Friday, April 15, 2005

fan interference

How about that play with Gary Sheffield in the Sox/Yankees game last night? There was a hit into the corner, and while Sheffield is picking up the ball, a drunken fan reaches out and takes a swipe at him. What was great was that Sheffield pushed the guy back, THEN threw the ball back in. He probably would have torn the guy a new one, but he said he thought about Ron Artest being suspended for the rest of the season, so he held back.

Ultimate has a real problem with fan interference at many big tournaments, even Nationals (although in recent years the UPA has done a lot better about patrolling this). Fans and players just crowd the line, making it difficult to throw longer passes that way. (I'm going to start something again with the NUA's Ed about how he probably thinks it would be a great strategy to force line and have your sideline players stand next to the thrower.) And then there are all the tents and metal chairs and coolers. At Fools this year, there were big metal/wooden benches in the 3 yard space between fields. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

My old teammate Cork has at least twice "reprimanded" fans for interfering with play at Nationals. In 1989 Nationals, a floater down the line struck a big-lens professional camera and Cork started yelling at the guy. I don't remember the circumstances of the game, as I was with the bestest little team ever, Earth Atomizer. In 1997 Nationals, in a game important to qualifying for semis, we beat Double Happiness by 2. Someone threw me a leading pass in the end zone. I had to get on my horse to catch up to it, then had to lay out for it, so I was focusing only on the disc, but as I'm reaching for it, I'm overwhelmed by a sea of bubbles out of nowhere. Startled, I don't catch the disc. I get up to see a bunch of Bay Area women sitting there giggling, playing with little kid bubble blowers. Cork goes up to them and smacks the blowers out of their hands. They thought it was funny. If any of you interferers are reading this and would like to apologize, I am willing to forgive and put it behind me. I have a vague memory of a tight call that game that went against Double, but can't remember what it was or I thought it was a bad call. Anyone remember that either?

Golf has occasional problems with fan interference, but generally it is to the player's advantage when the fans get in the way of speeding balls and stop them from getting into more trouble. But then you have those idiots screaming "Get in the hole!", or people yakking on cell phones, or photographers snapping pictures while players are in their backswings or downswings (P.G. Wodehouse wrote of a golfer who was distracted by the sound of butterflies flitting in an adjacent meadow). Now, before you scoff about how football players have to deal with 80 000 screaming fans, it's different because what is startling is the level of noise above the background or the change in the noise level. If somehow everyone stopped screaming at the same time, I bet a quarterback would throw the ball over the receiver's head from the surprise.

Some are more temperamentally-prone to this distraction than others, and I don't think it's just a case of being morally stronger if it doesn't bother you, any more than not needing glasses is a sign of strong character.

I think the best/worst case of fan interference was in the surprisingly hilarious movie "Happy Gilmour", when Happy was in the process of winning something like the US Open when a fan ran him over with an automobile on the fairway during the round.


Jon said...

This came up on R.S.D. awhile back, and CVH mentioned to me that rule III.G. made it a legit violation if there was stuff within 5 meters of the playing field. According to my teammates, my most memorable play of last season was at central regionals. I had just received an up-line pass and was about to huck to our wide open deep, but the opposing team was crowding the sideline. I screamed "vio-LAY-shun" so loud, they swear games on either side of us stopped play.

dix said...

There was a play in the Easterns finals in 88 or 89 where a Windy City guy (I think it was Ron, who later played for NY) laid it out for a disc near the sideline. There was a girl sitting there with her back to the field. His face hit the back of her head and he came up a bloody mess.

Marshall said...

Overhanging trees and such can be pretty funny at low-stress tournaments. We had a fun "anything off that tree is good" game one year at Jazz Fest, where "that tree" overhung the field by 10 feet or so only 15 feet up. But at a lot of tournaments, there's a dangerous ratio between sideline space and the amount of stuff (bags, chairs, tents) cluttering it up. Don't ask Tom Matthews about the pull he didn't catch because of a chair on the sidelines at Clambake one year. Truthfully, we probably should'a given that one back to him...

parinella said...

rule III.G. made it a legit violation if there was stuff within 5 meters of the playing field.

This is true, but the rules also state that it is a grave violation if you intentionally foul someone. Why not just combine the two "strategies"?

Besides, here is the rule:
"An additional restraining line is established at least five meters from the perimeter lines surrounding the field. Spectators and
gear must remain behind this line to ensure the perimeter is safe and clear during play."

It just says "spectators and gear", and it seems to imply that the restriction applies on the plane of the field. So, have your players stand on the line and say "Just call it" when warned. Then, when the tournament directors force them to stand 5 m back, have each player pull out a giant foam finger hand (these will have to be specially made to extend that far) and intimdiate the thrower. Cite "it ain't in da rulez" when questioned, then say that it's the point of contact that matters, not where the arms are.

parinella said...

Not that I was there, but a semifinal at Nationals in 1986 was interrupted for 30 minutes (!) near the end of the game for an argument about whether a high pass hit a tree.

At Turkey Swamp one year, a big bending pull hit a tree about 15 yards out of bounds, although it most likely would have come back inbounds. Lyin' Josh Faust maintained that he had some connection to the rules committee and that the intent was that the disc be played where it would have come back in, rather than where it went OB. Since it was Turkey Swamp, we gave in, knowing that six years later I'd have a chance to write about it.

Jon said...

It just says "spectators and gear", and it seems to imply that the restriction applies on the plane of the field. So, have your players stand on the line and say "Just call it" when warned.

I'd debate that the vertical space above the "safe and clear" area is also intended to be vacant.. In all seriousness, "players" who aren't in the game at the moment are considered spectators per II.J:

"Player: A player is any of the up to fourteen (14) persons who are actually participating in the game at any one time."

But I'm not sure if you were disputing that.