Sunday, August 10, 2014

8.1.5 Non-Skating Officials

Today’s rule isn’t really a rule at all, but rather the title of a list of the specific Non-Skating Officials (NSOs) required to play a regulation game of roller derby. We specifically chose today’s rule as a way of kicking off “NSO Week” here at RDRotD. Today’s rule requires no explanation at all, so let us instead say two words to the thousands of NSOs out there:

Thank you.

NSOs are the unsung heroes of the roller derby world. Skaters get the lion’s share of attention with their jukes, flukes*, blocks, knocks, walls, and falls. Referees are flashy in their own way, with their black-and-white striped shirts and tweeting whistles. Yet it’s NSOs who hold the game together in their quiet, unassuming way.

A skilled NSO crew often goes unnoticed - that they’re doing their jobs effectively means that attention stays on the skaters where it belongs. An unskilled NSO crew pressed into service with little training can rapidly bring a game to a screeching halt. More than games, really -- the entire sport. Think I’m exaggerating? Consider what would happen if every game was peppered with three minute jams, incorrect scores, inaccurate penalty counts, penalty boxes that hold skaters too long, and official timeouts every other jam to sort out the mess. Good NSOs work hard to learn their jobs, and it shows if you know what to look for.

So we at Roller Derby Rule of the Day will spend this week saluting the heroes in pink (black, gray, etc.). Whether armed with a clipboard, stopwatch, marker, or keyboard, they are a part of Team Derby and deserve a rousing cheer from all of us.

Over the next five days we will describe the five positions covered in the WFTDA rulebook: Scorekeeper, Penalty Tracker, Penalty Timer, Scoreboard Operator, and Jam Timer. It is our hope that discussing these positions will help everyone develop a greater understanding of an integral part of the derby community.

Small side note: there are other NSO roles as well -- Inside Whiteboard**, Penalty Box Manager, Penalty Wrangler, Lineup Tracker, not to mention the folks in charge of track repair (a nightmare job at some bouts). And, of course, the Head NSO. I may be overlooking a position or two as well -- please make a note of these in the comments. These are optional (if useful) positions, but the rules only address the five we initially listed.

So again, thank you to all of the NSOs out there. The sport wouldn’t exist without you.

* I couldn’t come up with a better word that rhymed with “jukes”. My apologies for the lousy writing.

** A special salute also goes out to all the “old-timers” out there who served as Outside Whiteboard.