Tuesday, March 18

(talk/think)ing about refs

...last night after pickup.

It started from a thought I had before pickup. The idea that everyone should have to make eye contact when they make calls and explain themselves. No, it doesn't prevent lying, but at least then you're lying to my face, you cheater.

And then the thoughts that had been bubbling beneath the surface coalesced into something with words.

Resolving calls on the field without the need for some other 3rd party to resolve things is a sign of maturity. Calm, rational discussion about something you are passionate about is a sign of maturity. Playing by the rules that you agree to play by is a sign of maturity.

Extend that thought to how we, as ultimate players, tend to model our on-field behaviour. Our on-field heroes tend to be professional athletes. Professional. You know... with literally millions of dollars at stake. They are OUR models for a game in which NOTHING is at stake. Nothing. Not a life, not a job, not a slap, not anything... I love this game and I play hard. I play to win. But I know that each victory is nothing.

If you would cheat me for something as meaningless as one play in one game of a lifetime of ultimate, what would you do for $1? $10? $100? $1000? $10000? $100000? $1000000?

I don't want the ref to bail you out.
(I want you to call the foul.)
I don't want the ref to bail you out.
(I want you to lie to me.)
I don't want the ref to bail you out.
(I want you to hear me call the foul.)

We get no money... why are you cheating?
We get no scholarships... why are you cheating?

(You gain nothing)

Take the disc away from me because you choose to cheat. I'll let you do it every time.
Take the disc back because you choose to cheat. I'll let you do it every time.
Try that throw again after a phantom foul because you choose to cheat. I'll let you do it every time.

(You gain nothing)

Call the non-existent tra
vel into me and call the fo
ul me to stop flow.

(You gain nothing,
because I give you nothing)

You cannot cheat me because you and I are not playing the same game.

I was not always this Way
(I am happier this Way)


DLK said...

dusty. well said. cheaters who stop the game just because they can kill me. those that defend themselves by arguing why it was a good call makes me even angrier.

..and that's the point where i usually lose my maturity and release a barage of profanity and guilt on them.

Jeters said...

We get no money... why are you cheating?
We get no scholarships... why are you cheating?

Those two lines are exceptional.


dusty.rhodes said...

Thanks, y'all.
That one was fun to write.

dlk: baby steps.

J said...

I love the idea(l) you've put down here, but I don't agree with all of it. Sure, I'll give you the "I don't want the ref to bail you out." argument, but aside from that, I don't think cheating is all that important to the argument of refs vs. no refs.

People who are not as mature or not as self-confident cheat whether or not there are refs around. Some have argued that, in fact, people are more likely to cheat when refs are involved (I think it's more to do with the culture of the sport in question, but that's another topic). Therefore, I'd prefer to separate the 'cheating in ultimate' discussion from the 'refs in ultimate' discussion.

I am wildly in favor of SotG and I feel bad for people who feel the need to cheat, but I'm also in favor of refereed ultimate. Not because it eliminates cheating, but because I think it will make the game more fun, both for the players and for the fans. MLU was a ton of fun for the players, and those refs had no training. In my opinion, 3rd party officiating makes the game run more smoothly and makes the confines of the rules more consistent. That allows me to focus more on what I love: playing ultimate.

That said, I _KNOW_ that refs are not always right and are not always impartial, but contrast that to two spirited players involved in a close call in the back of the end-zone in the cap in the power pools of nationals. How can you expect them to give their all to playing ultimate and, at the same time, pay attention to contact and the sideline and verticality and catchability and so on? You don't have to be un-spirited to disagree vehemently on something. You don't have to be a cheater to end up in a 10 minute discussion. And that's just no fun for the players involved, their teammates, and the 3 non-partial fans on the sidelines.

Oh, and I know you don't believe there is nothing at stake. You don't train 12 months a year, alienating all of your non-ultimate friends for nothing. You don't cry at the end of 16-15 win in the game-to-go for nothing. You don't love your teammates like brothers by the end of the season over nothing.

Sure, it's a bit more nebulous than money and the specific reason is at least slightly different for each of us, but we all love this game and we all love what it gives to us, even if we can't really explain what 'it' is.

Money is about logic and comfort. My reasons for playing this damn sport are nothing like that and they are the more powerful because of it. It's like you say, we're actively pursuing joy in our lives.

J said...

Damn. Sorry about the rant.

See what happens when I check your blog 5 minutes after a giant cup of Kona coffee and 5 hours before a flight to Paganello!

dusty.rhodes said...

Thanks for the long comment, J. Shouldn't it be in Italian?

What you seem to be saying is that there are things that even spirited players disagree about. And I agree. Specifically objective things like Stalls. IB/OB. Up/Down. Time Limits. Travels. All of those things (and more) can be carried out by refs or observers or whatever.

