Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Colin probably understates the number when he says, "you will always be able to call travel on any throw of significance and due to the normal motion of a thrower’s body, be technically correct at least 20% of the time." I think the number is at least 50%, from all the college ultimate I watched this year.
Then he says making the call if you weren't going to point-block the throw is the same as "forfeiting the competitive respect between teams." Is it? Since when is calling a travel when it's a travel bad? Why not put the onus on the throwers to be more controlled?
Thing is, a lot of people equate making calls with bad spirit. There are certainly bad calls out there, I saw plenty of 'em this year with no spirit in'em. But I think the problem is not so much in the calls themselves, but the inconsistencies in call-making as a game gets tighter and the outcome dicier.
A great aspect of self-officiation is that both teams, at the start of games, feel themselves out to see how tightly the game will be called. Elite Club has for the last several years adopted more of a 'let's play' mentality; we play physical and aggressive D and allow it on ourselves, despite the fact D like that would be instant fouls in summer league or college ultimate. I've had times when I get heavy body as I make a dump cut; there's a moment of contact where I think to myself "ok, let's play it this heavy." I'll even talk about it occasionally during a stoppage of play with my defender, and we nod our heads.
If a team makes close calls early, the other will follow suit. If a team lets play, the other does likewise. A tacit agreement is reached between them, unspoken.
It only feels like 'cheating' when one, usually toward the end of close games, begins calling fouls and travels that both had previously 'played-on'. Were those plays still fouls or travels at the beginning of the game? Sure, by the letter of the rule. But the level of play was established early on and had been played as such until one team started fearing losing and altered the game. In the 11th edition rules I.C. it says:
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.All players, captains included, set the tone early for what the game will be like by how aggressively they play and call. The second sentence above, regarding variations being approved during tourneys, might be construed against my point until you notice that the one thing players have full, unopposed control over is foul calling.
Changing the way you make calls towards the end of games, and suddenly calling everything you see, breaks this pact, and feels like cheating to the other team. Calls now seem to be made specifically to alter the course of the game, because the team allegedly committing the violations feels as if it hasn't changed anything about their throwing or game play, but calls against them have dramatically increased. Their minds leads them to the obvious conclusion: the other squad is cheating to win. They broke the pact; it feels like betrayal.
I have no problem with anally correct calls, calling every tick-tacky foul, as long as the team is being consistent. They tire of it soon enough, because teams adjust and because it sucks, for both teams, to constantly interrupt a game. I do however take offense to those who begin to call every violation they see towards the ends of games as a tool to win. If it's not cheating, it's inconsistency and it hurts the trust between teams, crucial for self-officiation to work. Anyone who has suddenly found themselves in a callfest knows too well the slope is slippery.
But before we start writing revisionist history let's remember that the Hodags had as many calls reversed by the observer as Mamabird in this year's semifinal, and less than Florida in finals. Also remember the callfest finals '05 against Brown, that for being a double-game point championship game was unbearably boring for its last 5-7 points. That game before calls increased? Incredibly memorable. Towards the end? It felt like watching litigation on C-SPAN.
I coach my philosophy: consistency and fairness. I devote the time you'd spend teaching them to play in shitty callfests to helping them learn and play with the rules. I tell them, "before making a soft call ask yourself if you'd be livid having that called on you. Chances are if you make the call it will. " Seems pretty simple to me: know the rules and call 'em straight. Do that and you've got a pretty fun, fair, and competitive game on your hands. Isn't that better than winning and feeling cheap any day?