It's funny, but I don't know anyone who was born a man (or a woman for that matter). In my hospital we generally help women give birth to babies.
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Beautiful suggestion. I play this sport because I like to skate, not because I like to stand. I want to play defense while people are trying to get me off their jammer, not when they are standing behind me like a bunch of dufuses waiting for my pack to go out of play. I like to get a hit out and set back too, but any good jammer will just push from the middle of the track to avoid getting hit out until the pack is out of play, and considering the opposing pack doesn't pick up their feet at all- it doesn't take too long for a strong jammer. I'm all about "let's play better defense to shut this down," but the point remains- it is a boring and effective offensive strategy. I don't want to play it. It's not because I'm not a fan of "strategy," but strategy and slow derby are not synonymous. I want my team strategy to be based on switching between offense and defense- prioritizing based on which jammer is coming up. When we started controlling pack speed to monopolize on power jam situations, it became a slippery slope. I was always a fan of goating, but now we have gone too far. If both jammers were always on the track we could play real roller derby. I had the opportunity to play the MADE rules set last weekend at the derby ink invitational and it was wonderful playing fast derby. I can't stand this slow pack shit! Let's play fuck you get past me roller derby again!
I don't agree with this. I have always been of the opinion that if a jammer gets a penalty she has to sit and someone else, preferably the pivot, takes the scoring over. That way, the only time there are power jams is if in a jam both the jammer and the pivot get a penalty. Then, as soon as the jam is called if a pantie is on a helmet in the box it is removed and every jam starts with a jammer and a pivot. I don't like jammers staying on the track after a penalty because it would be so easy for a jammer to get three track cuts in one jam.
Reduce jammer penalties to 30 seconds, and zero-out jammer points (for that scoring pass) when they make a major penalty. This is trivial to implement, and actually makes jam refs' job easier since they do not have to remember who the jammer did or did not already pass.
I'd even vote for 10 seconds, but some have said that would be too much.
I like the brain storming. This idea fundamentally changes the game. There is no problem with the power jam. the team i play for will not use passive offense, but any team we face has the right to. I look at it like this, 4 wall black blocker, ie jammmmer on help from there team. be a team and your 4 will win that battle.
Side note, the points per jam increase from 39 to mid 40s is not because of thos it is because of one wistle starts, the jammer now has more time per jam to play
Not trying to get into a resume battle at all. Just pointing out that in all the ways I've experienced derby, I've not found what you're positing to be true. Given the popularity explosion WFTDA rules derby has experienced over the past ~5 years, I can't imagine your sentiments about the offensive game to be even remotely universal. People continue to flock to derby and lace up the quads, with the given rule set.
There's gotta be a reason why OSDA and USARS rules haven't caught on. As far as I know (and I don't know those rule sets well at all) they both include more skating.
I like the idea of changing the way destruction of pack is called. if your the skater on your team most responsible for maintaining the pack and you let the pack break while not engaging an opposing blocker you get a major. Lets face it if your not blocking and you can't even maintain a pack your not playing derby and you don't deserve to be on the track.
still a big fan of the major = no points for a Jammer
-eliminating the "no pass no penalty" no point (as in the blocker should stay in or up)
-OOP point at the front of the pack. is not an instant point. just make sure the failure to return is enforced so the blockers stay in play and if they don't they get the major and a NOTT point is awarded anyway.
As far as a new rule goes what if they consider on a power jam the jammer is considered part of the pack. That will prevent the power jam team from essentially "stopping" and then causing the defense to have to lose players on the bridge.
I'm not going to get in a resume battle with you. I've been around since 2004. And I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with me about. I'm not suggesting different levels of the game rules, I'm suggesting that it's possible to make the game more interesting to watch even if you have a mismatch of skill levels.
You do realize your question at the end falls into the "false choice" fallacy. It is not an either or choice, and there are many other choices that could be added.
