As per usual, in trying to fix one cluster-fuck in the rules...



As per usual, in trying to fix one cluster-fuck in the rules WFTDA has created new ones.

Under the 4/1/2014 rules you stayed in your “role” as pivot, blocker or jammer for penalty purposes until the whistle blew to start the next jam.
If you were coming off the bench you were a blocker, regardless of what helmet cover you were wearing, until the start whistle blew.

As I wrote about soon after those rules were released, this led to the possibility of a skater who was lining up to be jammer serving a penalty as a blocker or a skater who was lining up to be a blocker serving a penalty as a jammer and making their team not only jammerless for 30 seconds, but also unexpectedly drawing a 2nd penalty for having an out of position blocker behind the jam line improperly wearing a jammer cover.

To “solve” this problem 6.1.1.3 now says that your role for sitting penalties committed between jams is now determined by what, if any, helmet cover you are wearing. Not holding, but WEARING.

This sort of seems like a good idea under intended play conditions, but what if you have multiple people wearing pivot or jammer covers on the track at once? And what if more than one of them commit a penalty between jams?

Under the letter of 6.1.1.3, two skaters on one team, both wearing jammer covers, both of whom have committed penalties would both have to sit their penalties as jammers. 

Practically speaking, and considering the wording of the new 2.3.2, the refs could decide that the first one to get the penalty is the jammer and the other one is improperly wearing the cover. But that doesn’t help if the penalties are committed simultaneously.

From an even more practical standpoint it means a pretty big impact on every pivot and jammer’s behavior between jams as long as this rule is in effect. From now on, it is in your team’s best interest for you to take your helmet cover off as soon as the whistle blows to end a jam. And if you’re supposed to be wearing a helmet cover in the next jam, don’t put it on until the last second. 

Why? Because if you have it in your hand instead of on your head you’ll serve any penalty you accidentally earn as a blocker. If you still have the helmet cover on you sit as pivot or jammer and your team skates without that role being filled for as long as you’re in the box.

Then we get to 2.3.2. This new rule establishes a flow chart of who is counted as being your team’s jammer:
-If someone is serving a penalty as jammer, they’re the jammer.
-If nobody is serving a penalty as jammer, whomever is on the track in possession of a jammer cover is the jammer.
-If nobody on the track has a jammer cover, but there’s a coverless blocker lined up behind the jam line, they’re the jammer.

2.3.2 came about to clarify what happens when a jammer forgets to put on her helmet cover. There was a lot of discussion among refs in 2014 about whether to penalize her as an out of position blocker, making her team unable to score that jam, or if she should be considered the same as a jammer who lost her helmet cover during a jam in progress.

Note that 2.3.2 is all about possession of the cover by a skater on the track, but 6.1.1.3 is about who is wearing the cover, regardless of where they are located.

This means that in between jams there can be all sorts of problems because the conditions of the rules are not mutually exclusive. As potentially confusing as the 4/1/14 rules were, at least they were linear. Only one person from each team was eligible to get penalties as a jammer. Now it depends on where they are and what they’re wearing.

Scenario 1: Blue player 1 has the jammer cover on, getting ready to play in the next jam. She’s on the track…
2.3.2 says she’s the jammer…5 second call…4, 3….Blue player 2, who is still wearing the helmet cover from the previous jam, trips an opposing player in the bench area…2 seconds…penalty whistle blows…1…start whistle blows. Who’s the jammer?

6.1.1.3 says Blue 2 becomes is the jammer as soon as she commits the penalty. That makes Blue 1 either a 2nd jammer for her team or she’s suddenly transformed into an out of position blocker who gets sent to the box if she doesn’t jump in front of the jam line before the start whistle blows.

Scenario 2: The same things happen, but Blue 2 took her helmet cover off as soon as the previous jam ended….she sits as a blocker. Her team’s 4th blocker is suddenly their 5th blocker. That blocker is directed back to the bench by the refs.

Scenario 3: Between jams Blue #1 is on the track with the jammer cover in her hand. Under 2.3.2 this makes her the jammer. Until she trips an opposing player.
When that happens 6.1.1.3 magically transforms her into a blocker because she wasn’t wearing the cover, only holding it. She sits her penalty as blocker. She’s technically still the jammer until she steps off the track. If time allows, her team can throw another cover to one of the players on the track and have them line up as jammer.*

Scenario 4: Same as scenario 3, but Blue #1 put the cover on her helmet before committing the penalty. She goes to the box as jammer. Her team is on the losing side of a power jam until her penalty is over.

*My question, which I may figure out as I re-read the new rules, is can Blue 1 in scenario 3 throw her jammer cover to one of her teammates? According to 6.1.1.3 she’s on her way to the box to serve a penalty as a blocker. But according to 2.3.2 she’s simultaneously a jammer until she leaves the track, because she is in possession of the cover. Jammers on their way to the box can’t throw their helmet cover to teammates. Would she be safer to wait until she gets off the track to throw it? If she throws the cover to a teammate before the start whistle do they become the jammer? Who the hell knows. WFTDA most certainly doesn’t.

Welcome to the new rules, kids.

"2.3.2 - Jammer Identification: A Skater who is serving a penalty from a prior jam in the position of Jammer will be identified as the Jammer for their team. If no such Skater exists, a Skater in possession of the Jammer helmet cover will be identified as the Jammer for their team. If no such Skater exists, one single Skater who is lined up in the Jammer Starting Position will be determined by the Jammer Referee to be the Jammer for their team. If no such Skater exists, that team is not considered to have fielded a Jammer for that jam. "

"6.1.1.3 - When a jam is not in progress, Skaters who commit illegal actions that warrant penalties will serve in the position indicated by the helmet cover worn at the time the illegal act was committed. "

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