WFTDA Officials Certification System to be replaced with Magic 8-Ball

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) have announced the long-awaited end to the restructure of their Officials Certification System: the certification panels are to be replaced by a Magic 8-Ball.

In the past, certification panels served to assess officials’ rules and officiating knowledge and skill in order to provide certification of officials.
Certification, in turn, signifies an official’s excellence and qualification to officiate sanctioned and regulation roller derby gameplay.
The assessment of which officials are deserving of certification and have the skill to officiate WFTDA and MRDA tournaments will now be carried out by a Magic 8-Ball.

Heffalump, a WFTDA spokesperson, commented:
“We are happy to present a unified certification system that will better meet the needs both the WFTDA and the MRDA membership than the previous certification program.
We think this new Magic 8-Ball-based system will be better at identifying skill in roller derby officiating than the old panel-based system.”

“We have listened to the derby community and believe that this will be a much better, more reliable and less biased way to find the best referees and NSOs for staffing our tournaments.”

“We would like to apologise for the delay in re-opening the certification program, but we believe the wait and hard work will pay off for the future of roller derby officiating.
After the long break during the re-structure in which no certifications were processed, we are now happy to announce that we are accepting applications for officials’ certification once again.”

In answer to whether there would be any changes to the application process for officials seeking certification, Heffalump explained:
“As before, you will need to submit game evaluations and certification test results, which will be carefully considered by the Magic 8-Ball.
And, just as in the past, certification will continue to be an entry requirement for officiating the WFTDA, and now MRDA tournaments, to ensure a high level of officiating at these events.”

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Get certified for creative roller derby refereeing

This coming weekend, the Derpshire Rollergirls are putting on a WFTDA-sanctioned referee clinic with a special emphasis on creative refereeing.

The class aims to help roller derby officials put the maximum amount of creativity into their roller derby refereeing.

The advertisement for the class states:

We will teach you about creativity, innovation and change.
We want to stimulate your creativity and help you take your creative refereeing to the next level.

Be a more innovative referee; jumpstart your creativity, and don’t just go by the rules.

Learn about what is inhibiting you from calling roller derby penalties the way you want.

Think outside the box, break the shackles, push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.
The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity in roller derby refereeing.

Discover and develop your own ideas for how roller derby penalties should be called.

By the end of this course, you will be great at discovering your own ideas about roller derby rules and delivering them confidently.

This course is highly experimental and teaches you to be experimental, too, in your roller derby officiating.

You will learn to creatively work as an individual ref and you will also learn creative refereeing in a team of officials.

We will prepare you for all the situations you may encounter as a roller derby referee: gameplay, captains’ meetings, official reviews – bring your creativity to all of these.

You will be able to use these creative skills everywhere in your function as a roller derby referee, whether you are making calls, selecting crews or evaluating other referees.

There are no skills requirements for this course.
There are no grades or tests. You decide how good you are, because the only person judging your refereeing should be you.

This course also leads directly to certification, i.e you will be a Certified Creative Referee.

Here are some of the creativity- increasing concepts you will learn on this course:

Approach roller derby penalty calls in new innovative ways.
Push your limits – make calls in ways never seen before.

Have you gotten into a rut? Try calling things differently to how you would normally call them.
You may feel foolish at first, but getting comfortable with feeling foolish is just another way to think outside the box.

Shift your thinking away from your brain’s logic centers and into a more creative part of the brain, where it can be mulled over in a non-rational way.

Work backwards: start with the call you want to make and work backwards to creatively come up with a justification.
Try to challenge your brain’s normal concept of causality.

Draw on other creative sources: players, coaches and the audience may give you new ideas about how to make calls.

Invite randomness into your work. Embrace mistakes and incorporate them into your style.

Always think: what’s the worst that could happen?

Eliminate negativity. Do not limit your ideas. No idea is too ‘out there’.
If other people tell you your ideas are outside of normal, don’t listen to them.
Instead, surround yourself with likeminded people.

