Monday, April 27, 2009

This shit has been bothering me since the last club season, but it seems like people have either forgotten how to resolve a contested foul, or for the newer players, they were never taught how. It's unconscionable that with games observed this weekend at Central Regionals, there were still contested calls that seemed to have opening and closing arguments, with ample witnesses called to testify on both sides and cross examination before finally resolving it. Fucking brutal, whether the Hodags were doing it or any other team. Let's go over the quick, fair, efficient way of dealing with a contested call so that in the future we can spend less time with lip service and more time playing.

Step 1: A call has been made. Foul. Travel. Whatever. Dude yells out the infraction, and play stops (eventually). Elapsed time: 1s

Step 2: "Contest!" (or in the case of a dude on Luther, "FUCKING CONTEST!" It's ok to show initial disagreement, but you might only be hurting your chances). Elapsed time: 5-10s

Stp 3: Now, in all the calls I've ever witnessed (not all, but the exceptions are statistically insignificant) both parties will know within the first 30 seconds if the other is even thinking of taking their call back. You know this within thirty seconds, and even that is a generous amount of time. So, pause to assess. Take your time, as much as 20 seconds even, if you think they're unsure of their call. For those of you who, in Step 2, bitched at all, skip this step. You've already blown your chances to get the call taken back. In these 20 seconds state your case for why you called the foul, or why you're contesting. State your case clearly, and state it only once. Elapsed time: 30-45s

During this time the observers will be approaching you either knowing how they'd rule, knowing they can't rule, or making sure their ruling agrees with the each other's. They either saw what happened, and have an opinion about it, or they didn't see what happened. If it's the latter, the rules are clear: send it back and do it over. No amount of showmanship, acting, yelling, or legal proceedings here will create a different outcome: we just get to watch you make a fool of yourself bending over backwards to hear yourself talk. You're not interested in actually changing the play because you assessed, correctly so, at the beginning of Step 3, that neither party was backing down.

Step 4a: You both agree to disagree, and leave it at that. Foul: contest. Send it back, do it over, and tap the disc in.

Step 4b: This is where the observing this weekend was, excuse the pun JThib, sub-par. Once two players have gone to the observers, the observers should, if necessary, ask to clarify what infraction is being called. Not how it happened, not a request to recreate it, just make sure you're about to rule on the correct call. It should go something like this:

"Are you coming to me?"
"What call are you making?" (note: only if unclear. This is clear ~90% of the time)
"He fouled me as I tried to catch it."
"No foul, play on." Boom. Elapsed time: <99s

See how easy that is? See how two people disagreed, and the observers did what they're supposed to do, which is to cut down the arguing time and either rule or send it back?

They're not supposed to sit there and spectate thespian theatrics. They're not supposed to ask leading questions that might sqeeze another two minutes out of the argument. They're supposed to go in there, have the players defer to them, and judge instantly. Boom, game on again.

If the players are taking more than 60-90s in Step 3, the observer steps in and asks them to either agree right then, ask for his ruling, or send it back. After the observer has done this, the game should be back on within 15s. It's not too much to ask, is it?

Play on.

p.s. Regarding the two disagreed calls this weekend that I felt Thib blew: I don't think he made those calls to either punish Wisco or to help Luther and CUT. I feel he made both calls as he thought they should go. He just made two mistakes. The call in the Luther game was one where his angle on the play made him see something that, when viewed from the front, wasn't actually happening. He choose to rule anyway, and i disagreed with his perspective on it. The second was a case of whether the disc was catchable based on all the player movements, and whether Kanner was going to be anywhere near the disc. Again, I thought he blew the call, but based on how utterly stupid and n00b-like Drews approached that whole scenario, I can't blame him for allowing that amateur case influence his decision to rule in CUT's favor. I was on the sidelines wishing I could gag Drews instantly.


Chris Kosednar said...

agreed, it's too bad (for you) drews fouled kanner. Had drews not fouled Kanner it seemed as though Foster might have caught it cleanly.

The argument that observers speed up the game is BOGUS. Show me some sort of empirical evidence.

In an unobserved game, it is easy for both parties to recognize that the call is unresolvable so instead of bitching, the disc goes back. When you throw an observer into the mix, the players now have a stage to voice there opinions and win over the observer who is supposedly willing to overturn/uphold a call.

So, you call foul, I say no, no observers, end of discussion disc goes back

you call foul, I say no, knowing we have observers we gradually formulate our arguments then observers arrive and we go into intimate detail trying to woo the orange shirt.

Anonymous said...

