Thursday, August 7, 2014

5.13.27 A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth jam-ending whistle that forces the receiving opponent down or severely off balance, forward, or sideways.

Today’s rule is our final segment in this week’s series on “illegal engagement”. Specifically, it is the threshold to give a penalty for illegally making contact with an opponent after the fourth whistle of the jam-call off signal.

This rule is unique in the entire rule set in that it only requires an opponent to be knocked “severely” off balance. No other rule in the rulebook uses this word. This is as opposed to yesterday’s no impact/no penalty version of this rule which specifies it is legally to knock an opponent “slightly” off balance. What’s the difference? You tell me -- it’s difficult determination to define, which means the rules leave it up to referee discretion.

Please note that today’s rule covers both blocks initiated after the fourth whistle, as well as engaging that continues beyond that point. A block which is initiated before the fourth whistle whose effect does not fully take place before the jam ends is legal provided the blocker ceases engaging once the jam ends.

It’s worth mentioning that the fourth whistle refers to the first set of jam call-off whistles, not the final whistle. Referees should sound three sets of call-off whistles that sounds like this:

tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet (jam ends)
(pause) tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet
(pause) tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet

The jam ends where I marked it above.

So now the kicker: the time between jams is both after a jam ends and before a new jam begins. Meaning BOTH types of illegal engaging (prior to jam start vs. after a jam ends) are in effect during this time. This includes team and official timeouts and official reviews, and the rules make no distinction between players arriving on the track for a new jam and players leaving from the old one. As far as the rules are concerned, any player is allowed to travel on the track and ref lanes between jams so long as they don’t engage. And if they do? That’s potentially illegal engaging. It makes no difference whether they were in the previous jam or not.

Using everything we’ve covered this week allows us to (unofficially) combine all four illegal engaging rules into two rules that read something like this:

Illegal Engaging (combined rule), not a penalty - A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth jam-ending whistle and before the jam-starting whistle that forces the opponent slightly off balance, forward, or sideways, but does not cause the opponent to fall or lose their legal pre-jam position.

Illegal Engaging (combined rule), penalty - A skater initiating contact or engaging an opponent after the fourth jam-ending whistle and before the jam-starting whistle that forces the receiving opponent down; severely off balance, forward, or sideways; or out of their legal pre-jam position (as per section 3.2).

In summary… if a skater makes or continues contact between jams or during any sort of timeout, they should receive a penalty if:

1) the opponent falls down,
2) the opponent is knocked severely off-balance,
3) the opponent is forcibly moved from a legal to an illegal starting position,
4) the player “steals” the opponent’s starting position, or
5) the contact allows the player to improve their starting position from illegal to legal

This concludes this week’s discussion on illegal engaging. For more information on the subject, please read ROTD’s last three posts.

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