I am a roller derby announcer. An important part of my job is to explain the rules of roller derby to the fans.

The rules of modern roller derby are promulgated by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, and are broken into section, sub-section, and sub-sub-section (and further?) by number, just like a civil code.

For instance, from section two ("Game Parameters"), subsection four ("Jams"): - If the Jammer is not on the track when the jam starting whistle blows, the Jammer will not be permitted to join the jam in progress. No penalty will be issued.

If I wanted to write this, I would write "Section", per my reading of this helpful StackExchange question about "section" and "subsection".

However, if I wanted to say this out loud, thundering it from the podium while banging my fist, what is the most pedantically correct way to do it? Is there anything after subsection, like "Paragraph"? Would it be correct to say "According to section two, subsection four, paragraph four, item one point one?" -- or something similar?

I have often wondered how this works in city ordnances as well -- is there a "formal" language used when drilling all the way down, much as we say "Chapter and Verse"? Or does this rabbit hole only go as deep as "subsection"?

TL;DR: How would Tackleberry refer to numbered rules?

UPDATE: some more googling on this leads to the Wikipedia description of how the United States Code is ordered: Title > Chapter > Part > Section > Paragraph > Clause. So if roller-derby rules were ordered the same way as the US Code, I could conceivably say something like "Part two, section four, paragraph four, clause one, subclause one of the WFTDA rules clearly states." However, I think this particular structure only applies to the US Code, and this is not a sort-of generic legal-document structure. ...Or is it? Is this how the drill-down usually goes when you're trying to be, you know... legalistic?

  • 2
    +1 for "thundering it from the podium while banging my fist."
    – Frantisek
    Feb 22, 2012 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


Since every paragraph of the WFTDA rulebook is helpfully numbered, you can simply say:

Tikaro is frothing at the mouth and banging his fist on the podium.


Section two point four point four point one POINT one CLEARLY STATES...

If, on the other hand, the rulebook was formatted like this:

2.4.4 - If all skaters are not on the track and ready to start the next jam after the allotted time, the jam will start without the missing skater(s) and the team will skate short for that jam. If skaters are not in position on their start whistle they will be subject to false start penalties (see Section 6.13.5 and Section 6.13.16).

1) Jammers are considered in position and ready if they are in bounds when the first whistle of the jam (i.e., the whistle to start the pack rolling) is blown. Jammers are subject to false start penalties if they are not on or behind the Jammer line at the Jammer start whistle (see Section 6.13.5 for specific penalty details). Jammers are permitted to put on their helmet covers after the jam has started. However, each Jammer must have her helmet cover in hand before the jam starting whistle. A helmet cover cannot enter a jam in progress.

a) If the Jammer is not on the track when the jam starting whistle blows, the Jammer will not be permitted to join the jam in progress. No penalty will be issued.

Then you would have to read it this way:


Section two point four point four, paragraph one, SUBsection A CLEARLY STATES...


In this particular case: it appears that the "deepest" that the rules go is five, e.g. - Whistle, hand signal and vocally call out all major penalties.

The "9" is explicitly referred to as a "section", but the other parts aren't given explicit names other than their regular meanings. Sounds like you're free to call it what you want as long as you're consistent and unambiguous, e.g:

"The WFTDA Rules of May 26, 2010, Section nine, subsection two, paragraph five, clause two, item one clearly state: (Referees will) whistle, hand signal and vocally call out all major penalties!"

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