Amtgard Rules of Play.

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Honor in Jugging
[03/01/2006] [Calidran]

Amtgard’s combat system, like many other live-action games, is an honor system. The crux of the system is a group of players who are willing to not only properly take shots, but who are willing to trust other players to do the same. If the majority of players stopped taking their shots, the system would break down and the game – all games of Amtgard’s ilk – would fail. That’s why players who slough are generally either coached out of that habit or beat off of the field, and are generally disliked by other Amtgarders.

So why doesn’t that happen in jugging?

Jugging is one of the most intense parts of our game. It is the primary form of “spectator sport” within Amtgard, and it is as competitive – if not moreso – than any other form of tournament. Jugging’s pace is faster than virtually any other part of Amtgard, the hits are harder, and the competition is fiercer. Are these attributes, however, a valid excuse for sloughing?

It seems that’s the way it has become. Juggers Amtgard-wide have become accustomed to rampant sloughing in jugging matches. This has led to many places attempting to step up their reeving of jugging, but reeves can only do so much. Most jugging fields have, at most, 4 reeves on the field attempting to reeve fighting between 10 players as well as paying attention to an active circle, a skull that kills on contact, sidelines that stun, and possible scores. Even with line reeves to handle stuns, the odds are simply not in a reeve’s favor when trying to adjudicate a jugging match.

The players, on the other hand, have shifted the onus of sloughing during jugging off of the offending player, and somehow it has landed squarely on the shoulders of the reeves. This is where the problem lies. In order for Amtgard as a whole to function, the players of the game have to be honorable about taking their shots properly. The onus of following the rules lies on the player in every other part of the game, and reeves are merely there to adjudicate rules disputes and the occasional misstep.

On the jugging field, however, somehow the blame is now in the reeving. If a jugging match goes south and degenerates into sloughing, the players only partially blame the other team, but instead focus on the fact that “the reeve didn’t call it”. Then, when the reeves are regularly calling shots, the players get angry at the reeves for calling some shots that may not have landed. It’s a lose-lose situation for the reeves, and very dangerous precedent for the players.

This trend has continued to the point where an “if the reeve doesn’t see it, I don’t need to take it” mentality is becoming commonplace. Not only have juggers accepted sloughing as the status quo, so much of the blame for sloughing has been placed on the reeves that even the most honorable of players are starting to – even possibly unconsciously – play based on “what they can get away with” rather than what is considered cheating.

Many people, over the years, have blamed the rampant sloughing on a jugging field on “adrenaline”, “intensity” or “the heat of the moment”. That, frankly, is a ridiculously fallacious argument. Blaming sloughing on adrenaline does nothing but give players an excuse to cheat – a way out if they decide not to take their shots. If a player cannot maintain their head and follow the most basic rules of our game while playing our favorite spectator sport, then they shouldn’t step onto a jugging field. Period.

And occasional missed shot is completely different from rampant sloughing. When it becomes so commonplace as to be accepted and rationalized by players the game-wide, then obviously it is no longer simply an “occasional” missed shot because of the “intensity” of the game. Rationalizing sloughing in any way – especially using the “heat of the moment” argument – is a serious problem in a game where an honor system is the basic foundation upon which the game is built. It is not acceptable for a football player to facemask another, even in the heat of the moment. It happens occasionally, which is why there are referees, but it is not something that is so accepted as to become a widespread problem in football. So, why is it different with our spectator sport? It shouldn’t be.

Plain and simple: if you can’t take your shots, you shouldn’t play Amtgard. If you can’t take your shots on the jugging field, you most definitely shouldn’t jug. If the opposing team isn’t taking their hits, don’t blame the reeves – it’s not the reeves’ fault. A reeve can only see so much, and it takes a lot of balls to call shots on juggers. If a player sloughs a shot, the blame rests squarely and solely on the shoulders of that player. It is each individual’s responsibility to play by the rules, regardless of what they’re doing within that framework.

Jugging may be its own pastime, but it’s still part of the greater Amtgard, and thus subject to its rules. In short, take your hits, don’t make excuses, and leave the reeves alone.

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