Situation Clarification on XVI.H.3(c), vs XVI.H.4 and XVII.A

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My opponent, playing defense, called a foul on me, the offensive player for the following situation. For clarification, there was body contact, however I did not call a foul, and considered the contact incidental.

My teammate sent me a somewhat floaty pass directly vertical down the field. I had about 2 steps on my opponent both travelling in the same direction following the disc. Once I had gotten to the point under the disc at which I thought I had best position to jump for the disc, I stopped. Admittedly, this was not directly under the disc; it was the point where I could prevent my opponent from getting to it while also being able to jump for the disk; essentially using my initial 2 step advantage to box out the defender.

The defender was watching the disc and did not see me stop my forward motion. Surprised, he ran into me and called a foul. I claimed I had established position here, stopped and was going to go straight up for the disc. His argument (he was particularly confident that he was in fact very knowledgeable of the rules) was that I had interrupted his running line and this was illegal. Not having a rule book handy I was particularly flabbergasted by his take and therefore not firm in my stance that I was in the right.

However, going back through the rule book, I feel both interpretations could be considered so I want some clarification if this or a similar situation arises.

His argument settles around Blocking Fouls:

XVI.H.3(c)c) Blocking Fouls

(1) When the disc is in the air a player may not move in a manner solely to prevent an opponent from taking an unoccupied path to the disc and any resulting non-incidental contact is a foul on the blocking player which is treated like a receiving foul (2) A player may not take a position that is unavoidable by a moving opponent when time, distance, and line of sight are considered. Non-incidental contact resulting from taking such a position is a foul on the blocking player.

I might argue that that my position was avoidable if the defender was watching me instead of the disc, but he clearly thought I was taking a position where contact was unavoidable.  He might also have thought that my stopping prevented his path to the disc.

My counter to this argument might simply be XVII:

XVII.A: Each player is entitled to occupy any position on the field not occupied by an opposing player unless specifically overridden elsewhere, provided that no personal contact is caused in taking such a position.

or, XVI.H.4 (which supercedes any of the other rules, however it wasn't dangerously aggressive behaviour, but he did collide with a stationary opponent)

4. Reckless disregard for the safety of fellow players or other dangerously aggressive behavior (such as significantly colliding into a stationary opponent), regardless of whether or when the disc arrives or when contact occurs is considered dangerous play and is treated as a foul.

 

I'd be happy with others thoughts on this, because based on his interpretation of the blocking foul rules, I feel like I would have needed to have given up optimal disc-catching space that I felt entitled to, just to get out of the way of his movement. It is also a little unusual because the defender called the foul on the offensive player.

We had a similar situation the other night. I would say it is everyone's responsibility to avoid contact and that trumps everything else. If you could see that he couldn't see you, and that personal contact would occur by you taking that position then you shouldn't do that. It's also his responsibility to maintain awareness of other peoples' relative positions on the field and avoid contact with them. So, he could call a blocking foul, you could call dangerous play if he ran into you. Neither is ideal. Much better if whomever sees the potential contact avoids it. But it puts you at a serious disadvantage if you are the only one avoiding contact. And I've only seen blocking fouls called when a second player gets in there who has no intentions on the disc, just in creating space for his/her teammate to catch the disc. Clearly there are several possible interpretations in the situation you describe. Sounds like a little more field awareness would solve that. The other thing that would help: talk to you teammates about not throwing floaty passes and then that situation won't occur. :P

You've correctly identified the most relevant rules. I do always caution against being quick to draw XVI.H.4 though, because this is a rule intended for very exceptional (at least, one would hope) cases. In general, running into an avoidable, stationary opponent is ordinarily just a foul; *significantly* running into a stationary opponent is a XVI.H.4 foul.

In the scenario you've described, players reading a disc seldom change speed from a full sprint to a dead stop on a dime. That is to say, there's a transition as they judge the disc and the space. Most of the time, their positioning is visible and avoidable to anyone else arriving subsequently on the scene. Therefore, it is exceedingly rare that the first person to position himself for a jump has committed an unavoidable blocking foul. And unless the player in question turns around to look at his opponent, and to position himself in the way, there is rarely cause to think it was a XVI.H.3.c.1 foul.

It is conceivable, however, that the player in question misreads the disc terribly, or gives himself such a ridiculous margin that when he does stop, it is sudden, unexpected, and unavoidable to someone who just happens to have been running that way. That situation may indeed cause the other player to wonder, and to call a foul.

However, when events like these do occur (like the overwhelming majority of rear-end collisions in traffic), they are usually fouls caused by the second person on the scene, and not the first.

Thanks atanarjuat,

I think your response mirrors my thoughts on the specific situation as well as my subsequent interpretation of the rules.