Keep your creativity sharp. Like any skill, creativity needs to be exercised to keep it going.
Keep thinking of new situations to apply your creativity to. Any bout is an opportunity for this.

This course will cover all of the WFTDA rule book, though special emphasis will be put on creatively calling forearms, multiplayer block, and cut track penalties.

We have many graduates who have gone on to referee at the big 7 WFTDA tournaments and other high profile roller derby events.

Interested?

Contact the Derpshire Rollergirls to book your place on the creative refereeing course and bring your officiating creativity to a bout near you.

Roller derby captain’s meeting drinking game

Before the start of a roller derby game, the head referee will meet with representatives from each team, usually captains and alternates, in the captain’s meeting.
During the captain’s meeting the head ref will go over the rules and procedures of the bout with the team representatives.

Have you already had the chance to enjoy captain’s meetings? Are you about to go to your first captain’s meeting?

Either way, you can now drink your way to a happier captain’s meeting using our captain’s meeting drinking game!

Take a (discreet!) drink for each of the following:

o Captain’s meeting is awkwardly scheduled to clash with all your team’s essential pre-bout prep.

o No location is specified for the captain’s meeting, making it impossible for the relevant parties to find each other at the scheduled time.

o One team’s reps are late. Take one drink for each minute of time wasted.

o Head ref turns up with their ‘captains-meeting binder’.

o Head ref evades questions from teams about recent rules updates and clarifications.
Take one drink for each evasion tactic:
– The head ref simply quotes the relevant rule from the rule book, but offers no further clarification.
– Head ref claims that more intricate questions had to be submitted beforehand, though no team was made aware of this.
– Head ref instead discusses a clarification that nobody cares about (e.g. the width of stripes on referee uniforms).

o Team reps look befuddled at the concept of a recent rules update or clarification.
Take one drink for each team rep who looks like they are just nodding along.

o Head ref comes up with insane venue- or event-specific rules.
These are often brought up under the guise of ‘safety’ but may in reality be more about something that the head ref needs to work through emotionally.
Take one drink for each made-up rule. Possible examples include:
– No hitting on one side of the track due to lack of room outside the track.
– Time does not stop during any time outs.
– As the venue only allows for a 90% size track, teams may only field three blockers per jam and the engagement zone ends 10ft from the pack.
– No red-coloured items to be worn, because they might attract vampires.

Bonus: It is not really possible to object to any of these insanities, because it would likely mean having to cancel the bout after everyone has travelled there. Take another drink to get through these tough times.

Take extra drinks if it later turns out that these rule changes were only relayed to a portion of the people who needed to know about them (officials, teams, etc).

o Captain’s meeting takes far longer than necessary.

o The head ref warns that teams are not allowed to talk to any official other than the head ref.

o Team reps ask inane question about the rules that could easily be answered from reading the rules (‘How will you be assessing cuts?’), instead of focusing on important questions that cannot be answered simply by looking at the rule book (‘How will you be assessing forearms?’).

o Head ref makes completely unrealistic promises about the skills, attitudes and procedures of their crew (‘We will keep on top of that.’, ‘We are here to ensure a fair and save game.’)

o Head ref details fouling out and expulsion procedure and you just know they cannot wait for this to happen.

o 90% of the information discussed during the captain’s meeting is not useful for either team.

o Head ref declares themselves Supreme and Benevolent Leader of this bout/tournament and clarifies that any and all questioning or back talk from the teams may lead to beheadings.

o Neither team has brought a jammer ref identifier. Items from teams’ merch stalls are quickly repurposed.

o The head NSO hands the teams a stack of evals that they cannot wait to fill out in a professional manner (i.e. give to their least drunk supporter in the audience to fill in).

o One team bombards head ref with rules clarifications that are clearly meant to work in favour of their team and against the other team’s style.

