Saturday, June 21, 2008

(editor's note: Toad posted nearly indecipherable comments addressing Former College Champ. I went archeologist on it and reconstructed from the fragmented bits of English what message I could. Again, Toad, if you can keep it civil I welcome your comments and voice.)

It’s not that “ultimate players are balancing fairness, it’s that ‘people’ (in general) are. We as Ultimate players are not special; we are the same as normal people. We are normal people. The anti-ref stance is dogmatic idealism with goals that are too lofty and don’t belong within a competitive sport.

Referees’ interest in performing well in order to keep his job or get promoted is what leads to them calling a good, efficient, clean, accurate, and fair game. Their interest in self-preservation (job-wise) ensures their objectivity. Their objectivity will lend the game an integrity that will come in the form of game management and presentation.

What you’re arguing is that the presence of refs will lead to what I call a Claim of Diminished value, where your perception of the other team cheating somehow makes their victory hollow and tainted. But as far as the root of competition and desire, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat can all be achieved in sports that use refs to facilitate rule enforcement.

And for your example of ‘doing the right thing’ and withholding a call in a big game, there are plenty of counter examples of bad calls being made when the stakes are equally high (see Steve Dugan’s confession of game-changing cheating in semis of Worlds). Understand that there is nothing that equates watching the “international competition with the self” via a self-officiated sport with good sports entertainment. There’s a reason this internal challenge doesn’t exist in televised sports. By your own admission refs will definitely make the game more “watchable, fast-paced, and like other sports.” Why is this a bad thing?

I also don’t buy the “focus on not getting caught” with refs. The focus of the athletes is on strategy and execution. How different is this mentality of “not getting caught” in refereed sports with the constant intentional bumping of a thrower, the fast counts, the double teams, the traveling that’s prevalent in the game today? Have referees enforce stricter deterrents against that type of cheating and I guarantee player focus will be on not committing the infraction in the first place.

And while I commend you on your no-call in the heat of the moment, you’re the exeption. The point isn’t to look at what people “should do”, but rather on what they will do, are capable of doing, and what they’re already doing *now*.

Your concern that Ultimate is heading towards mediocrity is laughable in light of the fact it’s not even mediocre yet from a presentation and commercial level. Your vision for rule enforcement is simply too idealistic, considering Ultimate is a sport and not a priesthood. It’s great that you can compete within the system, but the fact is others can’t, most haven’t gotten there yet, and others who have will falter and backslide. Your vision is too unrealistic an expectation and it isn’t fair to the sport for these unattainable dogmas to influence things on the “field of competition.” You would like everyone to keep themselves honest and not cheat but, after all, isn’t what entails (or is perceived as) cheating also subjective?

Referees are the way to go. The dynamic of them “breaking the pact” when the game gets heated is a non-issue. Their pact is with their crew to call a good and consistent game, nothing more or less. You say, "the inequity of the other team is no reason to throw out the notion of fair play." Agreed but, neither is the presence of referees. Point is, if people cheat with refs and use a "not get caught" tactic, dosen’t that say as much or more about that person than your idealistic notion of how Ultimate should be played now? I think the fact that those against referees think Ultimate players will “turn” overnight really says more about the kind of people they are, and the kind of people they think each other to be.


Handy said...

That's the first time I've ever read "Toad's" writing and been able to see a coherent argument. It was like having someone translate it from another dialect...

I even agree with some of the points. Wow.

I don't know who to give kudos... I think I owe it to you, Hector.


BrettyBrett said...

refering to this - > see Steve Dugan’s confession of game-changing cheating in semis of Worlds

Is when the Condors represented the US in Finland in '04? And if so, what did he say?

They were playing the Australian Dingos in the semifinals, and have watched a video and seen some questionable play, but curious what dugan is speaking of.

Sam TH said...

Did anyone else watch the NBA finals? I felt that was a pretty powerful argument against refs.

Mike said...

Your argument seems to say that you personally don't want refs in Ultimate because you weren't happy with the refs in the NBA. So for consistency within your statement, are you also saying that you would prefer the NBA without refs?

How did the refs make you think that having them was bad for the overall results? Is it because 'your team' lost? Did the better team(s) in general lose because of them? Do you really believe the NBA games be more fair/watchable/better if there were no refs?

Anonymous said... you need a translater everywhere you go in life?

brett......steve called a marker foul on a japan player at tie game, game point on a hammer throw in which there was contact after the release. The japan player argued that point but steve kept his call, got the disc back and won the game. I think he then went on to try and disect his own karmha by implying that things evened out for him when he a dropped an easy goal at a crucial time in the finals that might have caused them to lose. To bad that dont do shit for the japan player that was cheated due to a partialy motivated call.

sam.....listen to mike

mike.....thank you

Anonymous said...

oh yea.....brett. the bogus call was in the worlds semis and the drop was in the worlds finals. Dont know which year.....just get your hands on the documentary and see for yourself.

