Want to know what's going on across the derby world? Check out our new calendar.
login | register
Enter your Derby News Network username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.

you forgot it?!?

Spring Roll Wrapup

  • New York equalized their all-time series with St. Louis at 1-1, and launched a contentious debate about the rules at the same time. Photo: Bob Dunnell.

FORT WAYNE, IN -- When the dust settled after a very busy weekend of MRDA-sanctioned action at Spring Roll, there were two major stories, both involving 2011 MRDA champions New York Shock Exchange. The top-ranked men's team in the nation took a solid 199-148 loss to 7th-ranked upstart Des Moines team YMMD on Saturday night, and on Sunday, New York needed a hugely controversial last-jam comeback to get a win over 4th-ranked St. Louis GateKeepers on Sunday, 131-125.

The game between NYSE and St. Louis, narrow almost all the way through, came down to a last jam between Jonathan R (for NYSE) and Bat Wing for St. Louis, with St. Louis up by 15. Bat Wing was sent to the box early, putting NYSE on a power jam; NYSE's blockers committed pack-destruction majors on some of Jonathan R's scoring passes, at one point going so far as to all skate out of bounds together to ascertain St. Louis couldn't form a pack by going towards them.

A provocatively titled clip of the final jam exploded on Facebook the next day, causing a mini firestorm of debate over whether NYSE's actions in the jam constituted cheating or extreme rule manipulation. What wasn't up for debate, though, was that it worked and changed the outcome of the game. The jam ended big for NYSE, giving them a 6 point win.

NYSE's third game of the weekend didn't have much of the drama of their other two, as they soundly defeated unranked Portland 270-82.

Beyond the NYSE games, there were some notable rankings shakeups that seem guaranteed to make 2012's eventual Championships-qualifiers look a bit different than 2011's. After winning big twice on Saturday, including a 120-point victory over (6) Pioneer Valley, it seemed that 8th-ranked Twin Cities had a strong case for breaking the top six -- but in Sunday's last bout, 11th-ranked Race City played a spoiler in a big way with a surprising 214-110 victory over Twin Cities. That result had the effect of making unranked Portland suddenly look a lot better, as PMRD had defeated Race City 170-61 on Saturday.

While it was another blowout-heavy event (15 of 20 games being decided by more than 100 points, and 8 of 20 decided by more than 200 points), there were a few close matchups, particularly a one-point Sunday nail biter between Central Mass and Rock City; Central Mass prevailed 177-176.

3rd-ranked Magic City, who came extremely close to reaching last year's MRDA championship game but narrowly lost in the semifinals to New York, drew three severely overmatched teams for their weekend and had no trouble whatsoever (285-28 over Rock City, 417-100 over Connecticut and 617-100 over Sioux City).

It was a pretty rough week for 2 of the original 3 flat-track men's teams, as well. Last year's bottom finisher from MRDA Championships, 6th-ranked Pioneer Valley, suffered from a short roster with some relatively green skaters, and lost all three of their games, going down 219-99 to (8) Twin Cities, 318-59 to YMMD, and 263-43 to St. Louis. (9) Harm City also went winless, taking one of the biggest upsets of their history when they were defeated 203-171 by unranked Rock City on Sunday morning; Harm City also lost to Twin Cities 195-70 and YMMD 427-50.

The weekend's results seem to suggest that YMMD, Magic City, New York and St. Louis all have a nearly ironclad case for inclusion in the top eight; Puget Sound, who were runners-up to NYSE at last year's championships, did not play at this year's Spring Roll but have already defeated Portland solidly this year. Puget Sound will have a chance to make a good argument for #1 if they can defeat YMMD in Des Moines on July 7.

With the MRDA championship tournament expanding to 8 teams this year, the big question is which of the remaining teams can qualify. Portland seems to have the inside line right now against Race City and Twin Cities, although both of them have June 23rd games that could change the calculus (TCT plays YMMD and Race City plays Magic City). Additionally, current #5 Dallas Deception hasn't played an MRDA match this year and apparently does not have one scheduled, but can't be discounted just yet.

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

"Provocatively titled"

Just to be suuuuper clear on this, because people tend to not notice subtleties on the Internet: the title of the embedded Youtube clip was written by the original uploader of the clip, *not* by your tirelessly even-handed friends here at DNN.

I will say that I'm a little surprised that with all the comparisons being made elsewhere on the Internet between this play and intentional fouling in basketball, I haven't yet seen anybody nickname this tactic "hack-a-pack."

Cheating or not

I have to say I fall on the side of thinking it isn't really cheating so much as exploiting. They knew they were breaking the rules and were going to get caught, it's just that the benefit outweighed the punishment. Very similar to Hack-a-Shaq, as you say.

There are other rules exploits like this that I haven't quite seen yet. For example, NYSE could have skated ahead and outraced the opposing jammer around the pack to never give up points/give up less points (assuming they are as fast). Sure, they would get just as many penalties as the other team, but if it is the last jam who cares?

The logical conclusion is the absolute worst case scenario.

I've been thinking about this more and more, and have noticed that some people have pointed out that STL could have responded to NYSE's illegal action (skating out of bounds to make it impossible to reform a pack) with their own illegal action of sprinting away (which, to be clear, wouldn't technically become illegal until NYSE got at least one blocker back on the track.)

But let's game this out a little further and see how ugly it could get. (Apologies, this might reach Windy Man length, but I think it's important to take this scenario to its absurd conclusion.)

Start with the situation STL faced as NYSE stood out of bounds. They can't block; they can do nothing legal to impede the jammer's progress. Ok. Desperation time. Run! STL takes the hell off at top speed. Jonathan R can't pass them.

NYSE blockers see what is happening and jump back in bounds. Now there is a no pack situation. STL is doing something illegal by continuing to run, but it's worth it. Their blockers are getting failure to reform majors, but they aren't getting scored on.

NYSE blockers realize Jonathan R won't have enough time to get the points he needs. They take off, trying to catch STL, but they're too far ahead. Ok. Desperation time. Stop! NYSE stops dead on the track, hoping to catch the STL blockers when they come back around. NYSE is doing something illegal (both failure to reform majors, and entering-from-the-wrong-direction minors) but it's worth it.

STL comes back around, sprinting with Jonathan R hot on their heels. They see the NYSE blockers stopped on the track, hoping to catch one and reform a legal pack. But the only important thing now for STL is not to get passed. Ok. Desperation time. Cut track around them! All the (remaining) STL blockers just go out of bounds around the stopped NYSE pack, get back in and keep trucking. STL is doing something illegal (cut track major) but it's worth it.

Now STL is down to one blocker hauling ass, NYSE is probably down to one or two. Because those blockers were stopped, they're probably not going to catch the still sprinting STL blocker, and they NEED to get Jonathan R past him. Ok. Desperation time! Cut across the infield to get back in "front" of him! NYSE is doing something illegal (cut track major) but it's worth it.

Now the sprinting STL blocker once again has an NYSE blocker in front of him ... but the STL blocker is the sole remaining player from his team on the track and cannot be sent to the box. Fuck it. Cut track again! The STL blocker has just committed a major, but the penalty can't be enforced. Worth it!

NYSE blocker once again cuts across the infield to get back in front. His major penalty cannot be enforced either. Etc.

At this point, not only has the entire concept of the pack collapsed, the entire concept of the track boundaries has become irrelevant. The exact same logic that says it was a smart tactic for NYSE to start this sequence of events by leaving the track mid-pass (taking worthwhile penalties) would support all the rest of the illegal actions I just outlined above. But on the other hand, nobody could conceivably argue that roller derby is being played at this point in the proceedings.

