Sunday, August 17, 2014

8.2.5 Safety is the number one priority for referees. Illegal game play that causes an unsafe environment is not to be tolerated. The referees are to assess and enforce penalties and expulsions as described in Section 5 Penalties and Section 6 Penalty Enforcement. Referees will use their discretion and their decisions are binding.

Today’s Rule comes from “Duties” under Rule 8, Officials.

This rule is often cited by referees and skaters alike. Sometimes without its proper context. Yes, safe game play is the first priority of the referees. Its why the rules are written the way they are. The rules stipulate what is considered safe game play as opposed to what is unsafe game play. Roller derby is a full contact sport played by people wearing quad roller skates. Think about that for a second. A full contact sport played by people on skates.The sport has inherent dangers and risks.

It is with those risks in mind that the rules regarding legal and illegal contact have been formed by the members of the WFTDA. I have worked with officials that have seen hard contact between skaters and has called a penalty. When I ask them what they saw, the answer has been “That was just a really ugly hit”, so I follow up with this question, “Was the contact illegal?”
Referees need to be able to answer that question. If the contact was legal, then there is no penalty, its the result of a full contact sport. If the contact was illegal, the referee must be able to identify that illegal contact based on the rules set forth in section 5 of the rule book, then assess the penalty based on section 6 of the rule book. It is that simple.

Finally when it comes to discretion, we have discussed that in previous Rule of the Day posts. There is a limited amount of discretion a referee has and referees cannot simply make up rules in the name of safety.

The main idea I would like all skaters and officials to take from this is that Roller Derby is a full contact sport. Yes, safety is a priority. However safety does not supersede the rules that the teams choose to play under. Everyone remembers the line about “Safety is the number one priority..”. Lets also remember that what referees call MUST be based on the Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.