Friday, August 30, 2013

10.3.4 Skaters who are injured prior to the bout may play if they have received clearance from their doctor.

Today’s rule comes from the Injured Skaters section. This rule is sort of an odd one. The reason being that this is a very tough rule for the officials to enforce. Much like the Minimum Skills Requirements that the WFTDA removed from the rules, since it is a sanctioning requirement rather than a gameplay rule, this rule is also not a gameplay rule. After all, how would a referee go about enforcing this rule? Presuming that every skater has been hurt, and asking every one of them for a letter from their doctor won’t work, because some skaters have never been hurt, and thus won’t have a letter. Asking teams which of their skaters have been hurt wouldn't work, either, since a team can just lie. When it really comes down to it, since this rule has to do with actions outside of an actual game, there is no way to enforce it whatsoever.

That being said, while this isn’t a gameplay rule that can be enforced, it is a rule that all teams should follow as best they can. Injured skaters, at least seriously injured skaters (there’s a difference between a broken leg and rink rash) are not typically qualified to make the best medical diagnosis. While it absolutely sucks to not be playing roller derby, an injured skater playing in a game can become a safety hazard to other skaters and potentially injure themself even more.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 A Jammer returning to play from the penalty box during the same jam may score immediately upon returning if the Jammer was pulled from the jam after having completed their first pass through the pack.

Today's rule is from the Penalty Enforcement Procedures section. It's a pretty simple rule, really, although the language could be a bit misleading. Basically, if a jammer has completed their initial pass before being sent to the penalty box, then if they return to the track during that jam, they may begin scoring points immediately. That means they don't have make another pass through the pack to begin scoring. Simple enough.

What is unfortunate about this rule is its wording. If you go by the letter of the rule, a jammer returning to the track in the same jam they were sent to the box may begin scoring so long as they "completed their first pass through the pack". This is, in fact, inaccurate. To be eligible to score at all in a jam, a jammer must complete their initial pass, which requires the jammer to skate more than 20 feet from the pack - exit the engagement zone - to be eligible to score points, per rule 8.2. Thus, it would be more accurate if the phrase in question were replaced with "competed their initial pass".

Of course, 8.2.1 is an exception to 8.2, which allows a jammer to score jammer lap points prior to completing their initial pass. Therefore, if a jammer returns to the track from the penalty box at any point, having completed their initial pass or not, they may immediately start scoring jammer lap points.

Monday, August 26, 2013

6.14.2 Willfully failing to leave the track for a penalty.

Today’s rule is an Insubordination major penalty. This rule sums up the most common Insubordination penalty. The opening paragraph of section 6.14 starts with this sentence:

“Insubordination penalties will be given for actions which demonstrate a disregard for the authority of the referees and officials, whether intentional or not.”

Effectively, this means not doing what the referees tell you to do. Now, that is a very vague interpretation, and should not be used as reasoning to enforce Insubordination rules. However, the concept is there. Referees and officials are there to ensure that safety is being considered during a game, and to make sure the rules are being followed. Part of that task is issuing penalties when a rule is broken. At other times referees may issue other instructions to maintain the integrity of the game, and (within reason) these instructions must be followed as well.

Today’s rule penalizes a skater who willfully disregards a referee’s instructions to leave the track and report to the penalty box. Rule 7.2.3 reads “When a skater is sent to the penalty box, the skater must immediately exit the track and skate to the penalty box in the counter-clockwise direction.” If a skater doesn’t do that, then they may be issued an Insubordination penalty. It must absolutely be noted that this rule says “willfully failing to leave the track”. That means that if a skater has not heard the referee call a penalty on them, and they fail to leave the track, it is not a willful failure. This is not an unheard of event, especially in venues with large, loud crowds. However, if a skater is called for a penalty, and they turn to the referee in recognition, but then continue playing the game, then they have willfully failed to leave the track. That is one of the common types of actions that would be penalized by this rule. Another common action that would fall under this rule is when a skater is called for a penalty, and rather than leave the track immediately, they turn to the referee and protest the call. Most often, the skater will then leave the track, sometimes even before the referee feels compelled to repeat the penalty call. However, even the mere act of turning to the referee and protesting is a willful failure to leave the track, because it is not immediately exiting the track, as is required by 7.2.3. It is because of this rule why skaters are trained by their leagues/teams to accept a referee’s call and just head to the penalty box, and have their captain or designated alternate speak to the head referee if they are sure the call was made erroneously. Pretty much any referee will tell you that they have rarely, if ever, overturned their own penalty call because a skater protested instead of going to the penalty box. Rather, most referees will tell you they have issued Insubordination penalties for that very action, per today’s rule.

