Philosophical Debate on Picks

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There is (what I think to be) an interesting philosophical debate come up on the 11th Edition
Rules newsgroup. I'm curious to see how others feel about it.

It is regarding Picks when the disc is airborne.

Under the 10th Ed, there was a rule that stated "When the disc is in the air, players must play
the disc, not the opponent." Effectively that meant that once the disc was up, you were no
longer allowed to be chasing your check, and therefore he could not pick you. This wording
has been removed from the 11th Ed and therefore currently Picks are technically allowed
while the disc is airborne. I was following the changes to the 11th and to my knowledge the
wording was not changed specifically for this purpose. It is not listed among the substantive
changes from the 10th.

Where the philosophy comes in is that there are cases where we would probably want a pick
to be able to be called when the disc is in the air, and cases where we would not want that to
be a valid call.

Scenario 1: Player O1 is being checked by D1 within 10 feet. D1 is facing O1 and is not aware
that the disc has just been thrown (call the ups!). The throw is high and floaty. O2 comes in
and tries for the disc at the same time as O1 and as he bids for the disc puts himself between
O1 and D1, causing D1 to be obstructed.

Scenario 2: O1 is being checked by D1 within 10 feet. O1 button hooks around D2 causing D1
to be obstructed. None of the three players knew that the disc was in the air at the time.

Scenario 3: O1 is being checked by D1 within 10 feet. The disc is hucked long, but neither O1
nor D1 realize this. O2 strikes to catch the huck and runs directly between O1 and D1, causing
D1 to be obstructed.

Scenario 4: O1 is being checked by D1 within 10 feet. O1, runs past D2 who is standing still,
not watching the thrower. The disc is thrown before D1 runs past D2. O1 turns toward the disc
causing D1 to be obstructed.

Each of these four examples (that are not altogether implausible), could technically be a pick
by the reading of the 11th Ed rules. The question is, how should the rules be interpreted?
Does a change need to be made? If so, how do you change the rules to satisfy what the
majority feels should happen?

My opinion is that there is an increased risk of danger when people are running closely past
others. The pick rule was created as a disincentive for the Offense to try to force their checks
to run closely past, run around, or be blocked altogether. There are definite safety
considerations is allowing plays that would be picks if the disc wasn't in the air.

However there are cases where the 'just' resolution is that the play is not a pick. It seems a
balance has to be struck.

My gut feeling is that when the disc is in the air, there is no O and no D, only Receivers.
Adding language which states that offensive movement caused by reacting to an airborne disc
is not a pick would allow Scenarios 1, 3, and 4, while still calling scenario 2 a pick. This
seems more 'right' to me, but we're going back to where the 10th Ed was by allowing certain
actions that may be just as dangerous as a regular Pick when the disc is not airborne.


I haven't yet taken the time to think about this, but one thing jumps to mind. In scenario 3, assuming that D1 is not making an attempt on the disc (not being aware that it has been thrown), the pick does not affect the play, so aside from some flow issues the result is unaffected. Depending on the particulars of timing etc, scenario 2 might also fall under the "didn't affect the play" aspect.

In all instances however, assuming that the players are all running unless stated otherwise, it seems as though the actions you describe do significantly increase the risk of collision. In my mind, a pick call isn' entirely unjustified (except for scenario 1, where is sounds like O2 is the only one moving.)

As to the first part about affecting play, the effect of a pick call would also enable D1 to
catch up the lost ground. This is another reason one might want to call pick there (other than

As for the safety issue, I've been thinking a bit more about it. I'm loathe to add in cases
which sacrifice safety especially if the justification for the action was 'I was going for the
disc'. Part of me would hate if we legislated that in the rules, even in such a specific case.

On the flip-side, I thought about why we have the pick rule in the first place. Obviously it is
for safety, but how exactly does it help safety? We have other rules regarding collisions and
taking an unoccupied space. A significant danger though is when you have people running at
high speed quite close to one another, possibly in nearly opposite directions. If the defense
has to run as closely as possible while not colliding in order to not be at a disadvantage, that
creates a rather thin margin for error. Due to situational awareness, surprises, or mistaken
timing, accidents can and do happen.

The pick rule helps mitigate this in two ways as I see it. First is that it creates a disincentive
for the Offense to create these situations, and second is that it creates an incentive for the
Defense to avoid entering these situations. Of course these situations do still happen
somewhat regularly, and collisions are not as rare as they should be in my opinion.

I wonder how that would be affected by reverting to how it was in the 10th Ed and disallowing
picks when the disc is in the air (at least part of the time). I don't think there was a
measurable change in the amount of pick behaviour since the adoption of the 11th Ed. I
wonder if the safety issue is even likely to exist.

Another question I have is: would a rule change which disallowed picks when the disc is in the
air affect an O's movement? If that O is unaware that the disc is in the air, he will be playing
identically as if the disc were not. If he sees the disc in the air, should he ever have to worry
about where his check is, instead of going for the disc while avoiding contact?

The flip side of that question is: would that rule change affect a D's movement? If the D is
unaware that the disc is in the air, then I suggest he would be just as likely to avoid the
dangerous situations and call Pick (even if it resulted that it wasn't a pick or the outcome
resulted in the completion always standing). If the D knows the disc is in the air, I think we
all agree that he won't or shouldn't be chasing the O, but rather going for the disc.

Overall, I'm not sure that people would play differently. It didn't seem to happen between the
10th and 11th. While it's possible that a player with extremely detailed knowledge of the
rules could alter his behaviour, I don't see that as very likely.

Temple. This is an interesting topic. However, let me pose another possibility to solve this issue.

I believe another set of rules maybe required to deal with the situation when the disc is in the air.

Then again, this may make it even more complicated.