o Time comes to a standstill.
Children are born, people die, lives are lived, the cure for cancer is found, several rare species go extinct and glaciers disappear forever; but you are still in this meeting.

o International records are broken for exchanging the least amount of useful information in the longest possible time. And all this while there are several important topics that could be discussed.

o The head ref completely forgets to address important questions like switching benches at half time or comparing team colours.
Take an extra drink if they have to be reminded by the teams.

o You have lost all sense of purpose and hope. You cannot remember why you are even here.

o The head ref makes comparison to previous captain’s meetings that they have lead (‘This was much shorter than my usual meetings!’).

o At the end of the meeting you still have no idea how forearm penalties will be assessed in this bout.
 

**Anticlockwiseblog does not endorse skaters, bench staff or officials to be intoxicated during a bout.

Rules about penalising skater ‘closest to referee’ to be changed to penalising skater who is ‘furthest away’

The WFTDA have revealed a number of rule-changes that can be expected in upcoming WFTDA rules publications.

Currently, there are several rules which state that, if in doubt as to who was responsible for an illegal action, the skater nearest to the referee is to be given the penalty.

Examples include multiplayer blocks where, if two teammates are grasping, the penalty is issued to the grasper closest to the referee. Analogous guidelines apply if the initiator of an impenetrable link, or the skater most responsible for an impenetrable wall, cannot be identified.

Similarly for illegal procedures: If a team fields more than one designated pivot, and the pivot to last enter the track cannot be identified, it is the pivot closest to the referee handling the call who is instructed to remove the helmet cover or return to their bench. The same principle applies when a team fields too many skaters.

Finally, it is also the skater closest to the referee who is penalised if, at the jam-starting whistle, a pack cannot be identified because one or more skaters are improperly positioned.

The proposed changes state that in future, in situations where the initiator of these illegal action cannot be determined and in absence of a pivot, referees will penalise the skater furthest away from them.

WFTDA spokesperson Mental Floss commented:
“These rules have always seemed a bit lazy and imprecise compared to the rest of the rule set which, elsewhere, is anal enough to, for example, define impact as ‘Illegal forearm or hand contact to an opponent that forces the receiving opponent off balance, forward, and/or sideways but does not cause the opponent to lose relative position or the initiator or a teammate to gain relative position. For example, a slight but observable push with the hands or forearms.’.”

“Those rules about penalising the closest skater are entirely arbitrary anyway, so we thought we might as well switch them around for a while.”

“We felt that the current system was unfair and discriminatory towards skaters who commonly position themselves near the inside and outside edges of the track during gameplay, and are therefore always closest to the inside and outside referees. The skaters in the middle lanes of the track, those are the sneaky ones and should get their fair share of penalty calls. Those skaters already get away with more stuff, because they are often between other skaters and thus harder to see for referees. This rule-change should even things out a bit.”

One level 4 WFTDA-certified referee commented:
“To be honest, I mostly just give those kinds of penalties to a random skater anyway. And I’ll probably continue doing so.”

“Multiplayer block actions are often blocked from view by other skaters, so you kinda have to infer the appropriate penalty call from what you think might be happening.”

“That skater who looked at me funny probably did something shifty, I’ll assign the penalty to them.”

It remains to be seen if the general reasoning behind these rules is to be expanded to other rules. For example, if two teammates both commit a track cut, only one of the skaters (either nearest to or furthest from the referee) would be issued a cutting track penalty. Similarly for (gross) misconducts: if two team mates bite an opponent, only one would get penalised (probably the one that’s furthest away, because that’s less scary).

Roller derby referee crews to be officially classed as third team in a bout

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) have announced this week that referee crews will in future be officially classed as the third team in roller derby bouts.

WFTDA spokeswomen Andromedary commented: “Our membership felt that this reflects the current state of play.”

“Our referees aim for a high level of quality, uniformity and consistency. But at this point in time we are still a long way from reaching this goal. We can simply no longer pretend that different referee crews are consistent or comparable.”

