Insulting the ref

Discussion in 'Rules and Referee Questions' started by jdude97, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    USFA rule t.82.3b states "Any person who, for any reason, threatens or insults an official commits an
    offense of the 4th group and is penalized according to article t.119." This is generally accepted to include accusing the referee of cheating. A 4th group penalty is a black card on the first offense. My question then is: are there any other penalties a ref could give according USFA rulebook after being insulted/accused of cheating?

    Sometimes a ref wants to convey that they are unhappy with the unsportsmanlike comment made by the fencer and so would like to apply at least a yellow card if not a group 3 red card (recall a second group 3 penalty is a black card). A stern G3R accompanied by a comment of "do it again and you're out" I'm told gets the job done (I've never actually given a G3R myself). I've seen both yellows and reds given in these instances, but I'm not actually sure they're justified under the rules. For group 1 penalties, I guess you might argue "delaying the bout" or "refusal to obey" are legit grounds, but tenuous. For group 3, it doesn't seem "disturbing order" applies here if it's a comment made directly to the ref (as opposed to a loud swear as I've seen receive a G3R). The group 3 I'd like to apply is "anti-sporting behavior" but that seems to only apply to a spectator (and gives them a yellow card for first offense, black for second, since spectators can't get red cards).

    No fencer will ever appeal their yellow or red since they know they're getting a break from a black card, but still curious as if this situation ever comes up, I'd like to be able to apply a yellow or red card to de-escalate rather than escalate with a black card while still following the rules.
     
  2. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    There is no USFA rule t.82.3b. Update your rulebook.

    Note that in the "Offenses and penalties" summary table in t.170 the Group 3 "Fencer disturbing order on the strip" section includes t.109
     
  3. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee is a Verified Fencing ExpertMac A. Bee Podium

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    Prior to carding, demonstrating strict rule adherence goes a long way to forestalling such situations. Run a tight ship and all but the most hot-headed will comply. Slack and you have to deal with the consequence.
     
  4. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    Sorry for citing the wrong rule. I blade FdN! (I was getting my info from an FdN article which granted was a few years old)

    t.170 is for convenient reference only, so I am not terribly satisfied that it cites t.109, although that is a first step and probably would be sufficient justification for giving the G3R.
     
  5. tbryan

    tbryan Podium

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    Both of those statements seem wrong to me. Make sure to cross-reference the rules that the penalty chart refers to. Using the 2018 rule book, the 3rd group penalty chart entry for "Fencer disturbing order on strip" references t.108.2; t.109; t.110; t.137.2.
    Emphasis is mine. Thus, the penalty chart and t.109 are specifically telling you that insulting the referee is part of disturbing order on strip, and it's appropriate to apply a group 3 red card in that case.

    t.109 also goes on to say
    That is, you can give a group 3 red card, or you can jump right to black if the fencer is being really insulting or physically threatening. The penalty chart refers to this part of t.109 in the footnote for the "Fencer disturbing order on strip" red card. That footnote says, "In serious cases, the referee may exclude/expel immediately."

    Therefore, for your specific question, I think that t.109 and "Fencer disturbing order on strip" is all you need.

    And just to clarify your comment about the 3rd group "Anti-sporting behavior," that penalty references t.121.2, which has nothing to do with spectators:
    It sounds like you were confusing that penalty with "Any person not on strip disturbing order," which references other rules: t.109; t.110; t.111; t.132.2; t.133; t.137.3/4; t.168.
     
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  6. tbryan

    tbryan Podium

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    Depending on situation, my first step would probably be to give the fencer an opportunity to correct his own behavior.

    Fencer: You didn't see my parry?
    Referee: The attack arrives. You were hit, and then you parried.
    Fencer: I guess you're blind as well as deaf.
    Referee, reaches in to the pocket where he keeps his red card, "I'm sorry, the venue is a little noisy." (Even more clear if the referee is now holding the edge of the red card, visible to the fencer, without taking it out of his pocket.) "I don't think that I heard that last comment."

    If the fencer is smart, he'll backtrack, "Oh, uh. Sorry. Nothing. Just talking to myself." Fencer gets on guard, and hopefully that's the end of it. On occasion, I've seen a referee do something like this, and the fencer decides that he wants the card. "You heard me. I said that you're blind as well as deaf." Then the referee really has to penalize him with the red card. It's probably a good idea to make it clear to the fencer that it's a group 3 red card, and the second offense will be a black card.
     
  7. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    Thank you for your detailed post tbryan. You're right that I like most should refer to the body of the rules more frequently. I personally would give a G3R in the scenario you just described without a chance for backtracking because a) the fencer deserves punishment for their bad behavior and b) I find once the card comes out the behavior is fixed. I've never had this situation come up but with little things like coming en guard properly I've given warning til I was blue in the mouth but once I give one yellow card the person never does the thing wrong for the rest of the tournament. I understand the argument that not giving the card is an opportunity for de-escalation, but I think giving the G3R and not an immediate black card is sufficient de-escalation. Regardless these are interpretation and best practice questions, not rules questions, but it's helpful to know what options are available to the ref.
     
  8. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee is a Verified Fencing ExpertMac A. Bee Podium

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    Perhaps - but then you're favoring that fencer.
     
  9. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    True but less true if you apply the rules equally in all circumstances. I agree though for this reason why rule violations must be dealt with strictly. With that said there is so much referee's discretion when it comes to these disturbing order calls that it's downright impossible to say that a ref favored a fencer short of totally ignoring the relevant infraction.
     
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