Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tournament 14 - Lesson 1 - Observers, the new parent

UPA Regionals came to a conclusion in all divisions over the weekend. I've always loved the energy a regionals or sectionals has in comparison to average tournaments. I'm one of the fortunate ones to be heading to Florida to participate in the big show.

With a quick look around RSD you can view various rants on field quality, cheaters, bad tournament formats, Canadians and their lack of historical knowledge, and cleaning cleats in a hotel pool. That makes for an unproductive Tuesday morning, and I'll continue with my own rant.

For both our finals against Boston and the 2/3 game against PoNY, we had observers during the games. I've argued before that observers should let the flow of the game go and leave the power trip out of observing (envision the mad dash onto the field to call a glorious offside). The four observers we had this weekend were excellent in this regard and let the play go. Sure, one of them made a minor error on not calling an automatic offside, but after a short talk with him we acknowledged the error and let it go.

No, my rant is not with the observers, but it's with many of the players and their use of the observers. Essentially, the observer was no longer an observer, he was a referee/parent. Infraction discussions were essentially eliminated (or kept very brief) and both players would rapidly go to the observer for a call like young kids constantly calling on Mom or Dad to deal with a situation.

It just doesn't seem right. I think we should default to the rules and deal with the game as if no observer were there. When a game goes on without observers, in many cases, the ruling goes to the offensive team maintaining possession and the disc goes back and play is reset. Over a game the good calls and bad calls tend to balance, and the crowd can enjoy some good arguments. This is the game I like.

And what about using the observer to call the infraction. I've been a basketball referee for many years, and I've watched a range of sports and yelled at the TV for all sorts of infractions. I consider myself to have a good eye when it comes to picking out an infraction. If I was an observer and someone was throwing what should I watch for? The details of the release and potential foul or the movement of the pivot foot? Can I view both with my peripheral? What about listening for the count, the pick, and other calls?

In other words, I think we play a that is fuzzy in terms of infractions and is best left for self officiating. We've created a set of rules that deal with this fuzziness and allow for the play to be reset. The rules and game work pretty well together favouring the offense and leading team in some cases. Introducing the parent/observer attempts to have clear decisive rulings just doesn't seem to work. I found the number of bad calls made by observers to match or be even greater than if we didn't have them.

The observer is great for keeping the tempo of the game, watching for boundaries, keeping track of the details like time and score, and giving a watchful and deterring eye over the game. Their presence seems necessary to some degree, but as a sport we should train the participants on how to use them to maintain the flow of the game.



LewisD said...

Pete, I couldn't agree more. We had no option regarding observers in our two games Sunday. Against DoG we agreed to try not to use them for any on field calls. Game moved along well, despite a very hard played physical first half.

Against NY, it completely slowed the game down. More calls, but they took ages to resolve once the observers were called. Maybe it was the observers that we had.

I think they are great for line calls on side and endzone, offsides, timeouts etc. But the 30 second guideline that we had at CUC worked much more effectively at moving games along.


dusty.rhodes said...

The one thing I disagree with is:

"When a game goes on without observers, in many cases, the ruling goes to the offensive team maintaining possession and the disc goes back and play is reset."

I can't stand this.

The play happened. The result is A or B. Ultimate chooses, for some reason, neither. This is like getting a True or False question and answering "Potato."

*Resolve* the conflict rather than *ignore* the conflict!

Mortakai said...

The 30 second guideline used for CUC is similar to what's taught in current UPA Observer training. That is, when the discussion goes on without resolution "in a timely manner" (wording from the 11th edition), the Observer should step in to tell the players to resolve it right away or they'll make the call for them. And in practice, this should be roughly 20-seconds or so... there's not really much that'll be said beyond that that'll sway the other player if they're not already convinced. So send it back or come to the Observer.

And for those players that immediately come to the observer without ANY discussion at all... the Observer should bounce it right back to the player(s) to at least attempt to resolve it themselves first. And of course then step in if it's not resolved in a timely manner.

It's still a player's game with player resolution, with Observers there primarily to help keep the game moving smoothly. Letting the players argue on-an-on doesn't do that. Neither does the Observer taking way too long to make the call or not stepping into the discussion/argument when they should.


... looking forward to Observing the games at this weekend's CUUC in Vancouver.