The real question is where you balance the overall game along a spectrum:
Strategy X______________________ Athletics |Chess
Strategy _____________________X_ Athletics |Speed Skating
Strategy ___________X___________ Athletics |WFTDA 2008
Strategy ____X__________________ Athletics |WFTDA 2012
Strategy _______X_______________ Athletics |WFTDA 2013
Strategy _________________X_____ Athletics |USARS/MADE
Strategy _______X_______________ Athletics |RDCL Banked 2012
Strategy __________X____________ Athletics |RDCL Banked 2013
It's where you tune the game. Take an element of strategy away by changing the rules enabling that strategy, the game moves more toward Athletics by default. Take almost all the strategy out, and you get speed skating. I can't really think of a sport off hand that uses more strategy than roller derby under last year's WFTDA rules.
What if they consider on a power jam the jammer is considered part of the pack. That will prevent the power jam team from essentially "stopping" and then causing the defense to have to lose players on the bridge.
The WFTDA did a poll that showed that fans were satisfied with the game. But the WFTDA being the political organization it is, could have set up the questions to elicit that result to support their current policies. I'd like to see a poll done by independent professionals and the questions derived from interviewing first time attendees of games. Will they attend another game? If not, why? Then base the questions on the results of those interviews, get a scientific (not "self selected") group to poll that represents everyone from first time attendees to fans who haven't missed a game, in the numbers that they are represented by in the audience.
I think there are fewer "real fans" who get into the subtlety of the game, than people want to believe. And there are certainly a larger number of people who won't get or fill out a WFTDA questionaire, than would respond. I think the ones who would respond would be overrepresented by "true fans" who will show up no matter how the game changes, and they might not have had a representative sample of the audience attendance demographic.
WFTDA and USARS power jams have two sides of the apparently same problem: There's an incentive to not engaging the other team. However, the big difference is that in USARS, a team can "earn" the right to do this by getting around the other team, an act the other team has the power to prevent via blocking. In WFTDA, a team can't really prevent the other team from disengaging them, because it's nearly impossible to engage a team to force them skate forward; it's definitely impossible if they're already behind them.
USARS has already addressed some of the criticisms (including mine) in their 2013 rules, such as letting a team's pivot go out to score (behind the other team's lead jammer only) even if their jammer is in the box. This, with some other things, should limit the runaway problem since a "power jam" will be a much more rare thing. Because if your team has a jammer out on the track trying to score or stop the jam early, what good is it to run away from them too?
LA Derby Dolls Ri-Ettes vs Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice webcast this Saturday at 7:45 or so (game is supposed to start at 8pm, but sometimes starts earlier).
So far, in the games against Bay Area and Charm City (as well as BT
leagues SDDD and AZ Derby Dames) that I've seen, there has been no down
side. But then, that might be because the other shoe hasn't dropped yet.
If you go there now, you can see archived games. It's banked track, but with a high level flat track team, they'll try to employ passive offense. Under last year's rules, which were still in line with the WFTDA's rules on pack definition but with a closer proximity trigger, Rat City profited highly from their use of passive offense under those rules when they played LADD last June. Rat City won by 5 points.
You can see a Rat City power jam in that game starting at 28:15 here:
Oh, that's an interesting idea.. it's like, for the 2 minutes or however long is left, it becomes a race between the jammer and the opposing blockers. I hadn't considered that before, it could be fun to watch.
Given my experience as a skater, announcer and referee, I disagree almost totally with everything you said. Yes, sometimes totally dominant teams kill penalties really well. I'd argue that in instances where it's boring to watch, those teams need more work blocking. So, what about making things a bit more user friendly for inexperienced teams? I say no. Uniformity in rules is really important. Imagine if little league kids played by different rules than major leaguers? The point is, you have to get used to different levels of skaters playing the same game and yielding different results. It's the case in EVERY OTHER sport, so why not derby? Have people ever thought that perhaps the reason they can't fill their venues is because they're biting off more than they can chew? Funny how that doesn't factor into this discussion at all...
