Monday, May 14, 2012

Stopping the Clock

Recently, at a Regional Competition at the conclusion of the Relay, the apparent winner fell down while attempting to yank the dummy over the finish line. The ensuing, emotionally-charged protest suggested that not everyone reads the rules. We’re torn between providing a detailed pre-competition briefing and getting the show launched as most Competitors seem to stay current. For the rookies, too much information is like trying to drink from a fire hose.

Two years ago, after observing the unsafe manner with which Competitors were hurling themselves across the finish line, the Rules Committee wrote the narrative below. Note that the official rules are posted on the Firefighter Combat Challenge website:

Time stops when the competitor and mannequin completely crosses the finish line. It is the responsibility of the competitor to drag the heels of the mannequin over the finish line. If the heels of the dummy do not make contact with the finish line (i.e. - the competitor lunges), a stopwatch time will be used, and a two second penalty will be assessed. If there is a mechanical problem with the clock, there is no penalty. The Course Marshal, at his sole discretion, may stop any competitor who in the official's opinion creates or is in a dangerous, unsafe or stressful condition. Spiking the dummy at anytime will result in disqualification. Spiking is defined as any elbow movement other than extension while releasing the dummy.

In addition to the potential for personal injury when falling or failing to control one’s movement (i.e., losing one’s balance or lunging), the damage to the sponsor’s SCBA equipment is unsustainable. Also, the carpets and crash pads are subjected to unnecessary destruction. 

Over the years as a part of the Pre-Competition Briefing, I have repeatedly made the point that one does not improve their time by lunging. Lunging is not unlike sliding into First Base. The effect of this rule change was immediately evident. Damage to the equipment and rug stopped. Competitors were finishing under control, thereby validating the necessity of this change in the rules. Another benefit is the fact that there is no longer any ambiguity about who won the race. 

Now the clocks tell the entire story; i.e., the first team to stop the clock in a very close race, absent penalties, is the winner. The two second penalty is fair and there have been no incidents associated with close finishes. Even if and when the clock is not showing the elapsed time, the computer is still working- perhaps giving rise to the impression that the clock is not running. Note: the displays over the finish line are NOT the clock(s). All timing data are continued in our Algae system. 

All competitors are responsible for reviewing the current rules. By executing the Waiver Form, you attest to the fact that you have read the rules and are conversant with all aspects of the competition; 

The activities involved in the Challenge have been fully explained to me. I understand them and represent to the administrators of the Challenge that I am physically fit to perform such vigorous and strenuous activities without any threat to my health or safety. I fully realize the dangers of participating in the Challenge and fully assume the dangers and risks, whether obvious or latent, associated with such participation. I also agree to participate in accordance with the rules and judgments of the umpires and understand that referees decisions in all matters are final.

No comments: