Mel Brooks, writer and director of Broadway and movie hits was quoted as saying, “As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're going to be dizzy and we're going to make mistakes.” Such a fitting statement when it comes to officiating.
Of course, no official professes to be infallible. We all read commentaries by the print media and listen to remarks openly critical of rulings made by game officials; some deservedly so. Regardless of the ever present “instant replay” and “slow mo” officials still get it right about 99 percent of the time. Successful officials are not hesitant about admitting they make mistakes. Just ask Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce, who called a runner safe – who should have been out – spoiling the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history for Detroit Pitcher Armando Galarraga. Joyce later admitted blowing the call after watching the replay. Most importantly, the good officials know when and how to correct them.
Wrestling officials diligently study their rule and case books, work previews, attend state interpretation and local association meetings for the sake of being in the right place, at the right time, to make the right call. And then it happens: an official incorrectly position the wrestlers following an out-of-bounds situation. Or, perhaps, the official discovers in the third period that a two-point near fall was recorded instead of the three points that was signaled back in the first period. What’s correctable, what isn’t? What’s the procedure? Rule 6-6 addresses these questions.
First, Rule 6-6 breaks errors into three basic elements: bad time, timekeeping errors and scoring errors. Each has its own conditions that must be kept in mind when tackling correctable errors.
Bad Time (Rule 5-1, 6-6-1, 6-6-2) is either…
1. Time wrestled with the wrestlers in the wrong position; or,
2. The wrong wrestler given choice at the start of the third period; or
3. *The wrong wrestler given choice at the start of the second 30-second tiebreaker; or
4. *The wrong wrestler given choice at the start of the ultimate tiebreaker; or
5. **The choice of position not given after the second injury time out; or
6. The clock continues to run at the end of the period, or,
7. The clock continues to run following a violation.
*Added for the 2014-2015 season.
**Added for the 2013-2014 season.
Other than the start of the third period, when encountering bad time, officials must first evaluate whether the amount of bad time can be determined. If not, it would be deleted. Otherwise, it must be re-wrestled prior to the start of any subsequent period.
Two other situations exist leading to bad time. Those include the wrong wrestler being given choice:
At the start of the second period or at the start of the first 30-second tiebreaker in overtime.
Rule 6.6.1 makes it clear on resolving this situation: the opponent may be given choice at the start of the third period or at the start of the second 30-second tiebreaker in overtime. NO REWRESTLING IS NECESSARY.
Following the second injury time out.
Here, if the amount of bad time can be determined, it must either be deleted or re-wrestled prior to the start of any subsequent period, the wrestlers are to be placed in their proper position and wrestling resumed without delay.
All points earned during bad time are cancelled.
Keep in mind that any penalties (technical violations), or injury time that may have occurred during bad time are also canceled except (here’s where Rule 5-1-3 throws a curve ball at you) flagrant misconduct, unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness, illegal holds/maneuvers, and blood time.
Gets a little complicated, doesn’t it? Try this acronym to determine what stays in the scorebook: “RIBFUN”.
Roughness (as in unnecessary roughness)
It’s also considered bad time when starting the wrestlers in the wrong position at the start of the third period. You’d stop the match and give both wrestlers a one-minute rest. Except for “RIBFUN”, all points earned are cancelled and the entire third period re-wrestled.
Timekeeping errors occur when either:
1. The timekeeper makes an error; or,
2. The clock fails to start when you indicate time is to begin.
Officials must make a judgment concerning the amount of time that should have been consumed. Certainly, it’s within the official’s authority to consult with the timekeeper, or even the coaches, to get their perspectives on the matter. Ultimately, however, the decision is his or hers as to the amount of time that needs to be adjusted.
As in bad time, timekeeping errors must be adjusted prior to the start of any subsequent period.
Scoring errors can be made by the official or the scorer and can impact either the match or team score. Their correction depends entirely on whether they occur in a dual meet or tournament, and whether it is a recordable or computational error. To appreciate the various remedies afforded under Rule 6-6-4a and b, let’s first distinguish a recordable error from a computational error.
A recordable error is one in which the correct points and/or designated scoring symbol was erroneously entered on the scorebook or bout sheet.
A computational error is when a wrestler’s or team’s score is incorrectly added together.
The correction process is handled differently depending on whether it is encountered in a dual meet or tournament.
Dual meet match scoring errors by official, timekeeper, or official scorer:
A recordable error necessitating additional wrestling must be corrected prior to the offended contestant leaving the mat area (Mat Area: Rule 2-1-5: the wrestling mat plus 10 feet). If additional wrestling is not necessary, the error may be corrected if the offended contestant or coach remains in the mat area.
A computational error must be corrected within 30 minutes after the conclusion of the dual meet. If the error requires additional wrestling, i.e. if a tie requires the match to go into overtime, the error must then be corrected prior to the start of the next match.
Tournament match scoring errors:
A recordable error must be corrected prior to the offended wrestler leaving the mat area if additional wrestling is necessary (Mat Area: Rule 2-1-5: the wrestling mat plus 10 feet). Otherwise, when additional wrestling is NOT necessary, the offended wrestler or coach must remain in the mat area.
A computational error must be corrected prior to the next match in which either wrestler competes. Again, if additional wrestling is necessary, it must be corrected prior to the offended wrestler leaving the mat area.
Dual meet or tournament team scoring errors:
Recordable or computational errors must be corrected within 30 minutes after the conclusion of the dual meet or tournament.
Obviously, errors create stressful situations for all concerned and could easily turn a competitive match/event into a major distraction. Avoiding errors is every official’s goal. But when they do occur, and given a thorough understanding of Rule 6-6, officials can approach such situations, equipped to act quickly and decisively to return everyone’s focus back to the action.
Gary Berkowitz is a longtime wrestling official in Ohio and Illinois. He served as secretary of the North Central Ohio Wrestling Officials Association for 13 and was inducted into the Ohio Wrestling Officials Association Hall of Fame in 2003.