devo's volleyball – Australian volleyball: news and views

stupid(ity) rule(s)

Posted by markleb on April 12, 2009

The stupidest rule in volleyball is undoubtedly the rule governing out of rotation penalties.  This says that a team that is out of rotation should lose all the points they won while they were out of rotation.  This seems clear but it is not.

At the beginning of each set, the coach fills out a lineup sheet.  The 2nd referee checks it.  If the players are in the wrong position they must move to the ones on the lineup sheet.  If the the wrong player is on the sheet, the coach can choose either to leave it as is, or use one of his substitutions to correct it.  This is the ultimate penalty for filling out the sheet incorrectly.  Or is it?

No, it is not.

Imagine the 2nd referee cannot tell the difference between a 9 and a 1 and lets the wrong player start the set.  Imagine then that the scorer who should also be checking the lineup makes the same mistake.  Imagine that at 10-9 someone notices the problem that has theoretically been checked (and approved!) 20 times already.  If they refer to the scoresheet they will find that until the moment that it is noticed, the team has been in the correct rotation with the correct players.  Logically then they will give the serve to the other team and maybe lose one point.  However, in this case logic does not rule, stupidity does.  They do not refer to the scoresheet but get together amongst themselves and decide from their memories how long the team was out of rotation.  The very people that could not be relied upon to read two numbers correctly are now in charge of deciding how many points the team will lose.

Now imagine that it is the semifinal of an important championhips, there are 2000 people in the gym and hundreds of thousands watching on tv.  The result of the match could determine which team goes through the final and hundreds of thousands of dollars are riding on it.

So there is a big scene in the gym.  People shouting and yelling, security guards intervening.  The referees somehow decide to take off 5 points (a number that defies logic, surely it is either 0 if they read the scoresheet or 10 if they ‘remember’) and a team, a city, a sponsor have to pay for the mistake of the referee.

But the biggest loser is volleyball.  The unsightly scene that was played on national television was no advertisement for the game and finished it prematurely as a spectacle.  And the stupidest rule in volleyball sticks around waiting for the right stupidity conditions to ruin another game.

8 Responses to “stupid(ity) rule(s)”

  1. Baron Von Marlon said

    I think this happened last year in the WAVL. One of the UTSSU players wasn’t on the score sheet, but started the set. At around 10 points or so the scorer noticed and they lost all their points. I was alright though, they still won the set and the match and the WAVL. Go UTSSU!

  2. Robbo said

    thats why the Refs have to check it… they obviously didn’t do their jobs.. i hope they were removed of any opportunities to ref any more high class games…

  3. Dmack said

    sounds funny, wish i could have seen the match, and also know who made the ruling, they clearly stuffed up.

    It seems nowadays devo that our so called ‘chief referees’ or those right at the top (and some at the bottom) don’t adhere correctly to the rule books, instead govern rules they have been told of or (and my pet hate) those that have become socially expectable in club volleyball. We need to go back to ruling from the books (within reason of common sense however) so we all have a clear understanding of where we stand. I know the rule you are referring to and i remember when it first came in, becasue all i could think of is WHY?

    It reads, after explaining rotational faults;

    Additionally, the scorer should determine the exact moment when the fault was committed
    and all points scored subsequently by the team at fault must be cancelled. The opponent’s
    points remain valid.

    however it also clearly stipulates how it will be regulated, and that is;
    If that moment cannot be determined, no point(s) cancellation takes place, and a point and
    service to the opponent is the only sanction.

    I understand devo that this rule is as you say ‘stupid’, however if the rule book is followed i can’t see there being a problem.

    (i have included all relevant chapter numbers and rule numbers for those cheif refs to brush up on)

    • markleb said

      The rule is clear, it is just illogical.
      By definition the 2nd ref and scorer must signal the fault at the exact moment it occurs. So no points need to be taken off.
      The official record of the match is the scoresheet. According to the scoresheet, no fault has been committed until it is signalled. So no points can be taken off.
      If the scorer CAN determine when the fault was made it means he either saw it or recorded it. Then why didn’t he signal it when it happened?
      If he saw the fault and didn’t signal it he is not doing his job. If he didn’t see the fault he is not doing his job. In both instances, taking points off is completely arbitrary and penalises a team for the errors of others. In this case with great costs.

