Friday, April 29, 2005

more on fair play

The Europeans disappoint me sometimes (yeah, I'm looking at you, Count.) The Swedes feel that banning Observers would improve the game. One comment that I particularly disagree with is because it destroys the credibility of our concept of ”spirit of the game”.The rule with observers actually means that we no longer believe in the idea that the players themselves can handle situations


Now, I'm not quite sure that I agree with Gerics' classification of Observers as "keepers of the spirit", but they sure as hell aren't destroyers of it.

In one sense, having them is like locking your front door: it helps honest people stay honest, but it doesn't deter professional criminals. I like to think that people obey the rules because the rules themselves are good and you ought to behave well, but if a little fear of penalty keeps them honest, well, I can live with that, and can even pretend that it's still basic honesty that is doing it.

Where the Europeans get this wrong is in the apparent belief that everything's a judgment call to be made only by the player(s) involved in the call (on my more right-wing days, I'd blame the left for their cowardly "moral relativism", but it's not one of those days, so 97% of you don't have to roll your eyes). I can still remember a game at Worlds in 1996 against Belgium or Holland where one of their players landed clear as day on the line, directly in front of half a dozen teammates. If this happened to an "unspirited" US team, there is no doubt in my mind that the team would call him out (maybe not every player, but enough to make it happen). But all our pleadings did to this European team was to make them avoid our eyes even more and to keep their mouths even tighter.

The player who landed out may have truly believed himself to be in, but what kind of a moral system is it if he is unable to ask people with better perspectives what they say? Americans place much more emphasis (rightly, of course (little smiley face)) on getting the call right, rather than worrying about hurting the bad caller's feelings or respecting his autonomy or whatever the hell they're thinking.

And then there's the matter of how to deal with the 1% of the player who truly can't handle himself. Yes, he exists, no matter how much peer pressure you exert. Why not allow a system that contains this player (who creates 25% of the problems) while simultaneously allowing the 99% of players to develop and show their true character?

Next: the crowd.

3 comments:

Idris said...

Probably just trying to keep the playing field semi level. Some of the biggest dicks I've played against were Euro's @ WFDF events (mostly various scandanavian club teams). W/ no observer to counter their BS, it was their way or the high way. With observers there to keep them in check, part of their competitive advantage would be lost.

parinella said...

Yep. And the Japanese (women more than the men) suddenly developed problems with their English when forced to explain their calls before the 30 second argument cap sent the disc back to the thrower.

The concept of "it's my call" is not a distinctly European one, as you'll also see it in the lower levels of the American game.

In the finals of Worlds in 1996 against Sweden, we tried to request Observers at halftime because we felt there were some egregious ("real, real bad") calls.

See also my rsd post of August 6, 1995, titled "Spirit of the Game: American vs European"

luke said...

i just don't think refs are that big a deal. really. it's a natural evolution, and frankly, most athletes don't sit around planning ways to cheat. except for john stockton. but in general, players... play. that's the ultimate beauty of sport for me at least... work, train, practice plan... for the opportunity to live, right in the moment, and do something cool.

don't you think that being in 'the zone' and 'cheating' are to some extent, mutually exclusive? obviously the answer is 'no' for that 1%, but I can't think like that. i'm no saint, but i think most players would NOT fundamentally change their game with refs...

re: sven and ole,
idris, your posting, it is not so fair, in our country, we post hard, but fair. and i think you are doing the ze BS. and jim, i think that you are drinking too much of the iron city before making the posts. and you both have good (whisper whisper) html, but you are bringing down the frisbee spirit.

but we got a gift for you anyway, yankee dogs.

here is a can of some kind of european tobbacco product mixed with goat shit.