Passages from the 2017 WFTDA roller derby rules where the word ‘Star’ has been replaced by ‘Potato’:
The Jammer wears a helmet cover with a potato on it.
Skaters may not change positions during a Jam, except in the case of a Potato Pass.
The Jammer is denoted as the Skater in visible possession of the Jammer helmet cover (a.k.a. “The Potato”) at the beginning of the Jam.
If a Skater is serving a penalty as their team’s Jammer, no teammate may begin the Jam in possession of the Potato or behind the Jammer Line.
If there is neither a Skater serving a penalty as the Jammer nor a Skater with a visible Potato, then the team has failed to field a Jammer for the upcoming Jam and will be penalized accordingly.
The Potato may only be carried by the Jammer wearing it on their helmet, or by that team’s Jammer or Pivot holding it in their grasp.
Other Skaters may not control the Potato, and the Jammer and Pivot may not hide the Potato (examples include putting it in a pocket or hiding it in a uniform).
Only Skaters who begin the Jam as Jammers may become Lead (so a Pivot who receives the Potato cannot become Lead).
The Lead Jammer will lose their Lead Jammer status if they commit a penalty, intentionally remove the Potato (once it is on), or have the Potato intentionally removed from their head by a teammate.
The Pivot may control the Potato (pick it up, move it, etc.) even if they are not the Jammer; for example, to recover it and return it to the Jammer.
2.2.4. Passing the Potato
A team’s Jammer may transfer their position by handing the Potato to their team’s Pivot while both Skaters are upright, in bounds, and in play, and while neither the Jammer nor the Pivot is en route to, or in queue for, the Penalty Box.
Upon releasing the Potato into the Pivot’s grasp, the position of Jammer is passed.
If the Potato is passed illegally, the initial Jammer remains the Jammer and the initiator of the Pass should be penalized. This includes:
- releasing the Potato into the grasp of a Skater other than their Pivot
- releasing the Potato into the Pivot’s grasp while one of the two parties is down, out of bounds, out of play, or en route to the Penalty Box
- releasing the Potato into the Pivot’s grasp while the Pivot is in queue for the Penalty Box (even if the Pivot is not yet en route)
- releasing the Potato into the grasp of a Pivot who is not wearing the Stripe
If the Pivot comes into control of the Potato through any other means (for example, by picking up a fallen Potato), a Potato Pass has not taken place.
Accordingly, the Pivot does not attain the position of Jammer and thus may not put the Potato on their own helmet. They may hold the Potato in their hand, drop it, or return it to the Jammer.
Non-Pivot Blockers may not wear helmet covers or have any markings on their helmets that could be confused for the Stripe or the Potato.
Jammers only “earn” a pass if the pass occurs while the Jammer is wearing the Potato on their helmet with the potatoes showing.
The Jammer helmet cover, which has two potatoes on it, one on each side.
Passing the Potato – Potato Pass:
The act of transferring Jammer status, which is accomplished by the Jammer handing their helmet cover (the Potato) to the Pivot.
White Jammer removes their helmet cover and attempts to hand it to White Pivot. During this process, the Potato falls, touching out of bounds. White Jammer leaves the track to retrieve the helmet cover.
Outcome: No penalty.
White Jammer removes their helmet cover and directly hands it to a White Non-Pivot Blocker. White Jammer releases the helmet cover.
Outcome: White Jammer should be penalized for initiating a Potato Pass to an illegal recipient.
Rationale: White Jammer may only pass the Potato to their Pivot. They may not pass the Potato to a Blocker, regardless of the reasons for which they pass it.
Keep in Mind: If White Jammer had not let go of the Potato, or if White Blocker had refused to accept it (by letting it fall to the track rather than taking control of it), this would be an incomplete Potato Pass rather than an illegal one. Incomplete Potato Passes are not penalized.
Keep in Mind: If White Jammer were holding the Potato and White Blocker wrested it from their grasp, it would have been White Blocker who initiated the illegal Potato Pass, and thus White Blocker would be penalized.
White Jammer removes their helmet cover and hands it to White Pivot. Before White Jammer releases their grip on the Potato, White Pivot is knocked out of bounds. White Jammer then releases the Potato to the out of bounds Pivot.
Outcome: White Jammer receives a penalty for passing the Potato to an ineligible Pivot.
Rationale: Although White Jammer attempted to pass the Potato while White Pivot was eligible, a Potato Pass is a single point of exchange: the moment at which the Potato is released.
Red 21 is the Jammer. They remove their helmet cover and throw it at Red 45, who is the Pivot. Red 45 (still the Pivot) catches the helmet cover and hands it back to Red 21 (still the Jammer). Both Skaters grip the Potato, then Red 21 releases it. Red 45 maintains control of the Potato and puts it on their helmet.
Outcome: Red 45 is now the Jammer.
Rationale: Throwing the Potato is an incomplete Potato Pass, not an illegal one. Catching the Potato (out of the air) is the same as retrieving it (from the floor), so the Pivot is not required to let the Potato fall to the track first. Once Red Jammer clutches the helmet cover, they reestablish their control of the Potato regardless of whether the Pivot lets go or not. They then complete the Potato Pass in a legal fashion.
While moving through the Pack, the Potato comes off Red Jammer’s helmet and sticks to White Blocker’s wrist guard. White Blocker pulls the helmet cover free and drops it outside the track boundary.
Outcome: White Blocker is not issued a penalty.
Rationale: White Blocker gained temporary possession of the helmet cover and dropped it out of play. Because White Blocker did not intentionally attempt to remove the Potato from Red Jammer’s helmet, they should not be issued a penalty for accidentally coming into control of the Potato as long as they immediately relinquish control of the Potato. The Potato may get moved as part of normal gameplay, but may not be controlled by anyone other than the Jammer or Pivot.
Keep in Mind: If White Blocker had not touched the Potato, which was stuck to their wrist guard and allowed Red Jammer or Pivot to recover it once they are aware of it, no penalty would have occurred either.
Keep in Mind: If White Blocker had pulled the Potato off their Velcro, but not immediately relinquished control of the Potato once they removed it from their wrist guard, a penalty would have been issued.
Red Jammer completes their first trip through the Pack and has passed one opposing Blocker when they remove the Potato. While the Potato is off, the three other opposing Blockers commit penalties and are sent to the Penalty Box. The Jam ends while Red Jammer’s Potato is still in their hand.
Outcome: One point.
Rationale: Red Jammer was not able to earn points while the Potato was off, but they still receive the point earned while the Potato was on.
Keep in Mind: If Red Jammer had put the Potato back on before the end of the Jam, they would have earned points for the other opposing Blockers as soon as the Potato was back on their helmet.
The Jam starts and White Jammer quickly earns Lead. Red Jammer immediately pulls off their Potato and tries to pass it over their opponents’ heads to Red Pivot, but is unable to do so. Red Jammer stuffs the Potato into their jersey so they don’t have to hold it as they work their way through the Pack.
Outcome: Red Jammer has hidden the Potato from their opponents, also hiding the fact that they are their team’s Jammer. Red Jammer is penalized.
Rationale: It is unsporting to attempt to hide your role in the Jam.
Keep in Mind: If Red Jammer had held onto the Potato instead of hiding it in their jersey, no penalty would be issued because they would still be visibly in control of the Potato.