Sam TH said...

No, I wasn't suggesting that refs be removed from the NBA. Since I don't play basketball, that would be a bit presumptuous of me. Also, my team won.

What I was suggesting that the NBA demonstrates that refs don't solve and of the problems that Toad is talking about - there's still cheating, there's still blown calls, there's still arguing about the calls, there's still endless discussion afterwards about whether the refs got it right. So hoping refs are going to solve these problems seems foolish.

Twatson said...

I don't think many of the points that have been made make a good case for referees in our sport.

I also don’t buy the “focus on not getting caught” with refs. The focus of the athletes is on strategy and execution. How different is this mentality of “not getting caught” in refereed sports with the constant intentional bumping of a thrower, the fast counts, the double teams, the traveling that’s prevalent in the game today? Have referees enforce stricter deterrents against that type of cheating and I guarantee player focus will be on not committing the infraction in the first place."

If you see soccer in some European countries you will come to find that this is not the case. Being able to draw a foul and 'beat the ref' is considered an actual skill and a part of the game, which is a terrible outcome.

Also, if I the ref has to call every touch and bump, then how will this speed up the game if there are an extra dozen stoppages? I think you cannot offer a guarantee on this.

The 'constant intentional bumping of a thrower, the fast counts, the double teams, the traveling' that is huge at the elite level is obviously a problem but unfortunately I don't think that refs will fundamentally change this. Its a cultural problem and its up to team leadership to enforce it. Adding a referee would be a logistically Herculean task to achieve anywhere in the world but perhaps the top level in America. And if its so difficult, its not worth it.

I'm happy with at most tinkering with observers and their roll in the 0.5% of ultimate games where it is both cost-effective and important enough.

dusty.rhodes said...

i would like to see the nba without refs. absolutely. where do i sign up?

michelle said...

Go to any high quality pick up basketball and imagine the NBA without refs. Some of the most painful games in the world occur there with all the bickering. And often they don't start calling really questionable calls until the game gets close and you may end up losing the court.

Nutmeg said...

Instituting referees, assuming it is achievable (I don't believe it is), would also lessen the animosity between teams. I love that everything Ultimate entails is within the competing teams, ideally between the 7v7 currently on the field. Taking away the players right to call the game and giving it to an 'objective' official would alleviate the added tension resulting from historically poor/tacky calls. At least in ultimate at the end of they day you can only hate on your opponent, not some poor referee. Personally, and I know I'm not speaking for myself, I love the added tension. Historic cheating builds animosity, we all love to see the inner psyche revealed on the field. Drama.

Though I've only had one higher level college and club season, I've never had an overwhelming feeling that cheating ever won/lost us a game. I get the impression other people feel the same. Your execution, skill, and strategy are always the deciding factors. I do feel that cheating/poor spirit shouldn't be allowed to fester forever in Ultimate. I think PMF's and TMF's are a step in the right direction. Though something tells me (maybe other sporting experience) cheating is the athletic influenza; it will be there every year no matter what annual injection we give our beloved Ultimate community.

Instituting refs will take the players right to control the demeanor of the game away. As Hector put it, if you get bumped early making a cut it's a formal agreement that a few arms may get twisted. I don't want to have to feel out a referee, is bumping okay? (shit whistle). In soccer and hockey you have to feel out referees and hope they'd be consistent as the game went on. Not to mention Ultimate would be very difficult to ref, large field plenty of opportunities for minute infractions. I believe cheating would shift to away from the disc interaction as with hockey/soccer. Players would take out their anger on a lingering cutter, lots of grabbing hacking eventually proceeded by bitching at the referee for missing the hacks. I love ultimate and if I'm remotely similar to my pre-ultimate sporting self, I hate referees.

Anonymous said...

"I also don’t buy the 'focus on not getting caught' with refs. The focus of the athletes is on strategy and execution."

In college, if we go all the way back to Junior's post, strategy=focusing on not getting caught. With or without refs or observers or what have you, the game (especially at the Open College level, but elsewhere also) has become about warping the rules to one's own advantage, and going as far as you can without getting called out.

El Manicero said...

First of all, unless people start paying way more for dues and what not, refs are not cost effective so it is kind of a mute point. Second, I think something that could go a long way in solving some of the cheating is the blogosphere. And reputations. It all ready happens in that people get a good reputation as sportsmen and others get called out for cheating. Players get reputations and that leads to folks, even teammates checking each other. You bloggers out there, call people out, fans, call people out, and don't let people get away with cheating without hearing about it. Especially now that more and more big, high level tournaments are filmed, there is evidence for all to see. I know it isn't perfect but I think it helps. Just something that people haven't mentioned that I thought could spark some more conversation.


El Manicero said...

whoops. I am tired. I meant moot not mute. hee.