---

I think a lot of people are making a mistake in thinking that just because there is a counter-strategy to a tactic, that means the tactic should not be de-incentivized in the interest of keeping the spirit of the game alive. There's a relevant tangent in the Hack-a-Shaq Wiki article I linked above that talks about how the NBA faced a problem when their rules called for whichever player was fouled to take free throws. Which led to this:

Quote:

[Chamberlain] was such a poor free throw shooter (51%) that if the opposition needed to employ intentional fouling late in the game, Chamberlain would always be that team's target. Just as the opposition was eager to send Chamberlain to the free throw line because of his ineptitude there, Chamberlain himself was reluctant to go for that same reason. This led to the spectacle of virtually an entire other game being held away from the ball and almost completely outside of the basketball game being played, as Chamberlain essentially played a de facto game of tag with defenders, attempting to run from and dodge them as they chased him trying to foul him.

Now, there were definitely three viable counter-strategies to this:

1) Don't play Chamberlain.
2) Make Chamberlain a lot better at running away from people.
3) Make Chamberlain a lot better at free throws.

But instead the NBA looked at the situation and was like "This looks bad and isn't fun to watch. We should change the rules to de-incentivize fouling away from the ball." Which they did. I feel like a lot of derby people would have argued the opposite, that Chamberlain's team should have employed one of those three counter-strategies.

That whole "two wrongs" thing...

Right! The existence of a stupid (but doable) response to a stupid tactic doesn't mean the original stupid tactic shouldn't be pushed out of the rules.

The game just gets sillier and sillier. Some of the silly things (e.g. every freakin' jam starting with one team taking a knee) have less of a negative impact on the game than other silly things, but it's still the case that the things that work best and are "legal enough" are often the best strategies...even though (almost) nobody likes them.

Down at the bottom of this thread is what I still believe to be the best short-team improvement (power jams end after the first ghost point). It won't fix everything, but it would be easy to implement and it would at least help.

The "WIN" Button

Justice Feelgood Marshall wrote:

(Apologies, this might reach Windy Man length, but I think it's important to take this scenario to its absurd conclusion.)

Only 872 words? You have much to learn, young padawan.

But you're right on everything, there. People are starting to lose sight of what the spirit of the game is, and are hopped up on "strategy strategy strategy" that they've forgotten that the idea of roller derby is for a team's blockers to help their jammer score points by blocking the other team. We've been seeing a lot less of that lately.

I'm actually working on something for my blog (the title of this post is a hint!) that is a more contemporary version of your analogy. There are some amazing parallels between what I've got and what's happening with roller derby right now. Part of the reason why I was 13 months ahead on the curve on this issue was because I've already gone through it in a different competitive environment.

Criticism

Justice Feelgood Marshall wrote:

I think a lot of people are making a mistake in thinking that just because there is a counter-strategy to a tactic, that means the tactic should not be de-incentivized in the interest of keeping the spirit of the game alive.

I think a lot of people are thinking that just because someone presents counter strategies, they think the tactic should not be de-incentivized. For me, personally, I was primarily taking issue with WindyMan calling the team cheaters and generally taking a dump on the skaters like he likes to do.

That and his continued assertions that runaway derby is easily preventable and/or awesome. Though I don't think that happened in this thread.

Justice Shall Prevail

Justice Feelgood Marshall wrote:

But let's game this out a little further and see how ugly it could get...

[Excellent extreme last-jam scenario snipped]

I think a lot of people are making a mistake in thinking that just because there is a counter-strategy to a tactic, that means the tactic should not be de-incentivized in the interest of keeping the spirit of the game alive.

The best thing about such an ugly jam would be seeing the refs' heads explode a la Scanners. But kidding aside, I totally agree that the existence of a counter-strategy should not prevent us from changing the rules to remove the incentives for such undesirable game play.

Let's run this into the ground

Justice Feelgood Marshall wrote:

But let's game this out a little further and see how ugly it could get.

Let's go even further than that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_eZmEiyTo0&t=1m32s

Can't argue with the guy's logic. Too bad he had no chance of winning, no matter what he did in that situation. (Including counter-cheating.)

If roller derby was a

If roller derby was a product, then you'd have a product development group.

And you sort of do. You have a game designed to be watched and enjoyed by skaters. Other people can get into it, if they really want to, but the primary market is skaters themselves.

If you're developing for spectators:
You want to keep as much of the game you have as intact as possible.

But you want to dis-incentivize using non-skating or leaving the engagement zone as a tactic at all times. Including coasting.

And as for horrible tactics, I'm really astonished that the tactic of two blockers in a 4-2 pack pretending to fall just as their jammer approaches an opposing team's four wall never spread. Extra credit for making it look like an opposing team player's major. Or even just taking a knee. Hell, why not a 4-4 wall?

The definition of cheating

From Wikipedia:

Cheating refers to an immoral way of achieving a goal. It is generally used for the breaking of rules to gain advantage in a competitive situation.

Question: Did the New York Shock Exchange....

1) Break the rules during the last jam?
2) Gain an advantage for doing so?
3) Do this in a competitive situation?

4) Cheat, by the very definition of the word?

Cheating is subjective, of course. But it's hard to argue in favor of their actions without acknowledging something is bad-wrong in the greater scheme of things.

Aside from this incident, the NYSE/Gatekeepers game was freakin' unbelievable, especially in the first half. More of that, please.

Cheating

The part of cheating that that intro paragraph doesn't include is the attempt to get away with it without suffering a penalty. Of course, all the sports examples wikipedia then follows with are situations where people tried to get away with it without penalty (and one success; i.e. Hand of God).

In sports, there's also that additional requirement. When players are strategically earning a penalty because it is of advantage, it's not cheating any more. Examples include intentional fouls in basketball or intentional walks in baseball (A ball is actually a penalty awarded against the pitcher for not pitching a hittable pitch, and the walk is the accumulation of those penalties... think 4th minors).

They cheated, but they didn't "suffer"

N8 wrote:

The part of cheating that that intro paragraph doesn't include is the attempt to get away with it without suffering a penalty.

They didn't "suffer" a penalty. They "suffered" a victory. They won. Winning is not a penalty. Winning is not a competitive disadvantage. Penalties are supposed to make it harder for a team to win, not easier. St. Louis made it harder on themselves by taking their jammer penalty. New York did not make it three times harder on themselves to win by taking three blocker penalties. They made it three times easier.

They cheated to win, because current (and likely, the 2012) rules do not punish teams severely enough who break the rules with such blatant disregard for the spirit of the rules. "Hey, you broke the rules! Cheater! As punishment, here's some points! Here's a trophy! That'll teach you from doing it again!"

The punishment does not fit the crime.

They took a risk. If their

They took a risk. If their jammer had gotten sent to the box, that would've freed the Gatekeepers' jammer and they would've eternally had one skater on the track and the rest in queue. And their jammer didn't have the luxury of being able to skate conservatively to reduce the odds of going to the box.

Derby is not unique in the fact that there exist opportunities for intentional penalties to be more beneficial than harmful. It's a calculated risk. It might be too easy, but to decide that this one is cheating but all the others aren't is incredibly disingenuous.

The word "cheater" is clearly

The word "cheater" is clearly pejorative, so IMO using it requires a higher standard than appealing to the dictionary definition. By way of example, a famous radio commentator recently used a similar "buy the book" justification to call a Georgetown co-ed who testified before Congress a "slut"; I'm not saying "cheater" is the same level of insult, but the difference is surely just one of degree, not kind.

