View topic - Clarification - Positioning and Incidental Contact

Clarification - Positioning and Incidental Contact

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Clarification - Positioning and Incidental Contact

Postby jam9 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:57 am

I've had this come up multiple times both as a defender and on offense and after many discussions I could go for some clarification:

A disc is thrown to into the endzone, Bob is on offense and Jack is defending him. Bob is sprinting towards the endzone to make a catch with Jack trailing him.

Bob slows down trying to anticipate where the disc will land. Jack is trying to track down the disc and anticipates that the disc will land farther into the endzone than where Bob has begun to slow down. In this instance, Jack is looking skyward watching the disc and runs into the back of Bob. Bob calls a foul.

So here's what I think I know about the rules as they apply:

Bob has position on the disc - I don't think Jack can barrel him over from behind - Jack basically has to make the decision to slow down with Bob and jump for the disc from there - or to run around Bob and take an advanced position on the disc himself.

Bob can't make any lateral movements to box Jack out (ie, Bob can move how he wants as long as he can make a legitimate argument that he was moving towards the disc - but any movement he makes that is made solely to prevent Jack from getting to the disc is an obstruction and a foul - which would negate a catch by Bob).

So, in the instance described above, I think it would be a foul on Defender Jack - but I myself, and other people who I've seen in Jack's situation, have made the argument that they are allowed to progress towards the disc, and that the contact occuring between them and an opponent in getting to the disc is merely incidental.

Also, does the impact of the collision, or the result of it, have any impact on the rule? Is there a difference between a slight bump and an impact that knocks a person over?
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Postby atanarjuat » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:34 pm

Yes, the impact/result of the collision affects the exercise of the rule; it is arguably the very crux of the rule. Running into Bob is not by itself a foul. Running into Bob is a general foul only if it affects Bob's continued play. Moreover (and more to the point, I think), running into Bob is a "receiving foul" only if it affects Bob's attempt to make a play on the disc (XVI.H.3.b).

Thus, for example, a bump with time to recover is incidental contact. Having trouble jumping just because Jack is very close is incidental contact. But having Bob's take-off thrown off-kilter by a transfer of momentum, or forcibly aborted are definite receiving fouls.

Jack has no sacred right to advance anywhere on the field already occupied (XVII.A). Jack can jostle past Bob if need be to get where he wants to go (XVI.H.2), but he should be careful, because affecting Bob's attempt on the disc in the process will earn him a foul call.

Bob is entitled to move in any manner he sees fit (toward, away, sideways) in preparing his attempt on the disc. As long as he has at least some ADDITIONAL purpose other than solely blocking his opponent, almost any manner of positioning is fine (XVI.H.3.c.1). Yes, that includes lateral movements with respect to the disc, because there is no reason to believe that the only legitimate preparations for an attempt on the disc are purely toward the disc. Preserving space in front of your body for a two-step approach, for example, is perfectly fine.

Granted, lateral movements are often more suspicious and may tempt Jack into making foul calls, but they are not litmus tests for blocking fouls. The burden of proof is higher than that -- the sum of Bob's movements and behaviour should suggest beyond a reasonable doubt that Bob solely intended to block Jack.
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