Wednesday, July 9, 2014 Jammer status may not be transferred by handing off the Star via other skaters, or throwing or dropping the Star.

Today’s bonus rule comes from the Passing the Star section. It outlines illegal methods for a jammer to pass the jammer helmet cover (“the star”) to the pivot. New in this version of the rules is a prohibition against transferring jammer status via the jammer dropping the star and the pivot retrieving it. In the prior rule set this was legal way of passing the star. Handing off the helmet cover via other skaters is similarly prohibited as is throwing the star from the jammer to the pivot, although states the reverse throw is legal.

Two days ago in a discussion on rule, an argument was proposed that a jammer who throws the helmet cover to the pivot does not warrant a “star pass violation” penalty. This argument was made on the basis that this rule in the illegal procedure penalty section...

5.13.18 - Violations of rules regarding possessing or wearing helmet covers (see Section 2 - Skater Positions and Identification), including violations of the procedures outlined in Section 2.5 - Passing the Star). The initiator of the illegal action receives the penalty.

… does not penalize the process of throwing the cover to the pivot. The argument points at (discussed today in a separate posting) as not stating that the cover cannot be transferred via throwing. It then references today’s rule as stating only that jammer status cannot be transferred via throwing, not the cover itself. Combine the two and voila! -- it’s legal for the jammer to throw the star cover to the pivot, even if the pivot cannot don the cover without running afoul of 5.13.18’s prohibition against wearing a helmet cover illegally.

I disagree with this viewpoint. 5.13.18 isn’t just about illegally holding or wearing a helmet cover. It’s also about violating the star pass procedure itself. 2.5.1 explains the fundamentals of a legal star pass with this statement, “Pass Procedure: In order to transfer the Jammer position to the Pivot, a Jammer must hand their helmet cover (the “Star”) to the Pivot… The Pivot must be grasping the Star when the Jammer releases it.”

To me, the authors’ intent seems clear. A star pass is supposed to be conducted by hand. Throwing the cover from jammer to pivot isn’t just an act of pointlessness; it impacts the game by confusing referees, NSOs, players, announcers, and the audience. The proper place for a helmet cover is on the head, or in the hand during a star pass. If it falls to the ground -- fine, the pivot can help return the cover to the jammer to avoid disruption to the jam. But the helmet cover isn’t there for the jammer and pivot to use for an impromptu game of catch.

Which interpretation is correct? That depends on whom you ask. It’s a gray area in the rules that can be interpreted in multiple ways. As with any gray area, it’s important a referee crew for a bout be consistent regarding their calls on the issue. It’s never a bad thing to bring up gray areas with a head referee during the officials meeting so that all referees handle the situation in the same manner.

All this being said, there is little disagreement that the jammer can, if the skater wishes, throw the cover. It is perfectly legal for an frustrated jammer to take off the star cover and throw it at the ground, in the air, at the stands, etc. It’s when a jammer throws the cover to the pivot that they may run into trouble.