Friday, August 23, 2013 If an overtime jam ends before two minutes for any reason, the bout ends immediately and the score stands. Additional overtime jams will only be played if the score remains tied (with the exception in Section

Today’s rules comes from the Overtime section. It explains that when an overtime jam ends, the game is over, unless the game is still tied. That means in the case that an inadvertent or incorrect jam ending whistle is blown, the jam is over, since the jam ends at the fourth whistle of the jam ending signal, per rule 2.4.7. The rules allow for an additional jam to occur at the head referee’s discretion only if the jam is called before it’s natural conclusion for one of the listed reasons, and so long as there is time remaining on the jam clock but not on the period clock. The listed reasons why a jam would end early that may trigger an additional jam are: An injury that is a safety hazard to continued game play. Fighting. Technical difficulty or mechanical malfunction (including skate trouble) that is a safety hazard to continued play. Too many skaters on the track that gives that team a competitive advantage. Venue malfunctions (including power outages) that are a safety hazard to continued play. Physical interference (including fans on the track) that interferes with continued play.

Even if one of these situations happen, it is still the discretion of the head referee to run an additional jam. Outside of these situations, once the overtime jam ends, even before two minutes has elapsed, the game is over.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

6.12.9 Skating across the track infield in a manner which substantially cuts short the lap distance. It is not necessary to pass an in-bounds skater to commit a skating out of bounds penalty.

Today’s rule is a Skating Out Of Bounds major penalty. Prior to the 2013 version of the rules, this was the only major penalty in the Skating Out Of Bounds section. This is a rare penalty to see, but it does happen. While most of the time a skater performing this action will receive a Cutting penalty, as they are typically blocked into the infield without time to stop before returning to the track, at times skaters will lose control - either due to speed, fatigue, and a multitude of other reasons - and skate across the infield, shortening the lap distance. The SOOB rules are designed to keep a skater on the track, even if it means the skater has to lessen their speed to do so. This force a skater to have more control of their actions. If a skater loses control and cuts across the infield, or does so simply by error, they will receive a major penalty.

This rule has brought forth an interesting discussion among officials over the course of a few years now. At what point has a skater significantly shortened the distance of a lap rather than made their lap longer. Basically, because there is no beginning or end to a round roller derby track, a skater can be ahead of way they were, or behind where they were, based on interpretation. This is evident in the jammer line false start rules for blockers. If a blocker starts a jam with any part of their body or equipment on or behind the jammer line, then even though they appear to be in the pack, they are considered to be an entire lap ahead of everyone else on the track. Going by that logic, at some point on the track, if a skater cuts through the infield, then they are no longer cutting their lap short, but are instead making their lap longer. We see this happen when a skater gets blocked into the infield and skates clockwise to get behind an opposing skater who is drawing the jammer back. They have made their lap longer by re-skating on a portion of the track they had already skated on in that lap. To push this thought even further, if a skater were to cut through the infield and end up exactly halfway across the track, are they ahead of the pack, or are they behind where they started? While there is no universal interpretation on this topic, what I have found by talking with many officials about this is that the difference between cutting short a lap and extending it that much more happens at the halfway point around the track. If a skater goes into the infield and returns to the track less than half of a lap behind where they exited the track, then they have made their lap longer, and will not receive this penalty. If they return less than half of a lap ahead of where they exited the track, then they will have cut short the distance of the lap and will receive a major penalty. Again, this is not a universal interpretation by any means, but rather something for officials and skaters to think of.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

6.10.16 No pack: After a warning, a sustained failure to reform a pack will result in a major penalty. This penalty includes a sustained failure to reform a pack by returning to in bounds from out of bounds. One penalty will be applied to a single skater per team, if applicable, who seems most responsible or the Pivot (see Sections 7.1.4).