In a broader sense, the immorality of cheating seems to connote some level of sneakiness--an effort to "get away with something" which, if revealed, would lead to an immediate correction. That wasn't the case here; the skaters were certainly taking advantage of an incredibly dumb loophole in the rules, but they were doing it in full view of the refs and the opposing team.

Pack rule has outlived its usefulness

The pack rule was written to stop the runaway game. It's a little astonishing that a sport that's supposed to be based on skating skill has a complicated, difficult-to-enforce rule that's meant to prevent people from skating too fast, but that's where we are right now.

The cure has proven to be worse than the disease. It's time to just drop the entire section in the rules on pack definition, bring back the runaway game, and allow the refs to enforce rules that actually affect skater safety instead of asking them to constantly be measuring 10' and 20' with their eyes.

I almost agree. I do want a

I almost agree. I do want a solution, but the runaway game is worse. It's both less interactive and occurs more frequently when it's legal, at least in the way that it was.

Re: I almost agree

I think the runaway game would look different now that the sport is more athletic than it was back when the pack rule was devised. And anyway, what we have now is so bad that just about anything would be better.

Athleticism

HewlettSmackard wrote:

I think the runaway game would look different now that the sport is more athletic than it was back when the pack rule was devised.

I don't agree with this, and Windyman has brought it up before. What is different? Before we had speed skaters, now we have speed skaters. If anything, I think it will be worse now. Back when the rule first changed, people were great at catching goats. Now, at least within the top 10-25 teams, 95% of goat catching attempts (goat hunts?) that I see end up failing to catch the goat.

Happened to have my camera rolling...

I didn't have time or the storage cards to get all the footage of all the bouts, but the first half of that NYSE vs Gatekeepers bout was so exceptional, I set my camera up for the second half and I have a different view of those plays which doesn't cut off the skaters leaving the track, a camera-view of the Misconduct by Bat Wing, and the general conduct of both teams for the entire jam and post-bout.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au5BQvC-mmQ

Easy fix for the rules

Place a rule that states that if Blockers are OOP intentionally or unintentionally that the jam is called off and restarted. Also I would maybe state that blockers dont have to be on the track in order to gain points. Not any jammers fault that a skater is OOBs intentionally or unintentionally.

unfortunately

there is a no pack called in so many jams... we'd be starting the jam over 10092035925 times in a game...talk about a snoozefest....

how about no pack no points? if there is no pack recognized, no points are awarded....i seem to remember this was the case at one time, wasn't it? but then, typing out loud, here, you could 'destroy the pack' in a power-jam situation to keep the other team from scoring your points...

it's a sticky wicket, fellas.

What's so wrong with calling them "Your Mom?"

Why does DNN always refer to Your Mom as "YMMD?" It's fun...have fun with it!

I hate it but...

I really do hate YMMD's name. But if they are going to play then I want another team called My Mom's Mens Derby just so we can have headlines like "My Mom beats Your Mom like a scalded dog." or "Your Mom spanks My Mom."

See, it's fun! :) Not sure

See, it's fun! :) Not sure why you hate the name, but regardless that is their name. And, after their showing this weekend, I don't think there is a question of whether they are "going to play." It is pretty apparent that they are playing...and playing quite well for that matter.

League names.

I was trying to think of another league that doesn't have a reference to a geographical region or city in their name, and the only ones I could come up with were Your Mom and Man's Ruin. Who did I miss?

Exactly.

This is the official name of a high-quality team. Just use it already.

I can't believe I am taking NYSE's side on this

After having to endure months of listening about what NYSE did to MCM last year in the MRDA Championships I didn't think I would be taking there side on something but I am. What New York did was smart. SMART! They played the rule book and not the other team. Just like that annoying person playing a game who "rule lawyers" things to their advantage, the Shock Exchange uses the rules as written to win the bout.

This was all set up by the St Louis jammer getting a major and going to the box. Now the NY players are faced with a great opportunity to win but can't risk their jammer getting a major while on a power jam. So what do you do? The easiest thing is to break the pack. While I would have just stayed on the track and either slowed way down to do it or taken a knee instead of skating out of bounds, they did what they needed to do to get a "no pack" called and get Jonathan R through each time it was needed.

Did they get a penalty for it? They did but at that point of the game it really didn't matter how many times they got a major for it. It was all about creating a "no pack", get 5 points and repeat. And it worked. NYSE won, St Louis lost and now we all have another reason to bitch. But let's be clear about a few things:

1) This never would have happened if Batwing had not gone to the box in the first place.
2) This also wouldn't have worked if the New York jammer had not gotten lead after getting thru on his
initial pass.
3) New York played the game as the rules were written & got a penalty for doing this. The EXACT penalty
as the rule book says.
4) Do I think it was pretty crappy & a lame way to win? Absolutely!!!! (Not to mention the one NYSE
blocker who came out of the box incorrectly and mugged the two Gatekeepers blockers)

Now some people have suggested that the refs could have called for a forfeit based on the rule about failure to field blockers for a jam. But NY did at the start of the jam so that rule would not apply. New York should have been hit with penalties for Skating Out of Bounds, Pack Destruction & Incorrectly re-entering play after serving time in the box. None of which call for the HR to call for a forfeiture of a bout. Also until someone finds one for general doucebaggery I don't see they could have been called for that either.

The real problem isn't what New York did (but I can see them catching tons of flack for this for quite a while) but the rules as they are written. But can you make a special last jam rule that any destruction of the pack means your immediately lose the bout? What if it is accidental or due to being hit out of bounds? Until they make rule #1 "Don't be a dick!" then things like this will continue to happen. If not again with NYSE who seem to be able to create a tempest every time they get in a tournament lately, then it will be some other team finding another way to exploit the rule book to their advantage. I can't wait to see what happens when/if the new ruleset is passed by WFTDA (which I think is being pushed through without enough evaluation). At least if nothing else it will give everyone on the internet more reasons to declare "The sky is falling! Derby is ruined. OMGWTF!!!!" Now I have to go check on my cat & dog who are sleeping with each other.

I don't disagree

You're exactly right about all of that. Truthfully, if I were coaching New York in that same situation, I would have told them to do the exact same thing.

It doesn't change the fact that it's "cheating," although (as I explicitly stated in my blog post) it's not NYSE's fault. It's the environment that allows them to break the rules without being competitively disadvantaged for it, and in fact gain an unfair advantage from it. This should be completely impossible in team sports. (This situation can technically happen at any point in the game, it's not something that special last-jam rules would completely solve.)

If I were NYSE (or Gotham, or Rat City, or Denver, or...) I would be actively looking for ways to fix this problem and get the rules changed asap. It's a crappy and lame way to win a game, but if teams like them show no urgency in changing the rules so they can continue to crappily and lamely win games (and vigorously celebrate them after the fact, ahem) this sport is headed in the wrong direction.

More cheating

WindyMan wrote:

It doesn't change the fact that it's "cheating," although (as I explicitly stated in my blog post) it's not NYSE's fault.

Come on now, if you're going to call them cheaters, stand up to your comments.

"Because when a team essentially cheats to win a game they had no right to win"

"Suddenly, New York all[sic] the motivation they needed to do something that they have been probably waiting for just the right moment to do:
Cheat."

"When you break the rules on purpose, and directly benefit from it, you’re cheating. Plain and simple.
…except, it isn’t cheating.
And they didn’t cheat.
Well, they did cheat."

It's one thing to point out aspects of the current ruleset that you take issues with. It's another thing to call the team cheaters. Which you absolutely did do.

