Are you new to derby or just looking to brush up on your rulebook skills? Wayne Mooney is your man! This week he takes on the elusive Jammer Penalty Swap…
There’s a widely recognized phenomenon where a jammer in the penalty box leaves just as the other jammer arrives. The reason for this is simple: jammers, by their very nature are flighty, energetic creatures. They are social butterflies, albeit ones who prefer hip-checks to more traditional forms of pleasantry. Trapped in the penalty box, a jammer finds herself unable to flit, dart, or whiz. She finds that zipping anywhere is incredible difficult, and that dashing is right out. Deprived of her usual methods of amusing herself, she is left with nothing to do but contemplate reality, and quickly finds herself contemplating the nature of reality. “How,” she wonders aloud, “can I be certain anything exists at all? How can I know that I’m not imagining all of this?”
The thing you need to know about penalty box officials is that they have a deep-seated need to be fair, but that they just can’t stand metaphysics, so when the second jammer arrives, they quickly usher the original back onto the track before they end up enduring a double dose of solipsistic nonsense. Then, to satisfy their need for fairness, they only require the second jammer to serve the amount the first served before being booted from the penalty box.
What most people don’t realize is there are a few variations on that standard scenario that have different outcomes. To understand those, you need to realize that the only thing box officials hate more than philosophy is recidivism. A jammer who is shooed from the box at the arrival of her opponent and then commits a second penalty while her opponent is still sitting and pondering the nature of existence will find that box official sufficiently indignant as to put up with both jammers’ epistemological musings until one of their penalty clocks runs down to zero. Similarly, a jammer who commits two penalties close together and arrives at the box with two minutes to serve will find the box official unwilling to let her go when her opponent arrives. Instead, the unfortunate jammer’s opponent will be sent on her way, and the official’s need for parity will force them to shave a minute off the seated jammer’s remaining time.
It also happens occasionally that both jammers sit in the box at the same time. When that happens, the penalty box officials haven’t had time to tire of either jammer’s philosophical musings, so they hold them both until they realize what they’ve gotten themselves into, whereupon they promptly release both jammers. For an unknown reason, it always takes exactly ten seconds for the box official to come to that realization. It’s just one of nature’s unknowable mysteries, I guess. Like where roads come from, or what the sun tastes like.