Reviewing Lineup Time Officiating Decisions

Good day all. A member of the CSRD officiating staff asked me (our league’s WFTDA ref) to post the following:

Taking a cue from the discussion at

regarding when something should be standardized and when it doesn’t need to be.

Quoting some of Muffin’s comments there:

“To justify a new standard, there must be a need. It is easy to brainstorm scenarios in which a standard could be helpful, but it needs to grow out of a pattern of confusion in real games…the misunderstanding needs to have impact in those games, and those misunderstandings need to be a pattern…The creation of a standard needs to come from an observed problem in worldwide play, rather than a hypothetical.”

And then linking to a looooong discussion about OR timing procedure at this comment thread: Redirecting... (some of which is not on this topic)

Which I shall now summarize as:

  • Sometimes officials are either fixing an officiating error or starting a discussion about something that might change during Lineup time between jams.

  • Sometimes teams signal for an OR while this is happening.

  • The question of whether any discussion should finish then the OR begin or whether the discussion should immediately pause for the OR then resume after has been confusing, inconsistently officiated, and has had game impact in multiple instances including in high-level derby.

  • The question of whether a team should a) not be charged an OR, b) be charged and retain it, or c) be charged and not retain it if the topic at issue is the same as the officials were already discussing/fixing and depending on which option was chosen about finishing/pausing the discussion has been inconsistently officiated, has led to confusion, impact, and possibly unfair gameplay.

  • The above is further confusing/unfair due to the clock stoppage – on the one hand due to an officiating error, on the other hand due to a team exercising their right, on the third hand potentially would have happened anyway due to officiating discretion (OTO).

Given that officiating procedures are soon to be going through a refresh, I’d like to suggest this topic be decided clearly.

  1. Should an OR be given priority over already-occurring officials’ discussion?

  2. Conversely, should all discussion first resolve before an OR is listened to (and corollary: once an OR begins, nothing other than what is being ORed should change during the current timeout).

  3. If an OR is called to discuss an error that is resolved before the OR takes place, does that team A) retain (since they are reviewing a situation that by definition had an officiating error), B) not retain (since there is nothing to OR and therefore no changes have been made), or C) not get charged for an OR at all?

– A seems too close to using an OR as a TTO, but with a different retention result

– B seems overly punitive

– C seems unfair to the other team, given a requested clock stoppage with no consequence

Additionally:

1.3.2 of the rules says:

“The only officiating decisions that can be the subject of an Official Review are those made during the prior Jam, or during the lineup time preceding the prior Jam.”

In my experience, late penalties that are issued during Lineup Time have been ORed in that same Lineup Time, though technically cannot be. It makes most sense to have the rules allow it as it’s being practiced.

Should the rule be changed to formally allow current-Lineup-Time officiating decisions to be reviewed during current Lineup Time?

That Facebook discussion is not publicly readable. So I’ll not be aware of any points already made there that are not in the summary.

I don’t think this is a necessary consequence of finishing any ongoing discussion before starting to hear the OR.

And I think it would be a bad idea. It is common practice for NSOs to do paperwork cross checks during ORs. So there is a decent chance that officiating errors that have nothing to do with the OR are discovered while it is going on. Do we now forbid the correction of those because they are not subject of the OR? Or do we allow them to be corrected in an OTO after the OR? Doing the former feels way too restrictive. Doing the latter means that any officiating errors discovered when discussing the OR could be corrected in the same way. So all this would do is add procedural overhead.

Regarding what should become procedure:

  • If the team is charged with an OR, it should usually be retained. The rules require “that an officiating error was made in relation to the situation under review” in order for it to be retained. And there clearly was an officiating error even if the Officials then corrected themselves. The only exception I can see is if the correction was communicated before the OR was signaled. (Because that would otherwise be a loophole to effectively use an OR as TTO and still retain it.)
  • If the clock is stopped for an OTO, the signalling of the OR did not affect the flow of the game and it seems reasonable to allow the team to retract it as if it had never been signaled. If there would have not been an OTO (because the Officials resolved the issue quickly), the OR did affect the flow of the game and should stand. The difficult case is when there would have been an OTO anyways but the OR preceded it. I’d prefer that case to be handed like the case where the OTO was actually taken.

I did suggest this in the thread on the current rule change proposal with the same rationale. But we did not get any indication so far if Rules Theory intends to pick this suggestion up.

How I handle it. If I’m HR and in discussion and there’s already a clock stoppage, I tell the teams to wait until it’s over and I tell them what we discussed, before I take the OR. The OR signal is basically ignored if the clock is already stopped. Then after I explain the discussion, I ask if they still want to take it. If so we do the thing and they are charged; if not, we start the jam.

In a case where the clock is running and I’m HR and I’m discussing a thing and a team takes an OR, the clock stops, and I finish my discussion first. If in my discretion we would have taken an OTO anyway and if the lost period time is not impactful, I apply the same process as the above - delay the OR until I’ve finished my discussion, then see if they still want to use it. I would charge them their OR only if it had impact on the clock (1 second, no. 29 seconds, yes. Apply discretion.)

If a team calls an OR right away and it stops the clock and it’s THEIR OR, I would still have my own discussion with the refs first and still inform the teams about the outcome, but I’d charge them their OR for stopping the clock, and let them retain it if the issue was addressed already.

However, all an OR does is force one issue into a discussion. It does not (and should not) prevent officials from discussing other things.

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Thanks for your comments, Muffin. The official had the following reply:

That’s certainly a reasonable procedure! But it isn’t a standardized one, and various crews I’ve worked on had alternative procedures. It’s caused confusion and impact, in my experience. That’s why I think it’s a good opportunity for Oversight clarity.

Re: discussing other things. Personally, I happen to agree. I was trying to make my first post be as neutral as possible and to encompass all of the opinions about it I’ve heard. Again, a top-down decision on the OR timing procedure I think is warranted.

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