Clarify "field"

I'm sure we'll get a clarification, but 9.2.7.1.2 doesn't say at the beginning of the jam. It depends on how you define "field." Is fielding players only at the beginning of a jam or at any point?

They weren't knocked out of bounds, either. Being knocked out of bounds is not the same as "not fielding skaters". There was clear intent (involving waving hands to indicate - "Look! I'm here! I'm not on the track") to leave the playing field.

Once the clarifications come out, it will help. Being able to remove your last blocker from play without more than a major penalty has huge ramifications both offensively and defensively.

I found the play by New York smart - until they intentionally left the track. They didn't need to do that - it didn't improve their position of not moving and taking majors. I thought the referees handled things well considering the fiasco of trying to penalize everyone without sending the last blocker from either team to the box. It's a landmark bout for certain.

The key

vicorp wrote:

This was all set up by the St Louis jammer getting a major and going to the box.

This is something that really needs to be in the discussion a whole lot more than it is. There was one way that the Gatekeepers could have lost, and that was for their jammer to go to the box. If that hand't happened they wouldn't have lost. They could've both scored points AND had a skater that is allowed to block the NYSE jammer anywhere on the track at any time.

Furthermore, the pack destruction isn't the only way to score 25 points on a power jam. That happens all the time without pack destruction. Heck, it even happened all the time before the current pack destruction rules. The pack destruction certainly makes it easier to score 25 points, but is not required for it.

Important derby lesson: If you're a jammer, and it's the last jam of the game, and the only way for your team to lose is if you go to the box, then you need to make sure that you don't do anything that might look, even in the slightest, like a penalty to a ref. There are skaters that can do that. If you can't do that yet, then keep practicing.

...

I agree that this should be part of the discussion, because the STL Jammer did an amazing job and I would argue (fervently) that the major penalty issued to him was the wrong call. He was hopping out of the way to avoid a hit. The NYSE blocker is clearly initiating the contact. This wasn't a careless action by an out of control jammer, it was artful skating.

This comment isn't made with any disrespect for the officials staff or the NYSE team. It was a great bout from start to finish. Everything that ensued after the call was made can be debated until we all turn blue in the face. Mistakes are made, the officials are human. And it is unfortunate that one call could have such a great impact on a game and a team.

I agree the camera angle BB

I agree the camera angle BB posted strongly looks like it was a wrong call by the ref. Of course, it's a totally different angle than the one the ref had. But I think the key point is that, as a jammer, when the game is on the line in that kind of situation, you have to know how to skate conservatively so that the ref won't miss a call. If he had spent half a second longer he probably could've gotten past without jumping. Heck, even if he took 20 seconds longer, eventually he would've found a way to get by and stop the bleeding. That's the reason you try to build the point difference up as much as you can, so that you have more options and freedom at the end of the game.

I don't mean to make it sound like I'm coming down on that jammer, and I hope he doesn't read this and feel bad. I hope that other jammers read this and think about their own skating and learn when they need to turn it up to 110% and when they need to turn it down to 80%.

Sportsmanship

"Sports do not build character, they reveal it." -John Wooden

I believe that, regardless of who we are, the moral compass of sportsmanship points clearly in the direction of respect. I respect my teammates by giving my honest, best effort, and by carrying myself in a manner that reflects positively on my team. I respect my opponents by cultivating an environment of "fair play," even though "fair" is not necessarily a natural state. Sometimes, "fair" is not even a desirable state, depending on what side of the scoreboard I end up on.

Respecting the game by following the rules, even (especially) when no one is looking is one of the most difficult-but-important lessons that good sportsmanship teaches. Sportsmanship provides me with direction as I navigate a world of competing needs and complex expectations. Definitions of success or failure, or the right way to accomplish our goals are as diverse as we are. Nonetheless, I know when I've followed the right path and when I've taken a shortcut.

The way I react to success or adversity in sports is an accurate reflection of the kind of man I really am. I have been learning this lesson for forty years, and it nevers comes easily. I have failed as many times as I have succeeded. I have to work at sportsmanship as diligently as I work at any other basic skill.

What matters most to me is the respect of my peers, and the kind of man I want to be; and I believe in setting a higher standard for myself than wins and losses. What truly matters deeply to me is not always how much or how often I've won or lost, but how I went about it, and how I reacted to it.

Sportsmanship is the reason why sports exist, not vice versa. Sportsmanship is more important than the game, because it's not only about becoming the best competitor I can be, it's about becoming the best man I can be. Sports can be empowering only in as much as I'm willing to respect the game, my opponents, and myself.

I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this community, in no small part, because this community takes sportsmanship and respect so seriously. Empowerment is a vital catalyst of this young sport's epic growth. Sometimes we are successful and sometimes we're not. However, as long as the conversation matters--and as long as we remember why it matters--then our sport will keep growing.

Cheating Or Not...

It's almost irrelevant whether you consider it "cheating" to draw intentional penalties to score points, and the discussion over that point distracts attention from the real problem, which is that it's ridiculously easy to split the pack and gain a guaranteed five points by doing so. The fact that NYSE did so in such a blatant way just highlights how ridiculous the rules are regarding the no-pack situation.

"Cheating" is the wrong word

I keep seeing the word "cheating" (here, on Facebook, etc.) WRT to what happened in the final jam. This seems like the entirely wrong word to me.

When I think of cheating, I think of something like taking performance enhancing drugs in cycling, using a corked bat in baseball, putting razor blades in your boxing gloves, writing spelling words on your palms, whatever...the key point being that these are things you do that you KNOW are against the rules but you HOPE will go unnoticed.

I don't see anyone trying to get away with anything that they hope the refs won't see. In fact, it's the opposite. "Hey ref, look at me! I'm breaking the rules!"

It works because the rules are broken. They are broken in general (the potential for pack destruction makes it too easy to score points on power jams) and they are broken even worse when it comes to the final jam (there's even less consequence to committing penalties when there's no "next jam" for you to spend in the box).

I can't help thinking that St. Louis could have easily kept their lead had THEY just committed more penalties too. After all, there's exactly one way to score points, right? So why not take whatever blockers you have left and sprint as fast as you can around the track? If the NYSE jammer can't catch you, he can't score. Sure, you'll get called for pack destruction, but so what? You really only need one skater on the track...and when that last one gets called off, just have him keep skating on the track...you still can't get scored on until he gets passed, right?

Agree on all points

I agree about the use of "cheating", and I agree that the Gatekeepers were not powerless to fight this tactic.

As a nitpick, that last skater can't even be called off the track. A ref can never send the last blocker from a team off the track. If they earn any box trips they're just put in the queue until there is another blocker from their team on the track.

Speculation

Here's a can of worms. How bad would it be to leave all of the rules about No Pack, but change that in a No Pack situation, blockers are still allowed to block? They can still earn destruction penalties and must still immediately attempt to reform the pack (or suffer penalties), but now jammers don't immediately get a free pass. I haven't really thought it through, so what would the biggest problems with this be?

The first issue that comes to mind is potential cases where No Pack and Out of Play are ambiguous. That might be something one could work around. Any other issues?

Engagement zone

This is more complicated than it seems.
There is in the rules no direct rule that gives a for blocking during a no pack situation. There are rules against blocking out of play, for instance you can only block in the engagement zone. Engagement zone is defined based on the pack, so no pack, no engagement zone no blocking.
I suppose you don't want to allow blocking out of the engagement zone when there is a pack situation. So you will have to find a solution to define what is the engagement zone in a no pack situation.
As you said, can of worms.