“They say a good referee is one that you don’t even notice. Unfortunately, many referees are all too noticeable.”

Fool Moon, WFTDA representative of the Derpshire Rollergirls, commented: “As a WFTDA-member league, we strongly support this move. We have found that, when preparing for a bout, it wasn’t enough anymore to just train for the opposing team. We had to invest an equal amount of training time into preparing for different referee styles.”

“Our blockers have to develop walls that work for the opposing team AND for the ref crew. Different jammers have such varied styles. And different ref crews do, too. For example, against some jammers you simply cannot afford to leave gaps in your walls or they will get past you. And with some referee crews you simply cannot use your arms at all for anything, or you will get a penalty.”

“Similarly, our jammers know that against certain teams they can get past by taking risks on the edges, more than against other teams. And we know that with some referee crews, we can take risks at the edge of the engagement zone, more than with others, because some refs just do not know their 20 ft.”

“Where possible, we try to find out the names of the referees in advance and study the way they make calls by watching footage of them. We also try to arrange practice bouts staffed by those or similar refs to prepare us as best as we can.”

“For us, the referees stand between us and winning as much as the opposing team. So it makes sense for them to be classed as a team in their own right.”

Andromedary agreed with these statements: “It often takes referees much longer than players to adapt to this ever-changing game. We saw this happen when passive offence started being used. We hope that by introducing an element of competition into officiating, there will be an incentive for referee individuals and crews to improve.”

Holy Molly, captain of the Fartfordshire Rollergirls, also felt positively about this change: “Officials crews have strengths and weaknesses just like roller derby teams, and we look to learn and exploit these.
For me, the problem is this: if an opposing team has a weak players, then we will probably win against this weaker team. But if a ref crew is weaker, then we might lose because of that.”

“There have been many times where the referee crew had a greater impact on the outcome of a game than the two teams on the track. That’s why they need to be a separate team.”

Andromedary explained the situation further: “This change is really just a continuation of the current state of things. WFTDA tournaments tend to be staffed by several officials crews and they each officiate a portion of the games. The best-performing crew is selected to officiate the final game of the tournament. We do not combine several crews for the final game to create a crew with the best individual refs. We think that the experience of having worked together is needed to create a good crew. We think that teamwork outweighs individual skill – exactly as for roller derby teams.”

This begs the question: What does this say for all the bouts where the referee crew have never previously worked together?

Andromedary explained: “Those will be defined as ‘scratch’ crews or ‘challenge’ crews. They are just officiating for fun. They are ultimately not looking to officiate at a competitive level.”

“The only thing we haven’t figured out yet is how to actually ‘score’ the crews. Because, right now, we have zero honest ways to measure how good a referee crew is and how it compares to another crew.”

Certified roller derby referee admits: “I’m just making it up as I go.”

A level three certified roller derby referee from Failingsworth, Derpshire, admitted that their knowledge of the rules roller derby is minimal.

The referee, who will remain anonymous, stated: “I don’t know how this happened, but it seems too late to turn back now.”

“It all started off small. I was about to start my ref training, when a neighbouring league desperately needed refs for a mixed scrimmage. I agreed to do it and that was my way in. Having reffed at that scrimmage I got asked to ref at more mixed scrimmages and once I had those on my ref CV I was offered spots for bouts and eventually tournaments.”

“At no point did anyone ask if I actually knew what I was doing. Just turn up in a stripy top and you are set to go.”

“I throw in some penalty calls here and there, like ‘illegal block’ or ‘failure to play’, so that I look like I’m actually doing something. Are those actual penalties? Who knows! You’d think someone would notice, but they don’t!”

“When I jammer ref, I just hold up an arbitrary number of points somewhere between zero and seven.”

“I thought I was done for when I reffed a sanctioned bout under a highly-certified head ref. But after the game she simply complimented me on my great positioning and that was it.”

“I certainly feel that we should have some sort of system in place to stop people like me from reffing all these bouts.”