Friday, February 16, 2007

My Turn - Part IV of IV - Spirit of the Ref

I agree, spirit really is good sportsmanship. The difference in Ultimate is that at the highest level we still have a game that is self-officiated based on good sportsmanship. Many are arguing that the future of the sport is in refs, and spirit is minor.

I don't have much to say on this topic. Referees mean people try not to get caught for infractions. That would result in a huge change in the sport. I prefer a high-level self-officiated game as opposed to be hit in the kidneys by some jackass who thinks he's in the NHL and doesn't realize we both have to work the next day.

Picture Above: More Snowplate 2006 (of a friend of mine Shawn Chua) from Arthur's photosite.

If we bring in refs, then I think we need to bring in fighting too. Having an enforcer always solves cheap attacks on your star player(s). Plus fighting will bridge us closer to the other "Ultimate".

How we solve the cheating problem at the top level without refs? I don't know. I have some ideas along the lines of kangaroo courts, but I haven't thought out these ideas. I don't really think cheating is really a major problem.

Over the last few posts, I gave my perspective on some recent discussions started by the UPA. Many of the comments and discussions over the last four part post have been interesting. It's obvious that we're dealing with a grey topic that people feel strongly about on both sides (even that simplification is poor). Personally, my plan is to adapt while trying to maintain and offer people a perspective of Ultimate that I've always enjoyed. If we all do this, how bad can things turn out.



Anonymous said...

Clearly, SOTG means more to Ultimate than self-officiating, which takes place in every sport when kids are picking up in the park. The trick is to make sure that we all hold on to that spirit as Ultimate continues to grow. Most people probably aren't a big fan of refs in any situation, but if the sport is to grow and become more mainstream (which some are not big proponents for), I think there will need to be officiating as a major part of it.

I do think the UPA's Observer system is engineered quite well, and as the sport evolves, so will the concept of Observing and officiating. It is important to keep bringing up these concerns so that we all can have a say in Ultimate's development.

Your quote: "Many are arguing that the future of the sport is in refs, and spirit is minor" may be true to some people, but if the future of Ultimate does turn out to include refs, I don't necessarily think spirit has to be minor. I think we should always keep spirit first and foremost in the game.

- Baer

ulticritic said...

You seem to be saying that good sportsmanship cant exist within the confines of a refereed sport.....which is complete nonsence. And in reality you DONT have a "self officiated" sport....what you have is a "cross-team officiation" system. Now if you were to see players making objective violation calls (namely travels) on their own teammates then i could see it being called "self officiated", and you might be able to justify such high claims of having such a pious sport. Which makes me wonder, why is it that you dont EVER see somone making a travel call on their own teammate??? Isnt that somthing that you would/should be obligated to do under the presepts of the sotg clause. Now you might say... "my opponent usually calls it first"....which would be a complete cop out to me. To me the real grey area of ultimates, so called, self officiation process lies between objectivity and partiality.

Ref = dont get caught???? Another illusion propegated by the spirit zealots. What refs truley = is an enforcment of the rules with a balanced system of risks and consequences (and please dont use soccers' arbitration system as an example) thru impartial mediation. It not only levels the playing field (because the ref crew is made up of one team...not two) but it also adds the dynamics that allow for continuity to exist within the game other words, makes it spectator friendly.

Fighting already occurs in ultimate. Granted most of them are word fights (arguments, and sometimes very ugly ones....which should not be tolerated any more than fist fights...but for some reason are) but i have seen a handfull of physical fights in my day too. As for cheating, there will always be actions percieved as cheating with or without refs. I think that comes down to a question of standards but, again, refs arent there just to prevent cheating. They are there to bring continuity to competition through a system of impartial,3rd party judgement and game management.

How bad can things turn out???? No fans, no sponsors, no class A athleats.......i'd say as bad as they are now.

ulticritic said...

hey anonymous....what is it you are getting at that sotg intails. To me it means practicing good sportsmanship. You seem to be implying that good sportsmanship is more valid when applied to ultimate than when used by kids playing any other pickup (non-reffed) sports in the park. And why would you assume that most people dont appreciate the ref facilitation.....either when playing or spectating, especially since the sport of ultimate has shown us the results (inconsistant and partial bail-out calls, little to no consequence for violating the rules, long stoppages of play for over dramatic well as polite disagreements) of not having that facilitation. Of course when ultimate becomes more mainstream it will need refs but the thing is it needs em now (and always has needed em) for the same reasons....which has nothing to do with money....its just a part of sport and competition that the people that play ultimate have been too lazy or cheap to incorporate. Sure, its veiled by dogmatic motivations but when you get down to it the truth is that its just too much effort to deal with.