Sure it would be complicated,

Sure it would be complicated, but it seems to me the existence of a No Pack is an artifact of defining the engagement zone, not something that was designed into the rules.

But I suppose you're right that redefining the engagement zone is too complicated for the current voting method of rules updates.

No points

How about Refs be allowed to not award points to a team when they deliberately destroy the pack?

There's a tiny, simple rule change that fixes (most of) this.

I've posted this before, and it's not my idea, but it's worth posting again. There's one tiny rule addition that would eliminate the bulk of all these problems; slow packs, stopped packs, intentional destruction, etc., and not require any other rule changes.

7.2.5
When one team's jammer is in the penalty box, she is released according to 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4, or when the opposing jammer scores a point on her as directed by 8.5.

Nearly all the strategic advantages for creating slow, stopped and destroyed packs will suddenly vanish. Therefore the plays to accomplish those things will also disappear. That means the benefit you get from standing around doing nothing shrinks down to a speck.

Not only that, the likelihood of large point swings and blow-outs between closely matched teams will diminish drastically. Imagine a world with 100% more... close roller derby games! Actually it'd probably be around 800%+ more close games.

Yes Please!

Even if it doesn't fix everything, I think it makes the game better. Power jams have too much impact right now. This hockey-style rule change idea is great for many reasons!

Do it roller derby! :)

the thing about hockey

A goal is much more important in hockey than a single scoring pass is in derby. Really, a single goal in hockey is way more important than multiple scoring passes in derby.

There were 5.32 goals scored per game this NHL season. So, one power play goal accounts for 18.8% of the total scoring in an average game. Not having the rule where a goal ends a power play would certainly increase scoring, let's say to 6 goals per game for easy math. So, if a team scored 2 goals in a power play, that would be 33% of scoring in an average game.

Now, let's compare that to derby. The average total scoring of championships last year was 267.16 points (http://www.queenoftherink.com/situation/jam-expectancy-study-introduction/. So, that means that one grand slam accounts for 1.87% of total scoring in a WFTDA game. To have the same impact as one power play goal, a jammer would have to score about 50 points. And, as we know, no one has ever scored that many points in a jam.

But, that's not really fair to either sport because goals aren't always scored on power plays. Power play goals are scored roughly 17% of the time. So, that means that a power play on average has a 3.2% effect on the total scoring in the game.

For derby, based on http://www.queenoftherink.com/news/jam-expectancy-study-power-jams/, we know that the average points per full-minute power jam in championships last year was 12.21. So, a full-minute power jam has an average effect of 4.6% on the total scoring of the game. So, slightly higher than hockey.

I didn't consider short-handed goals but I also didn't consider jammer box switches so let's call that a wash for easier math (although, I think counting box switches would lower derby's impact by more than short-handed goals would reduce hockey's impact).

So, while derby power jams are moderately more impactful than hockey goals on average, it's not that big of a difference. I don't think reducing power jams to a max 5 points is the answer because that effectively makes power jams meaningless. What you do to make power jams less impactful is force blockers to block instead of splitting the pack at will by not allowing jammers to score points when a pack is split. The answer is not to render one of the most exciting aspects of the game into a boring meaningless aspect of the game.

No Pack, No Points?

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

What you do to make power jams less impactful is force blockers to block instead of splitting the pack at will by not allowing jammers to score points when a pack is split.

I like the basis of this idea, but then you'll have the jammerless team trying to intentionally destroy the pack during a powerjam.

Not really, for a few

Not really, for a few reasons. I'm going to refer to offense as the blockers with a jammer and defense as the blockers without a jammer.

1. It's much more difficult to destroy a pack while moving forward to look natural. So, destroying a pack by racing forward is pretty much guaranteeing a major for one of the blockers on defense and when you're on defense, you need all the blockers you can get. Much more damaging than the rare times the offense picks up destruction majors now.

2. Right now, it's pretty hard for the defense to avoid a pack split because, unless they get the jammer to a complete stop, blocking the jammer is forcing them to skate forward and away from the offense. However, under this rule, the offense would have nothing to do but block for their jammer and make sure the pack doesn't split. So, if you have a team whose primary focus is not splitting the pack, how often is it going to split?

3. That strategy you mention might be similar to how it's used now but the result is very different. Destruction of pack now pretty much guarantees your jammer an instant pass of the whole pack. Whereas, the defense destroying the pack to stop a jammer from scoring points could only temporarily delay a jammer because they would immediately have to reform otherwise they would get another major. Plus, they'd have the offensive pack rushing to reform the pack immediately. So, in order to delay a jammer for longer than a couple seconds, they would have to have a quick burst of speed and then continuously skate faster than the offensive blockers while continually getting failure to reform majors. This is ONLY a logical idea in the last jam of a game. However, all the offense has to do is make sure the pack doesn't split is keep up with the defense or get a goat which they easily have the power to do. So, yes, in the last jam of the game, the defense could force a very fast pack if all of their blockers happen to be in front of all of the offensive blockers, otherwise the offense won't let that happen.

Another way to interpret penalty percentages

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

There were 5.32 goals scored per game this NHL season. So, one power play goal accounts for 18.8% of the total scoring in an average game. Not having the rule where a goal ends a power play would certainly increase scoring, let's say to 6 goals per game for easy math. So, if a team scored 2 goals in a power play, that would be 33% of scoring in an average game.

This is a good analysis, but there may be a better way of looking at it. If we were going to look at the numbers of other sports and compare them to derby, we need to scale them properly by looking at relative percentages instead of absolute percentages.

If a very, very good hockey team has around five power play opportunities a game, they will probably score on one of them, a conversion rate of 20% This means there's a 20% chance a very good hockey team (that works their asses off every second) will score when their opponent commits a penalty on them.

But on the other hand, this means the defense has an 80% chance of their penalty not resulting in a goal against. This may seem like excellent odds, but in reality the penalty is almost doubling their chances of getting scored on while killing a power play.

If we work off of chuckbowski's estimate that 2 out of every 6 goals scored per game are on the powerplay (which is actually an extremely generous estimate), that means 4 goals are not scored on the power play.

This is important to establish. A hockey game will have around 8 penalties per game, for 16 minutes of affected gameplay. The other 44 minutes, on average, will be even-strength. So here's what it all means:

- In the 44 minutes of even-strength play, 4 goals are scored. This means one goal is scored every 11 minutes, making the chances of scoring one regular goal in any given two-minute period 18%.

- In the 16 minutes of power-play time, 2 goals are scored. This means one power play goal is scored every 8 minutes of power play time, putting the chances of scoring a power play goal in any given two-minute period of penalty time at 25%.

Take the ratio difference between these numbers, and you find that the chances of a hockey team scoring on the power play increase by 72% over any random two-minute period, going by this example.

That sounds like a big number, but it's relative to the size of the chances. It just makes a small chance slightly less small, just like buying 72 times as many lottery tickets increases your chances of winning the lottery 72 times but doesn't change the fact that the odds are astronomically small. 25% isn't a good chance, but it is still a chance that's nearly twice as good (72% better) as it was before.

For roller derby, it goes without saying that a jammer penalty does not increase the other team's chances of scoring within a two-minute jam by 72%. It increases it by as much as 500% or more. PJs allow a team to get four, five, or eight scoring passes in extremely easily, where as with regular jams between two equally-matched teams you'll get in one, maybe two if you're lucky.

Power jam scoring is way, way whacked out of balance, because the scoring happening during them are disproportional to the scoring happening at all other times during the game.