Yes, there are some things that may need tweaking to make derby more "spectator friendly," but given the fact that roller derby is one of the fastest growing sports in the entire world, I think this "huge problem" I keep hearing about is a serious case of putting the cart before the horse. My larger point, which you appeared to totally miss, was that derby should let itself mature a bit (i.e. advance past it's growing pain period) before claiming that the entire penalty system needs to be changed.
Just like in every other entertaining sport, I think the idea that teams not filled with gifted athletes can actually win, makes things really interesting. As a result, I think the "we should just constantly race" model of derby is DOA, and really shouldn't be considered again. If derby returned to this model, it'd just be track & field. Seriously, would you rather have a strategy and athletics competition (a la every single competitive spectator sport), or do you want to watch track & field?
I like your last suggestion - it would also let the offending jammer exit the pack, so if she gained her penalty at the back she wouldn't necessarily have to fight her way through TWICE to begin scoring points again. A lap of shame (oh the connotations on that one - announcers will have a field day) is a good, reasonable punishment.
I agree that one of major pitfalls of derby in terms of play and outcome is how easy it can be to skew a game with a major penalty to the only player on the track who can score points. As far as I know, no other sport is played where a penalty to one player prevents the team from being able to score. (I don't claim to be an expert on all sports so I may be wrong) . Since "drastic measures" are being thrown out here, one idea would be to have the jammer go to the box and serve her time, but make it so that the pivot now becomes the jammer and is able to score points after an initial pass through the pack. When the jammer serves her time, she is now the pivot. If the pivot commits a major while she is "the jammer" , she goes to the box and the jammer is able to score points again after an initial pass through the pack. The only time a team would not be able to score points would be when the pivot and the jammer are both in the box (hopefully not for the exact same time) I could see this increasing the game speed as the pivot high tails it around the track to get back into scoring position.
The passive offense has been a grave concern to me as a fan and supporter of roller derby ever since its predecessor showed up over 3 years ago at a Rose City game when the Heartless Heathers juked, stepped and looped backwards in the pack during a power jam, confusing the audience and threatening to send the referees to physical therapy with their frantic attempts to call the clockwise-block minors at the rate they were being committed.
It's been on my mind ever since then and I have some thoughts, opinions and observations to share on the subject.
Every strategy in every sport is determined by what the rules are. There are no “loopholes”. There may be poorly written rules or unforeseen strategies, but any legal strategy is a normal part of the game.
Any sport that has rules that allow you to stand still and gain an advantage, perhaps even win the game, is broken. It doesn't matter if you love the sausage, hate it, or are indifferent. If WFTDA roller derby is a “sport”, it's broken by definition.
The sausage will not resolve itself. There will be no new strategy that prevents one team from standing still on the track. Even if a strategy is invented that limits them somewhat from doing so, all their efforts will be focused on standing still as much as possible. The strategic advantage is too great to do anything else if you want to win the game.
Any rule change(s) that partially shorten the power jam (10 points, 30 seconds, etc.) will reduce the amount of time a team will do everything they can to stand still on the track, but the sport will still be broken.
With that out of the way, there do seem to be 2 valid proposals on the table to mend the sport. One is described in this article, the other is to send the jammer to the box on a penalty, but release them when the opposing jammer scores the first NOTT point on them on a new scoring pass.
I'm guessing the jammer to the box and early release would be easier to fold into the current game and easier to officiate. It would likely only need 2-3 short sentences added to the rules and one hand signal from the active jam ref without changing anything else. However, maybe I don't understand well enough or am over thinking the scoring ramifications with the illegal pass rule change.
Either way, here's the important thing: At no time will there be a significant advantage for one team to simply stand still on the track. Take away the advantage and you will see the strategy disappear. It's as simple as that.