Today’s rule is an Out Of Play major penalty. This penalty will never be the first Out Of Play penalty to be given out when there is no pack. Per rule 4.1.2, when the pack is destroyed, both teams are responsible for reforming a legally defined pack. Per rule 6.10.13, when a team fails to make an immediate attempt to reform a pack, they will be issued a penalty. Today’s rule comes after that initial penalty.

When a pack is destroyed, the referees will give a warning that includes a verbal cue of “no pack” and a hand signal. As soon as the warning is given, both teams must immediately attempt to reform the pack. While some say there isn’t a time limit, and others argue that there is, the latter is true. There is a time limit in which both teams must make an attempt to reform the pack. However, it isn’t any number of seconds, as some skaters and even referees will have you believe. The time limit is “immediately”. How so, you may ask? Let’s look at the Glossary definition of “immediately”:

Immediately - The first legal opportunity in which a skater may complete an action.

You may still be asking how that is a time limit. Well, simply put, the time limit is immediate, which, without this Glossary definition, means right away, with no delay whatsoever. However, the WFTDA wrote this definition into the rules in the 2010 version since an attempt made without any delay whatsoever isn’t always possible, without committing a penalty. Therefore, the time limit is right away, unless it is impossible to do legally right away, in which case right away after it has become legal to do so. Yes, this is a sort of convoluted way to look at “immediately”. However, this thought process helps understand how referees enforce this rule, and all related rules. This is the consensus procedure I have heard from many a referee. Pack is destroyed, referee issues “no pack” warning, referee then looks to see if a legal attempt to reform is possible right away, and if not, waits until a legal attempt is possible right away. At that point, once the referee has been able to internally think the question “is an attempt being made right away”, if no such attempt is being made, they will issue a penalty to one or both teams that are failing to immediately attempt to reform the pack. That is how rule 6.10.13 works.

At that point, once the initial penalty has been issued for failure to reform a pack, the referee will then likely call “no pack” again (I say likely because, while this is an incredibly widespread practice, it isn’t universal), followed by another internal questioning of “is an attempt being made right away to reform the pack?” At that point, once they have been able to ask themselves the question, if no such attempt has been made, a major penalty will be given for sustained failure to reform the pack, per today’s rule. As the rule states, this rule will be given to the skater on a team most responsible for the failure to reform the pack. In most cases, it will be given to the skater who is closest to the other team; this means the rearmost skater of the frontmost group, and the frontmost skater of the rearmost group. I say most cases, because it won’t always be that skater. If, during a no pack situation, one of the teams continues to block an opponent without forcing them to lose relative position, but no player on that makes an attempt to reform, then the penalty will go the (or one of the) skater continuing to black while there is no pack. In cases where it is truly unclear which skater is the most responsible on a team, then the penalty will be given to the Pivot, if there is one. If there is no Pivot, a skater on the offending team that is considered to be the most responsible will be given the penalty. If a skater is out of bounds and has the ability to reform the pack by returning in bounds, and their failure to return in bounds is more responsible for the failure to reform the pack than the actions of their teammates, then they will be given the penalty. Unfortunately, there isn’t a black and white answer as to who receives a failure to reform penalty.

Monday, August 19, 2013

2.1.3 The track boundaries must be marked by a raised boundary at least one quarter of 1 inch (0.64 cm) and no more than 2 inches (5 cm) in height, in such a way that is highly visible to skaters and officials and does not present a safety hazard to skaters. The track boundary line width must be at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) and no greater than 3 inches (7.5 cm). The track boundary must be consistent in height and width throughout the entire boundary.