Look at the first half of the NYSE/Gatekeepers game. At halftime the score was StL 44, NYSE 42. This was a low-scoring, exciting period. But 20 of NYSE's points came on two StL jammer penalties. Let's break down NYSE's scoring rate in the same way we did for hockey:

-Both jammers on track: 22 points in 27 minutes (including 30sec breaks). Chances of scoring a point during any given minute of regular period time: 81%

-NYSE power jam: 20 points in 3 minutes (including 30sec breaks) of power jam time. Chances of scoring a point during any given minute of power jam time: 667%

Therefore, the chance that New York was going to score a point during any one-minute period of their first-half power jams during St. Louis was increased by over 815%!!! This effectively makes a jammer penalty 11 times time more severe than a two-minute penalty in hockey. Way, way, WAY too unbalanced.

But at least hockey players can defend against being scored upon. With roller derby rules as they are now, teams killing the power jam have no chance to play defense.

Well, no legal chance.

I love the math (although

I love the math (although would've been far more intellectually honest to use a better dataset, like http://www.queenoftherink.com/news/jam-expectancy-study-power-jams/), but I don't think it was needed to explain that it's easier to score more points on a power jam. Everyone knows that (I hope).

But I don't see a clear problem. thebigchuckbowski's analysis looks to me to be a far better metric on how problematic power jams are or are not. Your choice of a metric seems to me to be similar to comparing Free Throw % to Field Goal % (in basketball) or regular Shots on Goal vs Penalty Kicks (in soccer/football). We would all estimate that the percentages increase dramatically, but no matter how much they go up or don't go up doesn't tell us if it's a problem. I think the better metric is something that shows how much of an impact on the game they have.

Exactly

Math and metrics that compare the point differentials between power jams and other sports' scoring structure are completely irrelevant. That's not the issue. Here are the real problems (in my opinion) with the current powerjam:

1) It incentivizes the strategy of slow/stopped/no pack play.

The resulting extended lack of skating and hitting on the track makes roller derby boring to most, downright insulting to some.

2) It goes further and makes the strategy of standing around and doing nothing, (if you can avoid your opponents attempts to make you do something) the best way to gain a massive advantage.

This should never happen in any sport. During these times I think you can argue roller derby is no longer a sport at all.

3) The largest point and advantage swings in the game often have more to do with random timing of (4th) penalties than they have to do with direct competition and a battle of skills and wills.

If your jammer goes to the box and you have 4 blockers on the track with evenly matched teams and strong defenses, the other team will be lucky to get 10 points during that penalty. If, however, you have 2 blockers in the box with one waiting her turn because they happened to pick up (4th) penalties at the same time your jammer went, you'll be lucky to get away with no more than 15-20 points against you. Again, we have a situation where the largest advantage shifts happen not directly associated with direct competition and a battle of skills and wills.

Finally, there will continue to be loopholes exploited like there were this weekend as long as the risk/reward is there. Everyone knows a 2-2 pack is MUCH easier to get through than a 4-4 pack. It makes sense at that point for a blocker or two on the jammer's team to foul an opponent if that foul will force the opponent to get a major also.

If the reward is taken away then all these risks become not worth it. NYSE would have never taken that strategy if it only gave them one pass. Rather than make the specific behavior illegal and try to enforce it, simply make it not worth the effort by taking away what rewards it. Problem solved.

Power jams are not the issue here, Dude

Doc Holiday wrote:

If the reward is taken away then all these risks become not worth it. NYSE would have never taken that strategy if it only gave them one pass. Rather than make the specific behavior illegal and try to enforce it, simply make it not worth the effort by taking away what rewards it. Problem solved.

I agreed with everything you said up to this point. Those strategies were still possible even with the opposing jammer still out there, certainly tougher but possible. The first two points are exactly right but the thing is, they APPLY TO NORMAL GAMEPLAY as well as power jams. By changing power jams, you do nothing to solve the underlying issue which is that blockers are motivated to split the pack instead of block because it's the easiest/fastest way to get a jammer through.

Blocking needs to be incentivized and/or splitting the pack needs to be disincentivized. Not allowing points to be scored or lead jammer to be awarded when there is no pack does both of those things.

Oh, but they are

When both jammers are on the track the potential payoffs for splitting the pack and stopping the pack become much less. The risks of your blockers spending more time in the box trying to pull off those strategies, therefore, becomes relatively much greater.

At a glance, disallowing points during a no-pack will open up an whole other bigger can of worms that teams can exploit to prevent the opposing jammer from scoring, anytime they want to sacrifice 1 minute in the box to do so. If they're really good they won't even get that minute every time.

Now all we need is for all stopped and clockwise blocks to be majors and the slowest speed of the game will go up by at least 2-3 mph.

more arguing

Doc Holiday wrote:

When both jammers are on the track the potential payoffs for splitting the pack and stopping the pack become much less. The risks of your blockers spending more time in the box trying to pull off those strategies, therefore, becomes relatively much greater.

Yeah, but a penalty isn't committed the vast majority of times that packs are split. In fact, it's about a thousand times easier to get away with splitting the pack when both jammers are out there because "hey, we were blocking the jammer. we didn't split the pack on purpose *wink* *wink*." But, whether it's a power jam or not, the impact of a split pack is EXACTLY the same, lead jammer or a grand slam. If you don't think teams aren't constantly splitting the pack during normal gameplay, I'm not sure we've been watching the same sport for the past year.

Doc Holiday wrote:

At a glance, disallowing points during a no-pack will open up an whole other bigger can of worms that teams can exploit to prevent the opposing jammer from scoring, anytime they want to sacrifice 1 minute in the box to do so. If they're really good they won't even get that minute every time.

That's not true and here's why.

Doc Holiday wrote:

Now all we need is for all stopped and clockwise blocks to be majors and the slowest speed of the game will go up by at least 2-3 mph.

Oh, okay, we're probably not going to agree on anything.

Math is a little off

WindyMan wrote:

If we work off of chuckbowski's estimate that 2 out of every 6 goals scored per game are on the powerplay (which is actually an extremely generous estimate), that means 4 goals are not scored on the power play.

That's not what I was saying and any misunderstanding is probably my fault for poor wording. What I meant was that, if the NHL did not have the rule that a goal ends a power play, 2 goals in a power play would be possible. If 2 goals were scored in a power play, that would have a 33% impact on the total scoring of the game.

For the actual numbers, we can't use average penalties because goals shorten the power play time, so we really need to use penalty minutes. Penalty minutes served per game is about 10.66 and power play goals per game is actually about 1.12.

So, with those new numbers: .11 goals are scored per 2-minute period in normal gameplay and during a power play .21 goals are scored per 2-minutes.

As for roller derby's actual numbers: there's about 9 jammer penalty minutes served per bout and about 110 points scored off of power jams per bout which means 12.22 points per minute are scored on a power jam. During normal gameplay, 3.06 points per minute are scored.

So, the chances of scoring go up basically 2x during a power play in hockey and 4x during a power jam in derby. Certainly a difference but not that crazy. That could easily be solved with some rule changes that make pack splits very unlikely. If points per power jam dropped from 12.21 to 8, that would drop the points per minute during a power jam to 8.36 which would drop the difference between a power jam and normal game play to 2.5x, very similar to hockey.

But, really, like N8 was saying, that's not really the point. The point of the post is how much of an impact does one power play goal have on a game and how much of an impact does a huge power jam have on a game. When you look at it like that, power play goals have a much bigger impact than even 30 point power jams. So, the idea of using the hockey model of stopping power jams after one grand slam doesn't really compute with hockey's numbers. Hockey can't let 2 goals get scored during a power play because it would have a 33% effect on the total scoring of an average game and a 67% impact on a low scoring game (3 total goals). Even in a low scoring derby game (150 total points), a 30 point jam would only have a 20% effect (which is barely more than a power play goal's effect on hockey).