Actually, a player who is trying to "convince" an observer to side with him is wasting his breath. Any trained observer already knows what he saw when the play occured and will not be swayed by the arguments of a player. The reason an observer allows the player to speak his piece before ruling is to make sure he (the observer) understands exactly why the foul is being called and why the opponent is contesting. This is to ensure that the observer is making his ruling based on what the player's call is, rather than forcing an independent third-party decision upon the players. The goal here, of course, is to keep the game in the hands of the players as much as possible.

I do think you have a very valid point though that the presence of an observer can slow a game down just as often as it can speed it up.

Hh said...


I know the argument that observers speed up the game is bogus. However, that's not because the premise is bogus, but because neither players nor most observers correctly deal with it. Observers, IMO, are supposed to rule on the call or send it back, and if arguing between players continues, cut it off and make them decide what they're doing.

If you're a 'trained' observer, you either know what happened on the play, or you know you'll send it back. After about 90 seconds the whole thing should be resolved.

Alex Peters said...

Can we all just agree that physical re-enactments of fouls and violations should be banned? I'm probably guilty of this in the past but really, people need to cut this shit out.

Anonymous said...

Not that the NFL Replay system is perfect nor should it be replicated, but maybe there's a principle in limiting how many times a given team can go to an observer. It would make players (and their teammates advising them), to not frivolously go to the observer. So, e.g.-each team gets 2 per half, 1 per game added back for an upheld call.

Doesn't solve the thespian problem, but might drive teams faster to the "agree to disagree" conclusion.

Remember, most teams until nationals, play less than 10% of their games with observers, so they haven't always thought through when and how to use observers properly.

Anonymous said...


_dusty_ said...

If you limit the number of observer referrals at X, then the defense just needs to make X+1 bad calls and there's nothing the offense can do from then on.

More meaningful games will have more close calls, and more valid contests. Not everyone is cheating for contesting, or going to an observer. Sometimes there is an honest difference in opinion.

Anonymous said...

so settle your "honest differences of opinions" in a quicker and more efficient manner.

personally, i cant see how having refzervers present ADDS to downtime, but if that IS the case then i dont see any other logical option BUT to incorporate the IRS.

what are the arguments as to why the IRS isnt used already again????? I thought upa data revealed that it was THE most popular rule tweek at solstice????

Anonymous said...

i also wanted to point out that when you have an administration (who are in charge of how and when observers are SUPPOSED to interject) that support and champion a pro "conflict resolution process" campaign THEN exessive downtime is sure to be the result.

So, to solve this problem one has to get to the root of the matter. Who is it that enables the observers to enable the players to "voice opinions"(which result in exessive downtime)? surley not those of us that are proponents of the IRS, right?

The problem is within the process, and the process needs to be streamlined. Thing is though, the upa admin has no intrest in seeing this process streamlined.

My take is that if there is enough of a "time allowance" that its more likely that a player might just take back a call, thus providing evidence that sotg is alive and well which in turn justifies the spirit centric approach to rule enforcement and game management. Its a vicious cycle.

So the problem isnt with the observers.....the problem is with the structure and process that the observers must operate under. So find out whos in charge of that process and start thats where ya start with figuring out a solution.

Anonymous said...

Above poster has the right of it - partially. Observers are instructed to allow, encourage even, the players a moment to attempt to work out the call amongst themselves before intervening. However, this is not merely a relic of sotg as he suggests. One of the major philosophical reasons behind it is to keep, as much as possible, the game in the hands of the players. It is the players choice to call a foul, a players choice to contest, and the players choice whether to send the disc back or go the observer.

An additional reason for the length of time it can take for an observer to make a ruling is the fact that they are instructed to let the players explain exactly WHY they are calling a foul and exactly WHY they are contesting. This is to make sure the observer rules on what is actually being called, rather than making an independent judgement on the play as a whole.

Breathing said...

That sounds like a beautiful system. Simple, empowering, and democratic.
Why do so many have beef with it? From the stats the UPA collected, it sounds like most actually support that model of a light touch.

Anonymous said...

I thought most ultimate players like it rough and bumpy, as opposed to the light touch

Anonymous said...

what is the "conflict resolution process" a "relic" of, if not sotg? And why such urgancy to "keep it in the hands of the players"? I'd say its to preserve sotg, wouldnt you? And it may be "the observers choice" to send the disc back but how fast he does so IS NOT his choice. That process policy come straight from upa headquarters. so how am i only partially right?

Point is, this so called "reasoning" youve offered IS THE PROBLEM (of the subject here anyways). In sports with refs, there is a philosphy amongst those refs which is: to evoke "stopped time effiecency". For ultimate, stopped time efficiency is trumped by the "conflict resolution process". AND this is all in hopes (spirit zealot hopes) that an individual will see the error in their way and "take back" the call, thus justifying the process and reenforcing their insane beliefs that partial opponents can peacfully exist simultainously as impartial judges.

its really basic stupidity at worst and naive idealism at best.