Fencing Practice

There’s a rule in fencing that if a fencer has a device to communicate with someone off-strip during a match, that you get a black card. I think it’s meant to apply specifically to a walkie-talkie with an earbud, but it could be interpreted to refer to a cellphone. The penalty for having such a device is a black card, or expulsion from the match.

Today in fencing practice, we were doing a team-style event, with three against three, and I was trying to judge according to as many of the relevant rules as I could. One of my team members was annoyed about the absence of another player, and called him on his cellphone only to get his voicemail. Then he was called to the strip, and he slipped the cellphone into his pocket. Of course, it then rang during his bout, when the missing fencer called him back to say that he was off-campus and wouldn’t be back until after practice. So I black carded the fencer for having an electronic communications device; I suppose I should have red-carded him in retrospect, because what came next was truly evil and/or hilarious.

Annoyed at having his teammates laughing at him, the black carded fencer slipped his phone into the back pocket of the next member of his team to fence. He then borrowed another phone to call his own phone, and disqualified his teammate. And with the help of another student, he got his phone into the back pocket of the next fencer too.

I should have black carded the lot of them for disrupting order on the strip. Instead, I just laughed and laughed and laughed. I may very well give him player of the week for that delightful diversion.

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