One Small Step

That would be a step in the right direction, although it still doesn't fix the problem that splitting the pack gives you an easy five points. It just reduces the benefit of doing it more than once in a powerjam.

Agree

The 'pack standing still strategy' is boring to watch (and to play) when it is in progress. However it is exciting to see how a team creates this situation controlling the speed of the pack. Your solution keeps the exciting and skillfull play, and by limiting the time it will not be boring.

I don't think it will stop moments of creating slow, stopped and destroyed packs. But it will still be exciting to watch as the situation will change more rapidly. And the effect of power jams will be limited what will give more exciting games.

No! No! No!

Sorry, but you completely erase some of the GREATEST finishes in roller derby history if you take away the power jam. Rose/Windy a month ago. Bay Area/Philly in '08. Rocky/Oly in '10. I simply do not understand why people want to lose the power jam. It's one of the most exciting things that can happen. Blowouts will happen no matter how you design the rules, the scoring differential just changes. For example, a 40 point game now is always just a power jam and a good jam away from being tied. A 40 point game with no power jam isn't really close at all. So, yeah, scores might sometimes look better on the scoreboard but would they actually really be any closer? No.

And, really, you're not changing a thing about no packs. There are still MANY advantages to be gained by splitting the pack even if both jammers are out there.

This is how you solve it: http://derbytron.com/2012/04/25/the-simple-solution/. Best solution I've seen.

It's not "taking away" the power jam

The suggestion isn't to take away the power jam, but to reduce its impact. You'd still get a significant advantage and, in most cases, five unanswered points. You just wouldn't get these crazy 30-point swings where the team scoring the points does next to nothing other than watch their jammer skate around in circles.

Sure, Rose/Windy was an exciting finish, but was it just? Windy's jammer went to the box on what appeared to be a questionable call...5 laps later (or whatever it was), the game had been taken away from them. It was very exciting, but it could have been just as exciting if the above rule change were in place and it was a 5-10 point game before the jam started. I personally find jams where one team outscores the other *despite* both jammers being on the track to be way more exciting than powerjams. There you've got both teams playing offense and defense and one team is just simply doing it better!

I'm a HUGE RMRG fan, but I've always thought that Rocky/Oly finish would have been WAY more exciting if both jammers had been on the track when it happened. Yes, it was off-the-charts exciting because it was a last-second come-from-behind championship win for the team I was rooting for...but it wasn't exciting because it was a power jam. If anything, it was practically a foregone conclusion that the comeback would happen given the situation. Now if the Oly jammer had been released after the first 5 points and Frida had still managed to pull out the win?!? THAT would have been whole 'nother kind of epic.

Wow, we were writing long

Wow, we were writing long replies at the exact same time. Reference my post above.

But, to reiterate, a 30 point swing in derby is MUCH LESS impactful than a single goal in hockey.

So, while I agree that I HATE watching pack split grand slam pack split grand slam on repeat, taking away power jams doesn't solve that because that's still a strategy that's used even when both jammers are out there. While it's slightly more entertaining when both jammers are out there, it's still pretty God awful to watch. Blockers should be blocking, not splitting packs. Rules changes should be focused on fixing that, not fixing something that isn't broken.

Also, if your goal is to pretty much keep both jammers on the track at all times, why not just make a jammer penalty 5 points for the opposing team and get rid of power jams altogether? Jammers would just never go to the box. It would effectively be what you're asking for (since power jams of less than 5 points are pretty rare) and you'd get the bonus of always having both jammers on the track.

5 Points

thebigchuckbowski wrote:

Also, if your goal is to pretty much keep both jammers on the track at all times, why not just make a jammer penalty 5 points for the opposing team and get rid of power jams altogether? Jammers would just never go to the box. It would effectively be what you're asking for (since power jams of less than 5 points are pretty rare) and you'd get the bonus of always having both jammers on the track.

I've argued many times in favor of exactly this. Keep the game moving and the jammers on the track.

imho

How about a rule that simply states,
If a team intentionally destroys the pack the skater who commits the offense get the penalty. The jammer is not allowed to score any points until the pack is reformed

Spirit of the game

Thats the worst part of it. In any sport, in my opinion, the worst thing you can do is purposely offend
the spirit of the game. The spirit of this game is to use your blockers to help your jammer/hinder the
other teams jammer in scoring points. I have to also add you should do this within the rules. To gain an
advantage by breaking the rules just kills my competetive side. I will admit though there is a degree to
when "breaking the rules to win" is ok. For example, the correct play in basketball with time winding down
and with the other team in the bonus when you are up three is to foul the ball handler before he shoots
the three. this gives you the best chance of winning. I understand it's similiar to this situation but there is
a key difference...I'll explain by using another basketball analogy. The hack-a-ShaqHoward strategy is
different in two major areas, it is imployed by fouling someone without the ball and it is used multiple
times. This grinds down the game and makes it something it wasn't meant to be. Basketball was meant to
be a noncontact sport. In the same token derby was meant to be a sport played in a pack. To purposely
destoy it is the same as fouling someone who sucks at freethrows. Both turn their respectives sports into
something they should not be. So the NBA changed the rules to stop people from creating an advantage
from breaking the rules multiple times. In turn, derby needs to change the rules. My solution, which
seems very plausible, is a simple one. In any power jam, if blockers purposely and maliciously break the
pack to gain the advantage of stopping the other team from blocking their jammer, (in turn gaining the
advantage of scoring points at a faster pace) then the penalty shall be assessed to the jammer. that
would stop the nonsense then and there. Before anyone says "its not fair, they did nothing wrong" it's a
team sport. You win and lose as a team. It be like a golie in hockey taking a penalty and another player
serving his 2 minutes in the box.

Two things

bigboybeard wrote:

In any power jam, if blockers purposely and maliciously break the
pack to gain the advantage of stopping the other team from blocking their jammer, (in turn gaining the
advantage of scoring points at a faster pace) then the penalty shall be assessed to the jammer. that
would stop the nonsense then and there. Before anyone says "its not fair, they did nothing wrong" it's a
team sport. You win and lose as a team. It be like a golie in hockey taking a penalty and another player
serving his 2 minutes in the box.

The two issues I have:

1) You now want to insert a rule where the refs are judging intent. This is highly undesirable, and something the WFTDA rules work very hard to avoid.

2) I think your analogy is backwards. I think it's more like if another player commits a penalty, then sending the goalie to the box.

Issues

Did you see the videos? No offense but a monkey could tell what they were doing. And yes I get your point, but I was just pointing out there are instances where one participant commits an infraction, but another person serves the time. Everyone can agree though, the rule makers have to do something to make the repercussions for pulling this kind of underhanded tactics severe enough that it can not be used as a viable winning strategy.

But they weren't concerned

But they weren't concerned with trying to make it believable, because they know there's no rule about that. If there were a rule where it was a judgement call for the ref, now you've changed the game to where the blockers are still interested in splitting the pack, but they're playing a secondary game where they're trying to make it believable to the refs that it was a result of natural game play. Or at least, close enough to natural game play that the ref isn't certain.

This is something we don't want in the rules.

We should start giving out yellow cards for stalling

Before Pride was bought out by the UFC, they used their own rules instead of the unified mixed martial arts rules. If a fighter was stalling, they were issued a "yellow card". Basically if the fighter was not going for it, he was penalized (in this case, they took a portion of his purse). This prevented a lot of the "lay and pray" fights. As a spectator, it always felt great to see the ref pull out the yellow card on someone who was trying to bore you to death.