      PS This isn’t one of Devo’s posts. He would never be so critical of anyone :)

    • markleb said

      If you want to ‘see’ it, there is a series of photos of the incident here.

  4. nathan said

    Same thing happened in the last game of world cup 2007. I’m sure millions of people were watching the game on Tv as Brazil up 2-1 were down about 8-3 in the 4th to Japan. After the out of rotation was recognised (the middles started in opposite position to what they should off i think) It took at least 15 minutes to set things right, and Japan went back to 1-3 down. Int he end they lost the set to about 22 so I think we worked out without the points loss it would of gone to 5 sets with japan winning the set to 22. It’s dissapointing that the team has to take the fall for a refereeing error. I don’t really agree with the rule at all because of this.

  5. edbinnie said

    I hate to point out the obvious, but well before the referee and scorer (and assistant scorer) failed to pick up the error, the coach, the assistant coach, the trainer, and the players themselves made a pretty big mistake too.

    A wise old bunyip once told me that a referee can only make a mistake if players/coaches have made a mistake first (the only exception being a referee calling something that did not happen – in which case the ref is just seeing things!).

    I know that lineup sheets are also supposed to be run off to the broadcasters before the start of each set – did they pick it up either?

    I’d be inclined to agree with you though Mark, in that the result was not a good one for volleyball. The whole concept of managing and tracking rotations is to ensure that no team is given an unfair advantage by being able to use a strong server more than once in a rotation, or a stronger attacker on front court for more than the 3 turns in a rotation. This is clearly a case where no team had an advantage or disadvantage, so penalizing that harshly is crazy, especially when all it does is further the “anti-referee” cause. I’m sure neither coach was happy – the one that got the benefit was probably wondering why he didn’t get the full 10 removed.

    I’d like to point out though that on a strict basis, I believe the above application is wrong. The rotational fault only applies to service order. So it must have been the incorrect server that has already served the ball. If the player is not serving the ball, then it cannot be a rotation fault, so the entire rule of 7.7 does not apply (unless of course the player in this circumstance had just served 5 times, in which case the resulting decision matches the rotation rule). And if the incorrect player was serving, then it must be that only the duration of points that the player served is under question.

    The rule dealing with starting lineup 7.4 only clarifies discrepancies before the start of the set. My interpretation is that by allowing play to start, the referees have ruled that the lineup matches the team on court, so you can’t go back to the start of the set because the referee and scorer have ‘verified’ that play is ok. If you look at Case book scenario 2.6, whilst this is not the same, as the scenario is mid set, the second referee is in fact verifying the player positions. Therefore, the error should go back to the start of the set 0-0.
    According to casebook scenario 2.5, service rotation errors can only be picked up at the instance that it is noticed by the scorer, and doesn’t work retro actively. However, I don’t believe that 7.7 applies.

    So the only ruling that can apply is a positional fault, and the positional fault is for one point only.

    The rule book does not deal with scenarios such as if incorrect players return to the court following a time out. Similarly, the incorrect replacement of the libero is not dealt with. Even in the case book, these can only be for 1 point. These all specify that the referee correctly picked up the errors.

    So what other rules apply?

    23.2.3 The first referee has the power to decide any matter involving the game including those not provided for in the Rules.
    This is clearly that scenario.

    What else could the referee have done?
    I’ve already mentioned restarting the set, which I don’t think is the best option. You can insist that it was a positional fault – the player that should have been on the court was not on court at the point of service, and then correct it.
    Or you can insist that this was a substitution carried out at the start of the set, thereby removing any other problem.

    Let me know what you think! especially some of those international refs out there!!!

  6. Baron Von Marlon said

    My god, you’re a nerd Ed!

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