I’m coming off a big weekend with the Bantam Girls team that I currently coach. We were literally inches from a berth in the Junior Provincials and though we didn’t get there, we still feel as though we won. We had a positive weekend of competitive play and great team bonding and at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to leave the biggest impression on my team. Now they’re hungry for more because they feel they can achieve that much more.
In any case, our game play isn’t really what this post is about, rather it’s the fall out from a very specific event during our last game. It was in the 8th end of a 10 end game and the score was very close, a one point game. The house was fairly messy and our team had a take out through a fairly wide port. The stone looked good coming over the hog line and just before it entered the rings our lead slipped and did a funky ballet move from her butt to keep from touching the stone, the shot, made! Or so we thought….
Immediately after the shot was made the opposing skip declared that our lead had in fact touched the running stone and that it should be replaced. Can of worms now open. First issue, the rule for that instance is clear. If a stone in motion is touched inside the hog line the non-offending team has three options. 1. Leave it alone. 2. Replace all stones as though the shot had not been thrown or 3. Adjust stones to where the non-offending team thinks they would have ended up. This rule is specific to stones touched inside the hog line. Between the hogs, the touched stone automatically and immediately is removed from play. There is obviously latitude here for the non-offending team and this is where the code of ethics crosses with the rule book. The idea is to resolve a rules violation with something that is fair.
The real issue in our case was that our lead “didn’t think” she touched it. The opposition skip was adamant that she had however. Now, it used to say in the rule book something to the effect of “if a team declares it’s own foul” however as I pour over the CCA rules of curling for 2014 to 2018 I cannot find that phrase as it might apply to a touched running stone either in the officiated or general rules. Being the ethical sports people curlers are however, I believe that in the interest of sportsmanship and fair play, you ALWAYS declare your own fouls. In our case, I believe my lead completely. She absolutely would not try to cheat and if she felt she had touched the rock I know she would have admitted it. Still, it’s possible she could have touched it without knowing. Regardless, there was definite disagreement over whether the stone had been touched or not.
The official got involved and the result (after some heated discussion between the teams) was that the play was left to stand as it had played out. My opposing coach being a fine and upstanding opponent, suggested that we call a “Fair Play” timeout at the conclusion of the end to which I heartily agreed.
The “Fair Play” timeout is somewhat mythical. Not that it’s a myth but finding it’s precise definition and application is not as easy as one might think. Some people have never even heard of this so I feel like perhaps it’s a good place to talk about it. First, it does not show up in the official rules so far as I can see. I’ve again poured over the rule book to find it and no luck. I’ve also been through the OCA rules supplement, again to no avail. If any of you out there can find a reference to it in either of these documents please enlighten me! I did find it in a copy of the CCA “Special Rules” which wasn’t easy to find itself! The Special Rules can be found at this link:
You’ll note that the Fair Play timeout is reference under the Special Rules pertaining to the Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s play specifically.
This is the only place where I find a reference to the Fair Play timeout but it has been explained to me so I’m passing on what I know. First, the idea is to have an “official” time where coaches can talk to their teams about rules violations or to diffuse a potentially negative situation before it escalates. You may not slip in any kind of strategy discussion here! Only the coach who requests the Fair Play timeout may talk to their team and this will be monitored and / or recommended by an official. It’s a chance for a coach to try to bring some level headed thinking to a team. It’s an opportunity to remind young teams of the spirit of the game and to reinforce the rules and how important it is to adhere to them. Each team is allowed a single, one minute Fair Play timeout per game.
Now think about this. A Fair Play timeout is an opportunity, yes but it’s also the result of something that has gone or is going very wrong. It’s a chance for the coach to put things back on the rails either in the spirit of sportsmanship or fairness. The Fair Play timeout is an excellent tool however, it’s a remedy for a bad situation.
In our case, both coaches asked for the Fair Play timeout to help reduce the tension on the ice and to ensure our teams played with the spirit of the game in mind. So, the result? I don’t believe there is any love lost between our teams but tensions were reduced for the rest of the game and both teams played in a sportsmanlike manner for the duration of the game. I think the Fair Play timeout worked well in our case and it was a learning opportunity for me having never gone through it myself.
Now you know, go forth with Fair Play!