"If fighters commit the following actions, they shall be given a yellow card by officials: Stalling or failure to initiate any offensive attack, making no attempt to finalize the match or damage the opponent, and holding the opponent's body with the arms and legs to produce a stalemate. A yellow card results in a 10% deduction/fine of the fighter's fight purse."

So, in derby, if skaters aren't actually "playing" the game (I'm sure we could come up with a few examples), they could be issued a yellow card and penalized appropriately.

We should come down even

We should come down even harder and penalize skaters FIFTEEN percent of their pay for the evening!

There could have been a simple solution to this problem.

The first time the skated OOB to intentionally destroy the pack the Head Ref says "Don't do that again" The second time they do it the head ref calls the jam and send the pivot (or most responsible blocker) for an Insubordination expulsion. 6.14.5, and a little bit of that dirty word "ref discretion". The Head Ref has to call the jam because otherwise how is he going to grab the most responsible player and drag him to the locker room like a puppy who just shat on the carpet.

Is that kosher?

EvilJeffy wrote:

The first time the skated OOB to intentionally destroy the pack the Head Ref says "Don't do that again"

Is a Head Ref allowed to tell a skater not to commit a penalty? To me, that seems awfully close to coaching, which is a huge no-no for referees.

Nope

Strictly treif. No ref can tell a skater not to commit a penalty. We can only give them insubordination penalties for not following a ref direction that the rules tell us to give them. But whether they are taking their 4th minor behind the jammer line or stepping out of bounds during the jam, all we can do is penalize them accordingly.

9.2.6.1.4

"9.2.6.1 - A referee may call off a jam for any of the following reasons:
...
9.2.6.1.4 - In response to a major penalty."

Would this have been a situation where a ref could have used this?

I was thinking of then taking it to:

"9.2.6.3 - In the event that a referee must call off a jam prior to its natural conclusion (per Sections 9.2.6.2.3–9.2.6.2.8) with time remaining on the jam clock, but not on the period clock, the points from the jam will remain and an additional jam may occur at the Head Referee’s discretion."

But, then I noticed this can only be done if the jam was called out for one of the 9.2.6.2 reasons. Still, when is 9.2.6.1.4 intended to be used?

I'll remember 9.2.6.1.4 now

N8 wrote:

"9.2.6.1 - A referee may call off a jam for any of the following reasons:
...
9.2.6.1.4 - In response to a major penalty."

Would this have been a situation where a ref could have used this?

I was thinking of then taking it to:

"9.2.6.3 - In the event that a referee must call off a jam prior to its natural conclusion (per Sections 9.2.6.2.3–9.2.6.2.8) with time remaining on the jam clock, but not on the period clock, the points from the jam will remain and an additional jam may occur at the Head Referee’s discretion."

But, then I noticed this can only be done if the jam was called out for one of the 9.2.6.2 reasons. Still, when is 9.2.6.1.4 intended to be used?

Perhaps the expulsion worthy shove (6.5.15) by the NYSE of a couple of the Gatekeepers (at 1:51 in my video) was worthy of calling the jam as well (and could qualify for 9.2.6.2.4).

That statement is NOT a critique of the officiating. I watched the game live too - basically from the perspective of my camera while textcasting - and didn't see that until I saw the video. By that point in the jam, the game play had become so ridiculous because of all the intentional fouls it was hard to know what to comment on. I can only imagine the referees had a similar experience in determining the priorities of calls.

I will take the lesson, however, of this bout and when I'm a referee, if this happens to me, I'll know I have the ability to call an official time out when the majors get so insane I can't keep track of them. Honestly, I hadn't remembered that rule, but I won't forget it now.

Not so much...

That's really not a valid reason to invoke this rule and call a time out. Between jams, of course, but to interrupt a jam in progress because you/we want to catch up with penalties being recorded would completely break the game. The rules are the rules and they currently allow this strategy. More importantly for the game in general, they make this strategy worthwhile. Until that changes all we can do is stand back and try to keep up with the penalties as they occur.

On the plus side that shouldn't take long. I remember when the first stopped and CW pack movement started and how completely confused I was about calling CW penalties. Once I knew what to expect it was much easier to identify and keep up with.

Even an expulsion should never be a reason to call a timeout in the middle of a jam, unless there's some strange reason that's the only way you can get the skater off the track. I've never seen this happen in more than 5 years of reffing.

Who breaks the game?

Doc Holiday wrote:

...to interrupt a jam in progress because you/we want to catch up with penalties being recorded would completely break the game. The rules are the rules and they currently allow this strategy.

Derby's major organizations will write the history on who breaks the game here. The rules, while they allow this strategy, also allow referees to call the jam due to a major penalty (9.2.6.1.4). I can't imagine anyone would hold a referee irresponsible for calling a jam for somewhere about 25 major penalties in less than a minute under the auspices of 9.2.6.1.4. Referees will also not be considered irresponsible for not using it. Having it at one's disposal to make the best game for everyone is a great thing.

Not our job

As much as I am a huge fan of derby, making the best game for everyone is not a ref's role. The moment any ref steps beyond simply enforcing the rules, and keeping the gameplay safe within those rules, it's time to find some other way to be involved in derby.

In reality, the penalties are not that hard to keep up with after the first time encountering something like this and being slightly prepared. There's only one per pass, for the most part. A skater coming out of the box in front of the pack and shoving an opponent is easy too; expulsion, with a possible recommendation for suspension.

Safety

Clearly it is a matter of opinion, but in my opinion (sorry for the obvious), when the rate of majors reached what it did in this jam, the safety of skaters, officials, and fans entered the questionable realm.

This is a jam where some skaters undeniably accrued more than 1 major per jammer pass because they were accruing majors for distinctly different actions within the same pass that grossly interfered with play.

I have a transcript of my textcast for the last 6 jams of this bout and in this jam it pretty much stopped because the rate of audacious and egregious penalties hit such a high I couldn't type that fast (and I type very fast).

My kudos go to the Gatekeepers and the referees for being as level-headed as they were because this could have become very ugly if the game were played tit for tat.

I think 9.2.6.1.4 is....

As a response to an egregious major, possibly to discuss an expulsion with head ref. In this case I would leave the calling of the last jam up to the Head Ref, let them take the heat for it later.

spare me from boredom

To watch a well played, exciting game to come down to a final jam where a player or Team refuses to play on the track, as a strategy to win a game, smacks of the old days of WWF style roller derby. Good job for taking the sport back to the stone ages. Just rigg the game from the start, bring some folding chairs track to bash over people, and wear masks or capes and call we can call it MFTDA - Men's Fake Track Derby Association.
As least the ladies have a alittle finess about their rule bending and not undermine the sport in it's entirety. Good Job Guys!

Are you kidding? I forget

Are you kidding? I forget every WFTDA game ever played has been the pinnacle of skills, sportswomen like behavior, and no one has ever ever bent the rules to get the outcome they liked.

A team refusing to play the game as a strategy smacks of roller derby circa what 2010 where I think Gotham/Philly had the first jam that never was. Please get over yourself and stop trying to undermine an organization many people are working to build and grow. No one said WFTDA was going back to WWE when at a championship level game a player punched someone in the back of the head taking her down.

Give it a rest troll.

LOL

MFTDA where's the W in that? Purely asking certain men's teams to stop taking a dump on a sport women worked so hard to bring up to legit play.