Wednesday, April 20, 2005


On the other hand, are we just retreading the whole foul/cheater/morality thing? Mooney said ultimate is dead, long live "uglimate" in a famous letter to the editor in 1986. It got bad enough that by 1990, a Certified Observer Program was put in place. In 1995, in kneejerk response to some shenanigans at Mid-Atlantic Regionals, a Yellow Card/Red Card system was implemented. Callahan Rules came in a few years later, with on-field Observers authorized to hand out Team Misconduct Fouls (one of my biggest regrets in ultimate is not handing out a TMF to that freakishly-blond kid from Colorado in the finals of 2001 Coll Nats; he was mugging the thrower unreservedly). NUA popped up in 1997 and (sorta) in 2005.

Maybe it's just a cycle. Or maybe it's just more widespread now, kinda like strategy and training. It's not that any team now is worse than any team from the past, just that there are more of them out there.

I think it's some of both. I first started really noticing how physical the mark had become in about 1999. I was appalled by watching a videotape of us against the Condors in that year's Nationals finals, where it was just a constant clutch and grab by a bunch of players on both teams. Certainly, some guys are worse than others, and you really develop an admiration for an opponent who _doesn't_ do that but still plays effectively.

But then again, I didn't try to break a whole lot of marks against the early 90s NY teams, so maybe it was just for lack of opportunity that I wasn't hacked to death. I remember stating that a certain player on their team had fouled me more than the rest of ultimate combined.

Now at the risk of being unpopular. This report places the blame for all of this squarely on you: The Viewers!


Idris said...


When instant messanging with my buddy Travis, I'll say "". My way of asking for clarification (before I have to go to to figure out what the hell he is saying). Today it was apocryphal.I'm not an idiot, but I don't have the best vocabulary in the world, and I'm not very well read. Sometimes I wish people could just dumb it down a little... is saying "that's bullshit" too much to ask? Or i guess I could smart myself up a little.

Spanish philosphers aside, bring on the refs! As it is, players who play at different spirit levels (lets start quantifying people's abilty to play fairly), litereally play by different sets of rules. The consequences of their play are vastly different.

If refs are too big of a leap, at least some rule assumptions should change. Currently the rules are written assuming no player would intentionally violate the rules. Concious or not, it happens... and play should not continue trying to figure out what would have happened without the infraction (the current approach of the rules). Instead, they should be written assuming everyone and their mother is a cheater. Institute measures that punsih players for illegal play. [is this Idris or Billy B.. jeeze]

Anyway, resources aside, the 1996 Labor Day tournament in Santa Cruz was a huge success (2-day, 8-team, fully refereed tournament), with many players noting thay had never been involved in such clean games. That in and of itself should say something about what refs could do.

Alex de Frondeville said...

Not sure of my ultimate position (as it were) on refs, but I'm not sure using the example of the 1996 ref'ed tourney is relevant. While initially the installation of refs would clean up the game, out of shame/embarrassment at the very least, I think that after some time, the game would adapt into one where the players attempt to get away with what they can. And this wouldn't be all players, or even most, but people that are inclined to cheat or push the envelope will find a way to so regardless of the restrictions. For now, I'm still happy that players can make their own calls. It would be nice to have some sort of foul limit, but that would engender it's own problems (drawing fouls to get somebody in trouble) until the referee system was VERY well established and referees were dependable. I am NOT impressed with the overall level of Open observers right now. While there are excellent ones, there are too many which don't know what they are doing. So for anyone that wants to end up with refs, figure out how to work the transition.

parinella said...

Oh, I'm sorry, I meant to say "Santana", as in "You've got to change your evil ways."

players who play at different spirit levels (lets start quantifying people's abilty to play fairly), litereally play by different sets of rules.
This is interesting. I agree that these players are playing by different sets of rules. But for the most part, it's in how much they're willing to violate the letter of the law, not whether they're willing to violate the letter. How much does a thrower have to travel before you'd call it? How much will you travel before you feel that you're getting an advantage? How much do you try not to travel?

I guess I'm just saying that the differences are of degrees and not whole phases.

Funny aside, my wife asked me the other day why I don't like playing competitive ultimate with women. I said, "Does the word 'misogynist' mean anything to you?" "Actually, it doesn't." "Oh. Well, it just means I prefer playing with guys."

aj said...

I wonder to what extent ultimate’s potential expansion into more competitive arenas (Olympics, NCAA) will be hindered by the lack of referees.

luke said...

i think it'll be that most people can't throw in the wind.

Idris said...

alex, great point about ref'ed tournaments only temporarily cleaning up the game, never thought about that. But I would say it would be clean because people haven't learned/thought to cheat yet, not because they felt shame :) [and damn it, i can never use that tournament as an example of how ref's could clean up the game.. but it is stil la good example for other stuff].

that said, i guess i'd rather people play ultimate like soccer, than the current system. the ability to make your own calls is nice, but at what cost?

the issue of quality refs will always be a problem until $$$ gets thrown into the mix. yes, current obvservers for the most part aren't any good. cuz all qualified people are either playing or have completely removed themselves from the game. i guesss my transtion idea would to have them for the series only. just like every other sport, they'd improve as you reach a higher level [sectionals, regionals, nationals]. other tournaments could/would be played w/o them... just like other sports are played without the use of refs at times. a spring or mid-season tournament would be the equivalent of pick-up.

though with refs calling fouls and people fouling out, i would imagine people at least on the disc and plays involving the disc would simply have to be cleanier. if basketball players played defense on a dribbling player the way we play on the mark, they'd be out of the game in no time. imagine if a marker was scared to straddle you because he knew any contact would result in him probably getting a call against him.

Idris said...

just thought of something... bad refs are going to happen, period. you can't go from zero to good refs. no sport can. i assume at the beggining of any sport, the referees had a learning curve. in many cases it was probably just their buddies making the calls.

maybe a referee draft. if your number gets called, that's it, sorry, no playing for you this year... this year... you're a ref!

treat it like being on a jury. teams [just like your boss at your work] have to support you doing it.

"brutal bro... you're a ref this weekend? and we had that team trip to Mex planned". :)

Anonymous said...

holy crap, Jim. somebody just sent me the link to this old post of yours, and I must say I feel compelled to reply.

I remember the good old college days (not really that long ago really) like they were just yesterday - the days of glorious, innumerable layout D's, of injury-free play, of complete, utter lack of knowledge of the game, of a disconcerting lack of "spirit" (if you will). And of course, of my boys, Juice and Catt, preaching the hard-mark philosophy that I must say I helped make Colorado infamous for.

Hopefully, you don't regret it too much. After all, it probably helped CUT win that game, all those "foul" "no contest" instances.

aka the freakishly blond kid
sometimes aka poor man's luke

maybe that was actually luke you're thinking of and from College Nationals in like '94.

parinella said...

Anonymous must be Skeletor. Yes, you were mugging without regret or remorse or anything like that. I don't think that the fouls helped them, because the guys couldn't even get off throws. What's odd about my omission is that I was pretty generous at handing out TMFs that tournament, and even gave one later in the game to a CUT bench jockey who was a little too adamant in his celebrations.

I have heard bad things about the Colorado coaches, and your response lends more credence to that. it sounds like it's more than just aggressive marking. The older kid with long arms that year(not Driver) was also pretty overbearing with his mark, but he may have been worse with it because he was more aggressive against guys he thought wouldn't call it.

Anyway, I saw you at Colorado Cup, I think, playing with one of the other teams, and you didn't seem so bad now. Do you feel you play a different game now?

Anonymous said...

Oh, different maybe, still aggressive, but far fewer fouls.

It's funny how little you know in college I think. I don't think Juice and Catt are bad coaches at all, and that wasn't meant to be part of my post. They did preach about hard marks (I obviously took it further than most I'd say).

I'd say the next year (my last in college), my mark was much better as I made a conscious decision to take a step back and it led to many more blocks, and a lot fewer foul calls, as it was almost impossible for me to get a clean block when I was as close as I was.


parinella said...

Ok then. You are absolved.

Anonymous said...

phew! thanks. That's all I was looking for, I couldn't have that on my conscience.