Explaining the new “Unwillingness to Fight” (P-Card) Conventions (and other refereeing notes from the NAC)

Another NAC done and some more reflections to write down. Here’s what you need to know about the new P-Card conventions and other little nuggets I thought I’d share.

Enforcing Unwillingness to Fight: the New Interpretation

For the last season, most international competitions have changed the conventions around enforcement of P-Card rules to include resetting the “shot clock” on non-valid hits. As of this past weekend, this has changed domestically in the States as well. The change in convention boils down to this: the shot clock resets on a touch awarded, a touch off target (e.g. floor), each penalty hit, and at the beginning of each period. But to break this down for you, I’ve made the following visual:

Random Musings/Nuggets from this Weekend:

  • Props to the RC. After the first day of the event, I had a conversation with Patrick Webster about the confusion between the domestic versus international interpretation of the “Unwillingness to fight” conventions. I’m of the belief that the domestic rule interpretations should always align 1:1 with the international ones so as to not confuse our athletes. The RC quickly convened that evening, and by the morning, Patrick had sent an email out to the referees at the event announcing that we’d be aligning to the international convention. It was swift, quick resolution to an issue that helped alleviate confusion for referees, coaches, and fencers alike.
  • There are new hair enforcement standards to be aware of. Whereas before, the hair could not be touching the Fencer’s name, we are now being told that the hair must be above the collar. Keep those buns high, or just be like me and go bald so this isn’t a problem you have to worry about.
  • This is a battle I know I’ll never win, but I’ll bark anyways. Domestically, I think a “smart business casual” norm should be adopted for referee attire. There’s something to be said that I have to dress up nicer to referee at a NAC than I do working in any Fortune 500 company. When you’re on your feet for up to 12 hours a day and need your brain to be consistently on point, I think a little room for comfort should be given. We’re more than a 5th of the way through the 21st century. Can’t we agree that for men, a blazer, button down, slacks, and dress shoes exude professionalism, with or without a tie?
  • I really wish domestically, we were less tolerant of the “Tennis Walk” because abroad, the Fencers get back en garde pretty quickly. What’s a “Tennis Walk?” You know, that moment after a touch where the fencer saunters past the en garde line, keeps walking, takes off the mask, fixes his/her hair, takes a selfie, posts a video to Tik-Tok, and has a few bites of a hot dog before getting back en garde. With so few referees, every second counts and I’d personally like to see some more standards set from the RC as to when the tennis walk heads into “delaying the bout” territory.
  • The “Three Points of Contact” myth remains the most pervasive urban legend in Fencing and I found myself screaming into the void about that one this weekend. Per rule t.27: “Displacing the target and ducking are allowed even if during the action the unarmed hand and/or the knee of the rear leg comes into contact with the piste.”
  • I learned over the weekend that the Board is responsible for approving changes to the rulebook. But…why? Outside of the athlete reps and an active referee on the Board, the Board may not be equipped to really make such decisions. It seems that the rulebook changes ought to fall on the Referees’ Commission to make these changes. The RC typically comprises of international referees and/or seasoned and experienced domestic refs. It seems the buck ought to stop with them. Between rule changes and the Board also having final say on disciplinary decisions, I continue to believe that a holistic look at the organization’s governance structure should be in order.

Minneapolis Referee Food Review: The first day had some delicious Mediterranean food in the venue and I thought it would set the tone for a wonderful weekend. But yesterday they served us marinated chicken that I’m pretty sure was marinated in sewage. Gross.

2 thoughts on “Explaining the new “Unwillingness to Fight” (P-Card) Conventions (and other refereeing notes from the NAC)

    1. huh. I would think that corps-a-corps should reset the clock. If they’re getting so close to hit each other bodily, then at least they’re fighting… and not being passive.

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