This rule confuses many people. Mainly the question asked is “2 inches? How can a track boundary be 2 inches high?” Oddly enough, to some, there are track boundary materials that exist that are 2 inches high. Some rubber cable covers are 3 inches wide and 2 inches high. Most usually track boundaries are between 0.25 and 1 inch, but higher ones do exist. From a safety perspective it seems that a track boundary that is 2 inches high ought to be as wide as possible (3 inches) so as to have as smooth a transition as possible for skaters to roll over. From my own experience a track boundary material that is 0.25 to 0.5 inch is preferable as it allows skaters to feel the boundary while still allowing them to roll over the track boundary without a significant safety risk - after all, anyone can trip over even a 0.25 inch high track boundary

The requirement for the width of the track boundary typically applies to the tape used to affix the boundary material tot he ground. The overwhelming majority of leagues use either rope, plastic tubing or rope light for the height, and secure it to the floor using tape. Depending on the floor surface some leagues use packing tape, duct tape, gaffers tape, or wrestling mat tape. Usually the tape is opaque and satisfies the width requirement. If you are using the rope and tape method (or any similar combination) care must be taken to remember that when tape wraps around a piece of rope, the end result of the width of the tape laid down will be narrower than the actual width of the tape. For example, when laying down 0.5 inch width rope, the amount of tape if applied straight down from the rope to the floor, required to cover just the rope and reach the floor will be half the circumference of the rope plus twice the radius; to spare you the math, that would be over 1.25 inches of tape. So if 2 inch wide tape were being used to tap down a 0.5 inch wide rope, the end width of the track boundary, if taped perfectly, would be about 1.25 inch. That leaves very little room for error, and makes it very difficult for the track boundary to be consistent in width throughout.

Therefore, although the rules allow for a max height of 2 inches, and a minimum width of 1 inch, care should be taken when selecting track boundary materials so that a combination is used that allows for safe, legal and consistent track boundaries.

Monday, August 12, 2013 To remain eligible for Lead Jammer, a Jammer must remain inbounds until they are within the Engagement Zone, the area in which theJammer may be legally engaged by a Blocker. In the event of a no packor no Engagement Zone, a Jammer must remain in bounds until reachingwithin 20 feet (6 meters) of the rearmost Blocker to remain eligiblefor Lead Jammer. No part of a Jammer’s skate(s) or body may touch theground outside the track boundary before initially entering theEngagement Zone. Until initially reaching the Engagement Zone, a Jammermay be blocked out of bounds by the opposing Jammer, rendering theJammer ineligible to become Lead Jammer.

Today's rule comes from the Lead Jammer section. This rule explains what a jammer must do to remain eligible for lead jammer status. This rule is, pretty much, straight forward, however, it's prevalence has gone away much in the past couple of years. Thanks to jams typically starting on the jammer line, when a jam begins the jammer is already in the engagement zone. This rule typically comes into play when the pack starts a jam at the pivot line, which is a rarity nowadays. Something that is questioned by some about this rule is what happens if a jammer blocked out of bounds by a blocker before reaching the engagement zone, since this rule says that a jammer me be blocked out of bounds by the opposing jammer. Definitely, if a jammer is blocked out of bounds by the opposing jammer, the jammer that is blocked out will become ineligible for lead, and so long as the block is legal, the initiating jammer will not go to the penalty box. That is because jammers can block each other anywhere on the track. Now, if a jammer is blocked out of bounds by a blocker before reaching the engagement zone, that means that blocker is out of play, and will receive a major penalty for the block. This still means that the jammer is ineligible for lead, based on the first line of this rule. There isn't an exception for the jammer being blocked out of bounds illegally, whether it be by the opposing jammer, or by an opposing blocker. In fact, if a teammate were to force their jammer out of bounds before reaching the engagement zone for any reason, that jammer would be ineligible for lead. Of course, any reason the jammer might put themself out of bounds without receiving a penalty will also render them ineligible. This would include skating out of bounds as a result of a missed block, skating out of bounds to avoid a downed skater, and skating out of bounds to retrieve a dropped helmet cover. 

To sum up, if a jammer goes out of bounds before reaching the engagement zone, or within 20 feet of the rearmost blocker in the case of a no pack situation, for any reason, they become ineligible to be lead jammer in that jam. 

Something that must be considered is that this rule applies even after the beginning of a jam. It applies to any jammer that is eligible to become lead. This means that if a jammer starts a jam in the penalty box - thus eligible to become lead jammer - then when they return to the track they must remain in bounds until they reach the engagement zone or within 20 feet of the rearmost blocker when there is no pack.