Offline Rules Committee

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Considerations for Illegal Star Passes and Warnings
« on: January 09, 2019, 06:06:45 pm »
With the 2019 release of The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby, the concept of how incomplete Star Passes impact the game has been reconsidered.  This lead to two changes, one concerning Pivots and the other for Blockers. The Rules Committee would like to help keep these from getting conflated and/or unintentionally confused.

In the first change, an illegal Star Pass should only be penalized if it has impact on the game. If a Pivot comes into possession of the Star through any means other than a legal Star Pass, they should be warned that they are not the Jammer. From 2.2.4:

If the Pivot comes into control of the Star through an unsuccessful Star Pass or any other means (for example, by picking up a Star that has fallen to the ground), they will be warned that they are not the Jammer. Accordingly, the Pivot may not put the Star on their own helmet, but they may hold the Star in their hand, drop it, or return it to the Jammer. Only the Jammer or Pivot may recover or control the Star.

The initiator of an illegal Star Pass (or Star recovery) that impacts the game should be penalized.

Since Pivots are legally allowed to recover and control the Star (and are not compelled by the rules to return the Star to the Jammer), if the result of the illegal Star Pass was just that the Star is now in possession of the Pivot, there has not been sufficient impact on the game to issue a penalty (see below for further caveats).

The second change is when a Non-Pivot Blocker comes into possession of the star, they may immediately relinquish control of it to avoid a penalty. From C2.2.4.A:

Rationale: While White Jammer may only pass the Star to their Pivot, because the White Blocker immediately dropped the Star, there has been no impact on gameplay.

In prior rules it was an immediate penalty for a Non-Pivot Blocker to recover or take control of the star (once it is in their possession, the penalty has already been incurred).  It is now a penalty if the Non-Pivot Blocker maintains control of the star (it depends on what the Blocker does with the star whether they incur a penalty). To avoid a penalty, they must release it as soon as they are able.  Prolonging their possession in order to direct the Star or release it in a more favorable or advantageous way is failing to immediately relinquish it and should be penalized.

The question that prompts this clarification is, "Should a Non-Pivot Blocker who comes into possession of the Star be warned that they are not the Jammer?"

No. A Non-Pivot Blocker is expected to know that they are not a Pivot and may not maintain control of the Star.  In the time it would take to issue a warning, the Blocker would have already controlled the Star for longer than is allowed and incurred a penalty.

On the other hand, a warning is provided to a Pivot who has recovered the Star because it is often impossible for the Pivot (and Jammer) to know for certain if the Star Pass was successful or not.  Since the Pivot is allowed to recover the Star, there is no compulsion for them to immediately release it in the aftermath of a failed Star Pass. (However they are still not allowed to wear the Star.)

"So as long as the illegal Star Pass is between the Jammer and Pivot, there is no impact and so no penalty?"

The Rules Committee intentionally did not legalize failed Star Passes; only their impact was reconsidered.  It is still possible for an illegal Star Pass to a Pivot to have game impact. For instance, if the pass was intentionally illegal (such as one skater obviously putting a skate out of bounds), and the ensuing confusion from that action results in an advantage such as allowing the Jammer to immediately escape the pack, there would be grounds to penalize the Jammer. However if the illegal Star Pass does not result in an advantage directly connected to the action (i.e. the opposing team has an opportunity to recognize the subterfuge), then the illegal Star Pass does not have sufficient impact to penalize, even if the Jammer later escapes the pack.

Official responses from Rules Committee
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