Saturday, July 26, 2014 Referee discretion is intended ONLY to allow referees to keep the game safe, fair, and consistent in the event that an unexpected situation arises. Discretion does not allow referees to change rules.

(Admin note:I capitalized “Only” instead of using bold letters, as it appears in the rulebook. The emphasis is intended in the rule-JI)

Today’s rule continues the discussion of “Referee Discretion” under Rule 8, “Officials”.

Today’s rule is very important for all officials to know. The game of roller derby, as outlined by the rules set forth by the WFTDA, is to be played by those rules and those rules only. Referees cannot simply change a rule to meet a specific need. There must be a compelling safety reason, or some other reason that does not have any precedent, in order to alter the game and deviate from the rules.

The most common use of referee discretion I can think of is using a track that is not exactly measured out to the standards listed in the WFTDA rules. I have worked with a few leagues that do not have an official WFTDA sized track for their venue. Those changes to the track are made, however, in order to have the proper safety zones on the side for the officials and for the fans. Not every venue is ideal and adjustments have to be made in order for teams to have a public place to have games and sell tickets.

The consequence to this discretion is that a game played under those circumstances will not be sanctioned by the WFTDA. “Sanctioned” in this case means the game will not count for ranking purposes.

The bottom line is that referee discretion is actually a very limited action. All rules must be followed and cannot be changed. Any adjustments from the rules must have a very significant safety reason. I honestly had a hard time thinking of many scenarios that the rules did not cover in some way. Feel free to post if you think of any as a way to share with our small community of 50k followers :)