The NAFA board of directors is having an in-person meeting tomorrow, and they'll discuss what's in the following agenda: http://www.flyball.org/minutes/050810-meetingagenda.pdf
I don't know where the meeting is, I couldn't find that info in the agenda or website. But it's an in-person meeting, which is good, because a lot of work usually gets done in those.
Some of the things I found interesting:
Prohibiting balls with noise makers
I'm really glad they are talking about disallowing these. My Jack Russells, who are usually little flyball machines, completely lose their brain when they hear squeakers in the ring. I actually thought squeaky things were already illegal, based on this rule on page 12 of the NAFA rulebook:
Section 8.3 - The Heat
(g) Distractions. Team members shall not distract the opposing team by any means, nor throw any object for their dogs (i.e. balls, toys, Frisbees, dummies, gloves, or treats).
Double running of dogs
Looks like NAFA won't be making any changes to this rule, and I don't blame them. It's really just too subjective to spell out in the rulebook. I've seen dogs out there who had no business running full time on ONE team, and I've seen other dogs who could run all day on 2 teams with no problem. It does make me totally crazy to see people run their dogs into the ground in the name of points, though. This topic is probably worthy of a whole separate post, you guys probably have some strong feelings about it.
The Rules Committee is recommending a change to the Code of Ethics text in the rulebook, though, to try to address this. The bold red text is what they want to add:
Section 5.1 – Code of Ethics (page 23 of the current rulebook)
(d) Misconduct shall include, but not be limited to, abusive or foul language, demonstration of dissatisfaction with a judge’s decision, inhumane treatment of a dog, racing a dog who is not in adequate physical condition for the number of heats the dog is asked to run, demonstration of poor sportsmanship, willful violation of the rules with the intent to gain an unfair advantage, or any other behavior or altercation that would leave a spectator or exhibitor with an unfavorable opinion of Flyball.
Pay attention to this fact. There is nowhere in the whole Chapter 5 - CODE OF CONDUCT (NAFA rulebook, page 23) wording that says that NAFA, the RD, or the judge is going to take action when it comes to a Code of Ethics violation (as far as I can tell from the wording in the rulebook). It looks like it's up the to clubs to do that, by filing a formal complaint:
(f) Any individual or club in good standing with NAFA® may file a protest or prefer charges against another individual or club for alleged misconduct, in or out of the ring, prejudicial to the best interest of flyball as provided for under Section 5.2. Protests filed during competition should be done in such a manner as not to bring discredit to flyball.
This costs $100, by the way, and if the board doesn't agree with your charges, you'll forfeit that money.
So I would think somebody would have to be really obviously running a dog to death before anything would truly be done about it.
Use of shields/wings on the side of the box
This one is my personal favorite, because I submitted it. :)
Long story short, clubs have been using plastic shields on the sides of their box all over the country for a few years now, including at the NAFA CanAm tournament last year (in Regular Division 1).
My club, Carpe Pilam, used an identical shield on the side of our box at a tournament in January, and the judge told us to remove it because when one of our dogs (ahem...my dog) was bumping into it, the shield was actually extending outside the dimensions of the box. I can't remember what happened -- I think we may have lost that heat? And we were told to remove the shield for the rest of the tournament. In fact, we haven't used it ever again, because all the other judges/clubs in the region who saw that are now probably going to say "Hey, that shield was illegal last time you used it, what makes you think you can use it now?"
So I asked the board for some clarification around the wording. It didn't seem fair to me that some clubs could use it and others couldn't, just because of different judges' interpretations of the rule.
I'm glad the board chose to address the issue, but I'm not really feeling very comforted by the wording they came up with (see page 5 and 6 of the meeting agenda). It seems to me like it's still all left up to interpretation, and there are also no clear consquences spelled out -- does the judge have to see the dog bump into it each time for it to be illegal? What happens if it's bumped -- does the team lose that heat?
Hopefully the board will ask all these questions in the meeting and come up with some better wording.
This one addresses an issue near and dear to many of us. My teammate Kristie Pope wrote a guest post about this very issue back in March, about a building in our region that's too small to play flyball in.
The Rules Committee is actually unanimously recommending that the rule be changed so that the minimum runback will be increased from 29 feet to 50 feet. YES!
Farther down on the agenda was also a request to better define the word "runback", so that when a club is sanctioning a tournament, they have to put down how many feet of runback is actually MATTED (in indoor buildings or outdoors on concrete). Hooray! It's ridiculous to say you have 60' of runback when you only matted 50' of runback.
Clubs electing into adjacent regions
This issue plays out in my region, and I'm sure it plays out in others, too. There is a club that hosts one or two tournaments a year in another region (where the club owner lives), but since they elected into our region, those tournaments count for our regional points. It's an 8+ hour drive for many of us (it's actually 9 1/2 for me). Personally I don't think the out-of-region-but-technically-in-region club has bad motives, they have a good building to use up there and I've heard their tournaments are great and attract a lot of clubs from both regions. But it does suck that their tournaments count for our regional points.
Somebody from my region requested that a mileage cap be added to the rule, so that any tournament held 60+ miles over the regional border would count for the geographical region it's being held in versus that club's elected region. I really like this idea, it sounds fair to me. Several members of the Rules Committee seemed to like it, too, although it sounds like they want to increase the actual mileage from 60 miles to something more. We'll see how that plays out.
There are a few other things on the agenda, but I don't really feel strongly about them one way or the other. Feel free to post a comment if you do, or if you have comments about anything mentioned in this post.
Added on May 14:
Thanks Dave Collett for sending me a drawing of a box with shields/wings on it. Here it is. The shield we used was very thin plastic so it only added centimeters to the width of the box (but that also made it floppy and easy for the dogs to bend out if they bumped it).