Are you new to derby or just looking to brush up on the rules? Wayne Mooney is your man! We’ll be hearing more of his unique take on the WFTDA rulebook in the coming months. To start, he explains how to tell if you’re a failure (at reforming the pack.)
Since finding a spider in my bed last month, I’ve decided never to sleep again. I’m glad I did, because after staying awake for two weeks straight, I had a terrifying vision of the future. Rampant movie piracy will cause the complete collapse of the global entertainment industry. To alleviate their boredom, humankind will turn to the only form of entertainment remaining: head-to-head peanut butter and jelly sandwich making. Two competitors armed with butter knives will simultaneously attempt to spread a quantity of their assigned condiment onto the same slice of bread, each carefully balancing their efforts between spreading their condiment and blocking their opponent from doing the same. Sadly, there’s no stopping this horrible yet delicious future, but at least it provides a convenient metaphor to explain the reasons behind derby’s failure to reform penalty.
Imagine what would happen if the slice of bread were to disappear during a competition. Madness! Anarchy! Jelly and peanut butter would be smeared everywhere with no way to determine which contestant was the winner! Our descendants are thankfully safe from this nightmare, as physics prevents bread from spontaneously vanishing.
Roller derby’s equivalent to the bread slice, on the other hand, is conceptual and thus much more prone to sudden evaporation. We call our slice of bread “the pack”, and without it our sport falls apart just as surely as the future’s would without theirs. Even an action as simple as returning to play from the penalty box becomes needlessly complicated in the absence of a rearmost in-play blocker to return behind. Fortunately, the pack is as easy to reform as it is to destroy, and the rules require that the skaters do so as quickly as possible.
The garden variety no pack situation has one team in the front with the other team a little more than ten feet behind them. The front team is required to immediately slow down, and the back team is required to immediately speed up. Until the two groups reform the pack by getting back within ten feet of each other, the front team has to keep slowing until they’re stopped, and the back team has to keep accelerating until they’re sprinting. If either team fails to do so, one of their skaters gets a penalty for failing to reform. It’s not as bad as it might sound, though. Then, once the “slice of bread” is back together, the bout continues, and at the end of it, the winner gets to slap another piece of bread on top of the first and eat the whole… No, wait. That’s the sandwich thing. Sorry, I’m really tired.