Now, while on the subject of game balance and improvements, something occurred to me when I first started thinking of this years ago. Why are there no even, equalized starting positions in the game of roller derby? Sure we had the black/white/black/white... thing years ago behind the pivot line but that was too much like school or something. It really struck me during the last ruleset, when there was simultaneously a great deal of talk about the Olympics, and, at some of the highest level games, skaters crawling around on the track before the start of every jam. Can you imagine showing that video to a committee charged with considering future Olympic sports?
Here's my idea:
- The 10' in front of the jammer line is off limits before the jam starts
- The remaining 20' to the pivot line is divided down the middle with a line parallel to the track boundaries
- The teams alternate starting each jam in the inside and outside box through the entire bout.
Think about it. Teams would develop set plays and strategies to control the line and the pack as every jam started, depending upon beginning in the inside or outside box. They would have to skate and engage from the sides immediately to impose their plan on the pack. There wouldn't be the continued mad skate and scramble to the pivot line before each jam to claim your spot on the jammer line, with the victor being determined by random placement of team benches based on the venue.
More engagement, more action, more strategy as every jam starts. And an actual balanced, equalized starting structure, like every other sport in existence. What's not to like?
The only difference I see here is that skaters can still engage during a split pack. This could be helpful, and might make passive offense less effective, but might also have other unintended consequences. I would have to see it played out. But otherwise, the rules mentioned are essentially the same. Both teams must reform the pack, and no one is required to skate in the reverse direction to reform.
"What frightens me most is that some of the solutions I’ve seen offered
to rid derby of patient offense would have severe and unintended
repercussions for parts of the game that are still exciting, athletic
and fun. It’s like swatting a fly with a shotgun."
But isn't that what this proposal is? Game-altering? Once a pass has been ruled "illegal," there's nothing to stop the jammer from just cutting the whole pack to get out of her "illegal" pass and onto a legal one. There would be a lot of unintended consequences to getting rid of power jams, no matter how you do it. Even though patient offense is horrible to watch, the threat of a power jam is part of what makes roller derby exciting.
IMO, the best solution is the simplest: The rules state: "It is the responsibility of both teams to maintain a legally defied pack." —But they don't enforce that. It's perfectly legal to chose not to maintain a legally defined pack. That's the crux of the passive offense strategy: Destroy the pack through inaction. So why not make it a destruction of the pack penalty? It seems really simple to me!
If everyone hates it so much, why not call it for it is, "Pack Destruction" before doing anything drastic, afterall, its ultimately the ref's decision. I think the problem is nobody has figured out how to combat it, there is a counter-play for every play!
Like any fouled out skater someone would still have to sit for those minutes, so they would have something to lose in terms of screwing their team out of a blocker for many minutes. If someone was behaving recklessly in the final jam of a game the referees could assess them for a multiple game suspension.
I think the power jam is a bit of a problem when it can lead to a 40-0 jam. But I DO like the power jam, and I like pretty much all of the strategy (including stop play, Jerry) happening in WFTDA play today. Teams that understand strategy and rules, and use them to their advantage, are fun to watch - more fun than "skate fast and knock people down." As fans become more rules and strategy smart, I think they will enjoy the current style of WFTDA type game play more. It's that crazy lopsided, game changing, everyone goes to the box stuff that happens in the 1-minute power jam that could use a little correction.
I've only skimmed the comments, so forgive me if mine cover ground already discussed...
1. I really don't care for holding penalties until the jam is over. A penalized player should leave the track and serve his/her time. Reasons?
- A penalized player can continue to rack up penalties (imagine a skater that has picked up her/his 7th, and now can commit penalties with impunity) - not cool.
- Seems to lead to more official time outs.
- Harder for everyone (fans, skaters, and announcers) to know who was penalized for what.
