Playing Field Obstructions

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#1

If a player trips over a marker cone or a length of Port-a-field tape, can that player call an obstruction violation under III.G, or is he just an unlucky klutz?

I saw a player trip yesterday -- was that you? My vote goes toward the 'klutz' call!
:)

The obstruction rule would refer to something that needs to be moved for you to play. You can't really do that with the Port-a-field tape -- it's going to remain there for the duration of the game.

Common sense argument: Oh puhleeeaze! :)

Rules argument: It's similar to the fact that we rarely play on a field that meets the dimension
requirements stated in the rules. If both teams start play on a field, that's tacit approval by both
captains to accept the current field.

I'd like to think I'm not the only one, but yeah, I took an unceremonious spill over the sideline on Sunday. My outside foot hooked the Port-a-field tape as I pivoted for a dump throw, and the snag brought me down flat on my face. I wasn't expecting that.

And while I was lifting myself off the grass, I desperately tried to think of something --anything-- I could call to stop the stall count. Well, I couldn't think of anything at the time, so I just scrambled to set a new pivot. I later reviewed the playing field rules just to see if there was something else I could have done. A teammate jokingly suggested I should travel egregiously to force a violation call.

While I agree that it is a stretch to invoke III.G, it doesn't seem entirely ridiculous. After all, this was a spectacular sideline malfunction. The tape is supposed to be secured flush to the ground as a marker; disentangling oneself from a sideline aid is not supposed to be part of the game. Interestingly, since IX.A definitively says that the perimeter lines are not part of the playing field, one might argue that the tape constitutes an "object within five metres of the playing field," even though it necessarily defines the bounds of the field.

A note to TDs: please secure your Port-a-fields to the ground. Gawd, I hate those things.

"While I agree that it is a stretch to invoke III.G, it doesn't seem entirely ridiculous."

I think it's entirely ridiculous to invoke III.G. It's exactly as ridiculous as running into the
endzone to catch a pass near the sideline, tripping over the corner cone, missing the bid (back
IB), and calling III.G so your team gets the disc back.

The time to correct the field is not during the point. It's the same field for both teams, it's a
perfectly fair playing field that both captains have agreed to use.

Chalk it up to bad luck and lack of field awareness. Accept the -1 fantasy point and move on.

I think I would agree with you on the matter of tripping over the cone and missing the catch, but only because rule III.E specifically requires cones for the field; it appears to be a standardized hazard one should expect.

But we do sometimes correct the field during a point. Throwers often kick a cone out of the way to avoid tripping on it, and sideline spectators will typically move it back into place immediately after. If we spot an unrecognized hazard on the field (shards of glass, e.g.) we expect to invoke either III or VI.D to clear them. And players will call for a time-out (VI.D) for a rock disc if an especially bad pothole is found.

It may be the same playing field for both teams, but it's not necessarily unfair for both teams to be allowed to excuse themselves from hazards on that field.

And if you want to focus on the rules some more, you'll notice that III.G refers to [items]
"within five meters of the playing field." This would exclude the playing field itself, of which
cones and lines are a part. In other words, here's another vote for "tough luck."

Granted, you may justifiably consider the tape to be part of the playing field. Alternatively, under IX.A, you may consider the tape to be "the perimeter line" and therefore not part of the playing field.

Either way, I don't see why the tape would necessarily be excluded from III.G based on the five-metre clause. It's not explicit.
The playing field is well within five metres of itself.

After all, if you suppose an obstruction is left inside the playing field, it is also still within five metres of the playing field.

"I think I would agree with you on the matter of tripping over the cone and missing the catch,
but only because rule III.E specifically requires cones for the field; it appears to be a
standardized hazard one should expect."

The analogy is valid. Check out III.D, marked lines are an expected part of the field. Whether
you slip on some white chalk, or trip over a portafield tape, the line's the line. Any argument
that marked lines are not a 'standardized hazard that one should expect' is spurious at best
(especially when you know what type of lines are on the field!).

As to potholes, glass, etc. Those are corrected when they're noticed. In the case of a pothole,
you can't decide to call pick or other some such nonsense in the middle of a point, when that
pothole has been there the whole game (season?).

I agree that players often move a field cone, but how does that validate your position? Does
the count stop while the cone is moved? Is there a call made before it's moved? Does the
player get to make an obstruction call if they don't move the cone? No, moving the cone is
merely case of a smart player using their field awareness and adjusting to the limits of the
field they're playing on.

Sort of what you could have done, but didn't... :)

I looked at III.D earlier, but it appears to be just a guideline rule. I'll explain my meaning.

III.E says that the corners of the playing field "ARE" marked by bright, flexible cones. There is no choice about that.

III.D says that "lines SHOULD be marked." It doesn't say how they should be marked, or even that they must be marked. Markedly unlike III.E, it doesn't say that in ultimate, lines are marked with tripping hazards, to be facetious.

Likewise, III.D also says that the field "should be essentially flat, free from obstructions. . . ." So I would think that if you should mark the lines, they should also not be obstructions.

Even though (in the above example) I agreed to play on a field marked with tape, the implied consent was that the tape would be secure and flush to the ground. Is it an unreasonable expectation? I don't think the sidelines should obstruct play.

Should the player adjust to the sideline? Maybe, inasmuch as he can try not to trip. But it still seems like capricious luck.

My point about moving cones is just that we do condone adjusting field conditions on the fly-- that it's not taboo.

From "the inside"... I can tell you that the wording in III.G certainly wasn't intended for port-a-fields or cones. The intent was to give throwers and cutters a way to not be disadvantaged by other non-players who crowd the sidelines. Before this rule, there wasn't anything written that a thrower pivoting at the line could fall back on to get the count to stop and get people the heck out of the way.

Tripping on a port-a-field is about as far away from that logic as it can be.

What's your point?

That tripping over the corner cone is bad luck, but tripping over the sideline tape is unavoidable
because you couldn't have known that you'd trip over it (because you couldn't have expected the
sideline tape to be on the field you're looking at)?

Maybe that's not your point...

What's your point?

My point is that the cone may be an obstruction, but it's required by the rules, so you have to live with it. (III.E)

But you don't have to mark lines with a potential obstruction (III.D). So if the provided line-markers do happen to obstruct play at some point, it seems reasonable to call an obstruction stoppage.

Anyhow, the consensus on this board seems to be that III.G doesn't apply, for various reasons.

Friends in Ottawa suggested that one could call a technical time-out (VI.D) instead.

Any opinions on that option?

I'd say that a line is not a dangerous condition unless it's made of an inherently dangerous
material (in which case why was it used in the first place?) and thus does qualify as a reason to
invoke VI.D. It's possible that the line is tripped over (apparently) but it's also possible to trip
over your other foot, a slight rise in the ground, or the marker disc over a sprinkler head. Just
because a trip is possible doesn't constitute danger.

I agree. Given the low priority untied shoelaces (VI.D.2) get, I don't think you can justify interrupting play for a slightly raised sideline tape.

Then there's the comic twist to the requirement that the "condition" must "endanger other players."

"Hey, that sideline I just tripped over-- yeah, it's endangering you. Look out."