But I'm starting to love having the responsibility of being able to detach myself from the emotion I play the game with in a moment's time. It is a challenge, and I haven't always won (and won't always int eh future), but I love the challenge. In that challenge, there is joy.

The nothing thing is where we diverge J. The beauty of it is that all of that emotion, those tears, those hours and days and months and years of preparation and training are all over nothing at all. I feel that the reason you can't explain what "it" is is because "it" is nothing. I take joy in that. Getting all worked up like I do over something that I know is nothing brings joy to my face. Such a silly sport to play, yet so much fun. So many challenges. A trifle. A blip in the longer scheme of my life. But so very important to me.

If you'd like to see this on film, you should check out classics like Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Vanishing Point. That'll give you a sense of the feel of the thing, I think. I think it's all connected at least. Your reaction may vary, but either way, those movies are incredible.

J said...

I've never had a problem with emotional detachment (ask my family) and that's probably not good either. I think you and I are opposites in that regard. I'm trying to let out more emotion in my life after years of repressing it and you're in the process of taming yours. Whenever I'm in a combative situation, I always suppress my emotions and resort to logic. I don't really know how to cope with emotional outbursts - somehow listing pros and cons usually makes things worse. This is undoubtedly why I'm in IT and why my wife hates arguing with me.

I believe that there will always be players whose emotions dominate their decision-making, I hate emotion-driven arguments, and I think refs would go a long way towards tempering this. But that is, of course, just how I feel.

More on nothing ...

This nothing that is everything is what it's all about. The pursuit of joy is the natural way of things. It's hard to get past thousands of years of social brainwashing and actually live that way. Pure sport, like ultimate in our case, is a way to touch that, even if only for a couple of hours at a time.

I think I'll sell all my belongs, close all my accounts, donate what little money there is, and go live in an abandoned bus in the wilderness of Alaskanada.

- J

ps. Cool Hand Luke = awesome
BC & the SdK = awesome
Vanishing Point = netflix queue

pps. For an interesting social commentary, check out Ishmael by David Quinn.

dusty.rhodes said...

Not about taming them... more about finding a way to remain balanced no matter the emotion. I can feel angry and think calmly. I can feel threatened and act logically. I can express my emotions without making them the dominant force.

On field arguments are not what it is all about. I usually just ask the other person to listen to my question and then tell me he is still sure, calmly. If so, done. If not, I will tell him my opinion, make my call and take the appropriate corresponding rules-action with no hard feelings. I'll trust him to be honest. It is okay to have the emotional outburst. We care about our little nothing! But that doesn't prevent us from discussing something.

Attach/Detach. Inside the system (playing the game), awareness of the ability to step outside of the system (talking about the game during a stoppage). Mental and Emotional gymnastics.

"Pure sport, like ultimate in our case, is a way to touch that, even if only for a couple of hours at a time."

Yes. Exactly.

Don't do the bus man. I'd be expecting mailbombs soon enough from you, you crazy Doughno. Perhaps you would prefer "Cannesota" to Alaskanada? I mean, if we're arguing about the border of the US and Canuckistan.

gapoole said...

Even so, when a defender not near me on the field and not looking at me calls a travel on my huck for a goal, it makes me want to throw up my hands in disgust and disappointment. It happened today at a for-nothing scrimmage, and I didn't know what to do. I sat down in protest--perhaps not what I ought to have done, in retrospect, but it's upsetting.

I'm all for active Observer travel calls, but until that happens I'm still going to struggle to embrace the kind of mentality you give here. I generally refrain from arguing, but sometimes can't help saying, "absolutely not, I disagree," while asking for the disc back.

dusty.rhodes said...

The interesting thing is that with "Absolutley not" and "I disagree" you are saying two distinct things.

Absolutely not does not allow for the other person to think otherwise or to have a different perspective.

I disagree allows for the possibility that different people experienced different versions of the same event.

Just because I think what someone called is complete crap doesn't make me argue with him. It makes me express my opinion and move on. I don't want to debate the point with you, I want you to take what I say and then assess how that informs what you said while I do the opposite.

Do it honestly. Open up your brain and try to accept what the otehr person says might be true. Even if you don't, assume that they believe it just as much as you believe your version. What's the thing that sets you off the most when the other person disagrees with you? It isn't saying "I disagree with you" it is saying "You are wrong." or perhaps "Absolutely Not!"

I should reiterate that I'm not perfect. I have lost my temper, but I do it less now because I realize that the choice to do so is mine and how I react in those situations tells people more about me than all of the other things I do. Those are the moments my opponents remember. Those are the moments my teammates remember. Why would I aim for anything less than perfection??

It's a journey, Glenn. You get to chose the destination and the route. Just like you do with your preparation for everything else in ultimate.