No more minors!

Well, it’s finally happened! We’ve all heard the rumors and speculation about WFTDA eliminating minor penalties from their ruleset but today it was announced in a official press release that effective as of January 1st, 2013, there are no more minors!

Part of me likes this call. If I’m completely honest I’ve always found that the WFTDA ruleset has been too convoluted for it’s own good. Many of the rule descriptions are not very clear, despite there being so much written, and the very thin line between a major or minor penalty is often difficult to call. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been part of discussions where the wording of penalties was debated to death due to the many ways some of them can be interpreted. Hopefully this will bring a lot more clarity to what is and isn’t illegal.

That being said, with simpler rules comes easier ways for skaters to work around them. I mean let’s be honest here, you ladies sure know how to push the boundaries of play and argue calls due to wording! And let’s not forget that there will absolutely be an intense adjustment period as well for all of your volunteer referees. Hopefully all will be able to adapt but I wonder if some might not. Many have been working on the current ruleset since it’s inception 2 years ago.

I also can’t help but wonder, pending exactly how it will play out in January, will the need for refs and NSOs decrease? Will we still require 7 skating officials and 10+ non skating officials or will games be able to operate more smoothly with less? Furthermore, will the gap between no contact and a major become so wide that it allows for more reckless gameplay?

Perhaps it’s too early to worry about any of this but I do forsee an equally large adjustment period for skaters in which bouts may see injuries more frequently if teams do not take it upon themselves to thoroughly edjucate their players right away. No more learning the rules as you go girls! Be safe and make sure you get on studying the new ruleset alongside your officials as soon as it is made available!

What are your thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

EDIT: Thanks to vmstar for providing a direct link to the beta no minor ruleset changes!

I’ll admitt I hadn’t really bothered to look for them before as a lot of the zebras in my area did not believe minors would be completely eliminated any time soon (as in this year or next… go figure!) and only slight adjustments would be made to the existing ruleset. As this is my first season as a referee I’ve been more concerned with ensuring I am well versed on the existing rules as those are the current standard. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned convoluted nature of what currently exists I frequently find myself needing to read through them in order to clarify things before and after a bout. Especially when I’m confronted with unique situations each and every game. Then there’s always that “gray area” that constantly keeps you returning to the book later to check the wording of things again to ensure you’re making the right calls.

But I’m glad I took the time to read through them because many of the changes sound like they will alleviate a number of these frustrations and confusions (on an aside: some of the illegal procedure changes are especially interesting). Plus, as Margie RedLips mentions in here comment below (give it a read, it’s great) these new rules will also likely make the sport much more enjoyable for fans. Many of the audience members I have talked to after a bout who were watching derby for the first time said they had a pretty good evening but were completely lost with what was going on. I had the same experience at the first game I ever watched last winter and if it weren’t for the new friends I had made within the derby commnity I’m not sure if I would have come out to many more games. The improved accessibility is reason enough to be excited.

Besides, less paperwork after a bout will be great!

Keep the comments coming!

The ever watchful eyes of refs. Photo credit: Mindy McGregor (aka Risque Rose)



  1. I skimmed through the new rule set this afternoon (I have to admit to being pretty skeptical when I first heard of the changes) but I think it’s going to be a positive change. Right now the rules can be confusing to a new fan (heck, even for new skaters and refs) so simplifying will make the game more accessible. I think we’ll find we’ll need less NSOs and I’m ok with that. It should also simplify paperwork too (not everything but penalty tracking, penalty wrangling, outside whiteboard, maybe a few others.) It might be a little more realistic to have just one penalty tracker.

    I agree with some of the changes of how penalties are to be called. I like that a “low impact” elbow is now no impact, and all cuts on an opposing player are now majors (just to name two.) I know there’s a lot of calls I didn’t make because I was slow assessing impact, or calling something minor instead of major. I think it’s going to make reffing a less grey area: “Did she fall down? Then it’s a penalty.” No more “Well, she stumbles a little bit, I guess that’s a minor…”

    There’s going to be players who push the limits, obviously, there always will be. But what’s the stereotype of derby anyway? Broads in fishnets punching each other. Players will come up with new strategies. The game will evolve. In the grand scheme of things, roller derby is a young sport and it’s still finding itself. I think the next year is going to be very interesting to say the least.

    1. Thank you for the wonderful reply!

      It’s interesting you bring up accessibility and I wish I had mentioned that as well in my post (in hindsight I put too much focus on the “what ifs” and concerns in comparisson to the benefits I see as well), I definitely agree that these changes are actually phenomenal for fans and the sport as a whole.

      Too often can you look around the crowd and see people sitting there who are either bored or absolutely lost (sometimes both). So this is a great thing for attendance in gneral as new fans will be more likely to stick around. Agree on the refs front too. The old rules were incredibly overwhelming when I first got started and that “grey area” you mention causes a lot of second guessing as well. Some officials might even swallow their whistle entirely when confronted by it. I also know of several locals here who were once interested in refereeing but upon seeing all of the penalties going on during the first game they viewed each of them back out saying “there’s no way I’m doing all of that!”.

      So yes, it will be a very interesting year indeed! And that’s cool you were able to skim over some of the new rules, I haven’t personally come across them yet but have heard a few things second hand, some of which is great while some of which I’m still a little skeptical on but will hold final judgement until I see them in practice. Pretty exciting stuff though!

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