The upa's observer system......well since it is only used in probably 1% (at best) of ultimate games played, its understanably weak. The observers dont get enouph practice, there are still little to no consequences for violating the rules (intentionally OR unintentionally), they arent used to their full potential (they should be stalling the disc and making active up/down calls), they dont have any hand signals for what calls were made on the field or what the result is, refinements to the system are not made on a consistant enough basis and when used they are still reffered to, on most occasions, only after exessive debating....bring on the IRS (immediate refferal system).

See now that thing about keeping spirit first is just sooo ambiguous. What does that mean??? because there is nothing clear about what sotg even means. and surley it means different things to different people so why even push it. What you should pushing are the stategic dynamics, the endless horizontal bids, the throwing skills of the top handlers and the areodynamics of the disc.

Tom said...

Wow, people really get worked up about this.

As ultimate becomes bigger and there's more at stake, one way of maintaining the self-officiated nature of the sport while preventing players who don't respect that from taking advantage of it would be a system similar to technical fouls in the NBA or cards in soccer. For blatantly bad calls or bad behaviour, you might give a warning, two warnings and you're off for the game. Get too many warnings in a tournament and you have to sit out a full game. Get even more and you're out for the tournament. For UPA events, you could even suspend players for tournaments (if you're too much of a punk at sectionals and regionals, you can't go to nats).

The reason I like such a system is that the rules of ultimate are based on the assumption that no one would deliberately cheat, so there's really no penalty for making bad calls or deliberately fouling someone. Most players will respect that and not abuse it, but if someone does, there needs to be a good system in place for keeping them in line.

ulticritic said...

One can respect self offication yet still think that its archaic. And why would you want to try and emulate soccers arbatration system when everyon who complains about refs and the unspirited play that exists with refs usually refferences soccer. Now if you want to use b-ball as a comparison understand that there are deterants in the form of personal fouls and foul outs to help maintain a equitable risk/consequence dynamic for general play, not for behavior, that seem to be very effective in producing an standardized system that promotes fair play (sotg). If you bypass or eliminate that dynamic (as you seem to be suggesting) you basically have a system equal to a soccer card system.....which is both arbitrary and caprecious.....and has too few arbitrators.

well tom, you know what they say about assuming. As far as dilerbratly cheating.....lets examine the most black and white, easy to follow rule in ultimate.....OFFSIDES. People have been breaking this rule from the time ultimate started to present day. Now if someone crosses the goal line prior to the pull it has to be deliberate....I mean either that or everyone that does it is just really, really stupid....or disrespectful and abusive....take your pick. Now when you see such mass violations of the easiest rule in ultimate to understand and follow you have to wonder just how honor, sotg and player responsiblity can work without an impartial and objective enforcer preasent to insure that all players adhere to ALL the rules that are set forth and are expected to follow under your fantasy sotg system.

The point that you, and so many others fail to grasp, as you cling to your perverted arbitration system, is that a foul or violation in sport needs to be penalized (not givin a second chance) wheather deliberate or not (with obvious intentional fouls resulting in harsher penalties). It can be argued that if someone hacks you on the throw he/she dileberatly didnt practice enough self control to avoid contact.

And the "good system" you speak of that needs to be put in place does not need to occur simply because one may abuse the present honor system in the way another might interpret it to be. That good system (one that is controled by active, 3rd party arbitration.....that right, refs)is needed simply because not everyone is gonna see eye to eye on where the line is between respect and abuse. Now while this is why, at the core of sports and cometition, refs are used in virtually every other sport in the world there are still a myriad of other reasons that said facilitation has proven to be a positive and constructive enhancement. You just got to lay off the koolaid to see it.

Anonymous said...

Ulticritic - Your points are well taken. I didn't actually mean that sportsmanship is more valid in Ultimate than anywhere else: I think it is always important. However, I think SOTG means more than sportsmanship and self-officiating; it also honors the very nature of the sport, from its grassroots history and outsider status, but you are right, it means something different to everyone, and I realize now that my definition is still very vague and arbitrary.

I don't disagree with your statements on refs. I think they are needed now as well, but that concept will also encounter heavy resistance from many, many players. I was thinking more in terms of an evolutionary development of the sport over time: expand (and improve) the observer system now, gradually get into refs (or else give observers more say).

I was talking to another group this weekend about how SOTG can tend to be an emotional subject for some, and it is impossible to clearly define, which is evident just in these posts here. In short, I think SOTG is very important, but the fact that it is difficult to define and promote, and probably impossible to enforce, validates ulticritic's point about not pushing it so much. But I still think we should try.

- Baer