I like @Ryan Nelson's idea of releasing the boxed jammer after the opponents have scored 10 points on the power jam. This would make for some interesting strategy and game play, and I can't think of any big reasons why it would suck. :) The only problem I have with this is it would be a tad challenging to officiate, but WFTDA rules are pretty freaking challenging to officiate as it is. What's one more wrinkle?
I also like the idea of a "reduced sentence" for penalized jammers. How about jammers serve for 30 seconds? Easy to officiate, reduces the chances of a 40 point power jam, and levels things off a bit by getting the boxed jammer back on the track. Also less time for the team on defense to pick up those pesky out of play penalties. I see no down side to this solution, but I welcome opposing points of view!
YOU are missing the point. Passive offense sucks for spectators. It gives a team that already has a serious advantage over a lesser team, an even bigger advantage, amplifying the point spread that would have occurred simply because the stronger team was already stronger.
Yes it's best to always get the best match up you can. But Gotham for example, has no one that would make a strong enough competitor at this time. In the case of teams that are playing outside of their region for the first time, they don't know for sure how close they are.
So, if your team is already stronger, them winning stops being fun when you see them standing around, because the weaker team's jammer is trying so hard to skate better than she actually can that she commits more penalties as a result, and you get more power jams. If you're a skater, how do you think this looks to someone coming to a game for the first time?
Lemme tell you, if you think the announcers are going to fill the gap with an explanation that's satisfying, you're wrong. For the simple reason that in most non-stadium venues, the sound system sucks and you can only understand the most basic things you expect to hear, not complex explanations that just leave everyone who isn't a skater asking WHY the rules allow this.
You come to games as a spectator to see exciting action. A minute of one team standing there while the jammer takes a few seconds to push the blockers just far enough, is perplexing and irritating.
There is a point where teams are equal enough that their jammers can't get out of the wall in a reasonable amount of time, and it burns power jam time up. Those teams break up the wall after a short waiting period. But those conditions don't exist when it's a stronger vs weaker team, and just two or three points in rankings is enough to make that kind of difference.
Thinking that this is a "slow derby" problem is missing the point. It is not slow derby, it is no derby. Defense should be about both teams engaging each other in physical contact, impeding them with walls or capturing goats to rule the pack definition. Achieving the same goal as capturing a goat without having to go through the effort, couldn't look more lazy. And passive offense is a shitty thing to do to your jammers. Blockers get to stand there fresh as a daisy, while they hang a jammer out to dry while she tries to move 400 lbs or more of blockers with her 100 lb body. Lap after lap. Of course blockers like it, because they can get away with having 1/10th the endurance of a jammer (unless they're in the top 25-30 ranks ranks or so). For the level of effort the blockers have to extend, it's an amazing points scoring strategy. For the level of effort the jammers have to expend, those points couldn't have been harder to earn.
Track cutting should not be a major. It's completely asinine. Give a skater the chance to yield position. Failure to yield should be the major.
Yielding position negates every advantage that a track cut provides. That's the entire point of non-safety penalties. Negating advantage.
this post is about a lot more......providing a game with more speed, excitement and maybe something the fans like. If the blockers went more than 20 feet in front or back of the pack, they were penalized. But some kind of continuous play is what the game is about.
This idea provides a bit more structure to the assessment of penalty without maintaining (much) of a power jam.
the principle of the game is not power jams....that is the tail wagging the dog.
Really? So you think a skater should be able to go out of bounds to pass a 4 wall, making the whole point of an organized defense moot since you can't block OOB? You do know that this is exactly the way it was in 2006, when passing OOB was a minor. This was how most jammers lost eligibility for lead, but if they had a good defense could still go for scoring passes with less effort on the initial pass. Score a point or two against the lone wolf blockers, then pass the wall to go for another scoring point, and succeed through strategic fouling. When you thought you were up on accumulation of minors, you would go easy.
That is why passing last line of defense became a major, passing multiple people in the pack became a major later, and why you have such strict rules about track cutting. Because skaters will exploit every opportunity they have.
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