Friday, December 25, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rules Knowledge Advantage

If your rules knowledge is not particularly high, you may need a copy of the rules nearby as you read this. I really like this electronic version as it allows me to Ctr+F anything. Bookmark it.

What do you think Ultimate Blogosphere, is it "unspirited" or prohibited in some way to gain an advantage through your better knowledge and understanding of our sport's rules?

This has been on my mind for a while and I have discussed it with many people, including other Observers, and there are varying opinions and lots of "it depends". I can think of many situations where my question applies - in my mind all of these have some of the same fundamental features but I have had mixed reactions from the same person to presented scenarios I see as equivalent. I don't advocate some of these, some of them seem wrong, some of them feel OK, but I am not sure why. What makes a situation innocent or seedy?

Here are some of the things I have in mind:

- ---------When a defender is unaware of the state of the disc and thus their right to check the disc. If they are honestly under the impression that they get to check a bricked-pull at the brickmark, is it wrong to put it in play without their acknowledgement?

------------ If a defender is under the false impression that a player may not change speed when walking the disc to the line (a popular misconception in San Diego until I started doing it intentionally in practice), is it wrong to trick them with a walk and then run when they aren't looking?

- ----------Drawing a marking foul when I have the disc at stall 7? Decide on the meaning of "drawing" yourself.

- -----------In an observed game I tell my team beforehand exactly when it is beneficial to go to the observer and when the risk/reward is not in our favor. I tell them to never call "strip" and always "foul" (*bonus points to the commenter who knows why). Is this advantage that comes with my Observer experience unfair? Do I have a moral obligation to tell the other team these things?

-----------Not putting a live disc into play for a while as I wait for my cutters to get open so I can put it into play and throw to them at stall1. What qualifies as "reasonably necessary"? Throwers call plays all the time before putting a disc into play.

-----------What do you think of the fact that I use the actual wording of the rules in discussions of fouls? It doesn't sound off, but I believe I might have a better than average success in arguments if I use phrases like "Contact resulting from adjacent opposing players simultaneously vying for the same unoccupied position, is not in itself a foul"

- ---------I have never ever seen the procedure after a contested or uncontested stall performed correctly. Here is the procedure proscribed by the rules:
If the thrower has not released the disc at the first utterance of the word ten, it is a turnover. The marker loudly announces stall and play stops. A stall is not a violation and rule XVI.C does not apply.
  1. The marker calling the stall takes possession of the disc where the stall occurred and then may either:
    1. place the disc on the ground and after acknowledgment by the defense, touch the disc and loudly announce in play or
    2. retain possession and have the former thrower restart play with a check.
Now, ever stall I have ever seen ends with the thrower dropping the disc and play continuing as if the disc was live the whole time. Often the marker will sprint toward the endzone and a teammate will pickup the disc and throw it to him. Is it unspirited to call violation when my team gets stalled and then is on the receiving end of this aforementioned play which is almost universally accepted? How about me NOT calling violation if my team BENEFITS from a quick stall-to-breakaway huck- score even though I recognize the disc is dead as soon as "stall" is called?

----------The seemingly most shitty one: if a thrower loudly says "time out!" but clearly does not make a "T" with his hand and the disc and puts the disc on the ground would me enforcing a turnover be acceptable? How about if it was 13-14 in the finals of a tournament with a $50,000 prize for first. Rules are rules, right?

----------And my personal favorite, philosophically: while waiting at the spot the disc is to be put into play at(my team just turned it on an OB huck), may I not check a disc presented to me because the ONLY way the rules allow a live disc to be put into play is a ground-tap (II.R)? The confused thrower might start faking (the disc is not in play yet so I do not count stalls), and he might throw the disc. If he does, I stop play with a violation call because he threw a disc that wasn't in play. (If the throw is incomplete its a turn because a live disc is subject to turnovers; if the throw is complete, it comes back). Is it Unsportsmanlike to apply the rules so thoroughly ?

I can see how me even thinking about this could make me seem like a dick but I promise you I really don't want to be a dick about rules. The timeout situation seems completely abhorrent but the change-change-of speed one doesn't. I am philosophically interested in why. I actually like thinking about our rule set as a philosophical question.

I would never WANT to win because of rules disagreement, but I am actually kind of offended by the poor rules knowledge of my competition (and even players at the highest level). From my current point of view, we are the referees of our sport and referees should know the rules. Period.

I would really like you to comment on these situations with your thoughts about rightness and wrongness. As you think about them, here are a few select passages from the rules that make it a little more complicated:

Spirit of the Game: Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.

Captain’s Clause: A game may be played under any variation of the rules agreed upon by the captains of the teams involved. In tournament play, variations are subject to approval by the event organizer.

  1. If an infraction is committed and not called, the player committing the infraction should inform the infracted player or team of the infraction.
  2. It is the responsibility of all players to avoid any delay when starting, restarting, or continuing play. This includes standing over the disc or taking more time than reasonably necessary to put the disc into play.
  3. If a novice player commits an infraction out of sincere ignorance of the rules, it should be common practice to stop play and explain the infraction.
  4. In addition to the assumption that players will not intentionally violate the rules, players are similarly expected to make every effort to avoid violating them

So I am left with this: I assume loosing because an opponent knew the rules better hurts one's basic joy of play, but I also assume that being criticized for trying to play the game by its rules hurts one's basic joy of play. What are we to do? Please leave a comment.

"This isn't 'Nam, this is Ultimate, there are rules"

First Practice

My team's cuts get sent out today and we finally get to practice with the team that will be competing to represent UCSD across the country and in the UPA series. No longer will the team's focus be mainly teaching rookies the game, we will be about forming and training a group of players to complete our goal of qualifying for (and placing well at) Nationals in May. No longer is a focus error or a silly mistake O.K. - do it once and you get admonished and then you never do it again. No longer do the vets have to smile and be supportive when a 15 yard forhand is turfed. Finally I can really ENJOY Ultimate for the COMPEDITIVE side of it.

Here is what I am thinking about saying tonight:

"Congratulations, you've made the first round of cuts but know that no one here, myself inlcuded, has earned a spot on the final roster - were nowhere close to that. You should know that this is A team and you may have picked up a lot of misconceptions playing with everyone through the Fall. Yeah, people joke around a lot and yeah, most of the vets don't take the Fall as seriously, but that ends right now. The commitment level goes way up and the dedication level goes way up. This is a tough team to be on - the hard work starts right now. If you had any inclination that this was going to be easy or that you were ok or could just cruse because you knew something about frisbee or because you are a decent athlete then you need to get that out of your head right now. We are going to be much better at disc skills and athleticism and team cohesion and we need you to get on board right now: being a top 20 team in the nation last year doesn't mean much for this year. Ultimate is really fun, this team is really fun, but you need step up your intensity right now if you want to be on the team in the Spring."

Boy am I excited. I know that I have lots of studying to do for my midterm tomorrow and I have a paper due as well, but I am having a hard time putting the joys of A team's first practice out of my mind.