Relative Sportsmanship

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Craig, I'm not sure you followed this thread close enough.

*Nobody* has suggested that you must call every infraction that you witness, down to the
letter of the rule. Nobody at all. I certainly don't share that opinion, I don't preach it, and I
don't play that way. Nobody is calling for dogmatic adherence to the rules by all teams/divs.

I and others (and the definition of SOTG) are calling for absolute *acceptance* of playing by
the rules. There's a very important difference there. You don't have to play exactly by the
rules, but you do have to accept when a team wants to.

Playing with an 'unspoken altered ruleset' is acceptable when both teams have the same
unspoken altered ruleset. Quite often this works. However, as you've pointed out, there are
times where the two teams have differing rulesets. That leads to friction (but it shouldn't).

I'm not suggesting that you must make all altered rulesets explicit, but I am suggesting that
when you realize that the team you're playing isn't playing by the same altered ruleset that
you've adopted, you *must* accept that (as long as they are playing by the real rules).

You can *never* get upset that a valid call is made or think that it is unfair or unspirited.
That is absolutely counter to SOTG. That's a very important point, that seems to be lost by a
lot of people that play by a different version of the rules.

A team playing by the rules, is not a valid detractor of your team's fun. You all agreed to
play by the rules, you can't be upset that your opponent doesn't agree to your additional
modifications of the rules.

Playing fast and loose with the rules can be fine.

Playing fast and loose with the rules, and *expecting* that your opponent to do the same is
poor spirit and leads to the kinds of conflicts that have been described in this thread.

"Playing fast and loose with the rules, and *expecting* that your opponent to do the same is
poor spirit and leads to the kinds of conflicts that have been described in this thread."

I think players have the right to expect a game begun in a 'fast and loose' fashion will continue
to be so played. If you want to be rule-sticklers you should do so from the get-go, not when it
becomes advantageous in the quest for a win.

See, that's what you think, but we're not obligated to play the way you think we should (or
the way I think we should for that matter). This is the point of this discussion, Keam.

We are obligated to play the way we all pledged to play, and that is within the rules as
defined by SOTG.

"I think players have the right to expect a game begun in a 'fast and loose' fashion will
continue to be so played. If you want to be rule-sticklers you should do so from the get-go,
not when it becomes advantageous in the quest for a win."

I, many others, and the accepted guiding principles of our sport, disagree with both of those
statements.

If you choose to believe that you're right and all those people are wrong, so be it, but I'd like
to ask you to please not teach that to others.

I think consistency is key with rules. You should start the game playing by the same set of rules
you end with. Personally, I don't have a problem with a 'call everything' approach as it
encourages improvement in skills. But, I reiterate, suddenly deciding to start enforcing every
infraction when you are down a few points smacks of poor spirit to me.

It's no different than when police pull you over as the one guy who gets a ticket when everyone
else is speeding. It breeds a sense of unfairness and resentment. That's just the way people are
wired.

I understand your point. You're talking about a case where both teams are playing by the
*same* unspoken ruleset. However you can almost never really be sure of that. You have to
make many assumptions that that is the case, many of which can be wrong (though not
always).

What happens when the two teams do have a different idea of the 'unspoken agreement'?
Things break down entirely, both teams think the other is cheating or playing unfairly. Why
encourage such a house-of-cards Spirit ethos?

What about when my team is playing relaxed, but I see the other team really take advantage
of us by breaking the rules? The other team goes up a few points by traveling, fast counting,
encroaching our disc space, etc. Yeah, sure both teams were technically breaking those rules
(most teams do), but perhaps the other is really gaining an advantage by it.

How can you think that my team shouldn't make any of those calls? How can you think that
my team has to allow all further violations because we didn't call a few less egregious ones?

What about the case where my team is 'happy-go-lucky', we don't bother calling the first
few, because we don't want to be 'sticklers'? Are we then forbidden from ever making calls by
your sense of Spirit, and then forced to allow the other team to break the rules and roll over
us?

--

"But, I reiterate, suddenly deciding to start enforcing every infraction when you are down a
few points smacks of poor spirit to me."

Yeah, we realize. Do you also realize that it is not poor spirit by the definition of SOTG
upheld by the VUL, CUPA, UPA, and WFDF?

To reach your conclusion, you have to assume that both teams are playing with identical
unspoken rule variants (and variant opinions of what SOTG is). That's simply not the case the
majority of the time.

True SOTG means you never get upset by a valid call. Never.

You disagree, I know, that's ok. You've got an idea of SOTG that's different, and you think
that your KeamSOTG is better. You're not going to convince me to adopt KeamSOTG. The
thing is, whichever system is better, it only works if everybody uses the same version. So, I
think it would be better for everybody if you try not to convert others to KeamSOTG. Perhaps
the best thing is for you to grin and bear it when some jerk wants to play with SOTG, and not
KeamSOTG.

"I understand your point."

Nope. You really don't

later.

"So maybe the question we're debating here, is to what degree should the league attempt to constrain the variety of different approaches to the game? How 'monotheistic' should our leagues or culture be? Is it OK for teams in div-x to have their own way of playing against each other, even if one team may have to adjust when they change divisions and encounter teams with a different approach?"

We have had ample debate about which "version" of SOTG should be used if one exclusive definition is adopted, and I will defer to others on this thread that the "official" version of SOTG is the easiest to keep consistent with other leagues.

The point/issue which I'm not sure has been made clear is that many teams in VUL are *not* playing under the same understanding. I cannot speak for the upper divisions, but in the lower divisions I have witnessed significant frustration from many teams with the types of behaviours - legal or not - which I have described above, and this tells me that the official rules and SOTG are not being properly reinforced to junior teams. From what I hear, arguing over rules/calls is something that is seen increasingly in the middle divisions also.

Further to this, I agree with Craig's pragmatism in that 'monotheism' is not necessarily the answer. Indocrinating all teams into playing with the same mindset, for a 2000-3000 person league, requires immense resources in order to develop an effective orientation program, and then more resources in order to spread and repeat this message to each team and member so as to ensure compliance. My guess is that the VUL just does not have access to these resources.

I'm not sure of the circumstances of their creation, but it appears to me that the "spirit scoring system" was an attempt by the VUL to respond to comments/complaints about what exactly "SOTG" meant in application. Maligned and misnamed as the system may be, it reads like a reasonable, applicable set of "how-to" guidelines for newbies, where the SOTG ideals read like the ten commandments: noble aspirations, but seemingly impossible to expect anyone to completely live up to. Case in point, I reference the statement:

"Respect also means understanding that, no matter how sure you are that the disc was caught out-of-bounds, someone else's reality may be different, and to accept that disagreement without anger or argument."

Is it practical to expect a newbie, perhaps familiar with other sports' levels/acceptance of competition, to feel no anger or argument in the heat of the moment when they feel they are being "robbed", just on account of reading this single paragraph? I myself read the paragraph, and assumed it meant "without *too much* anger or argument", and that the literal interpretation was just another sports cliche. Is it any wonder then that some teams have an understanding of SOTG that is more consistent with the spirit scoring, which at least seems tangible and consistent with other sports, than with the official SOTG definition, which is somewhat counterintuitive to take literally?

It appears to me that, like it or not, there *are* differing versions of the game being played in the VUL. Further, I doubt the VUL has the resources to create a 'monotheistic (monoultistic?) society' even if it wanted to. It would be easier and cheaper (if SOTG-killing) to provide a ref for each game. I believe that the VUL has in the past, and continues in the present, to address this issue; if it is true that arguing calls and "foul frustration" is an "increasing problem", then I would say there is much work to be done. One can take the position that "you aren't playing the right game, so your frustration is your problem", but if the numbers of frustrated people are increasing, this is really a league problem, and a more comprehensive answer is necessary.

Good post, Simon.

I think you nailed the real issue there, but I don't think reffing is the right idea.

I think the attitude that anything less than "accept that disagreement without anger or argument" is acceptable is the thing that needs to be addressed.

The VUL has always assumed that this part of SOTG is well-communicated. Based on my observations and other comments in this thread, I'd say that maybe that's not the case anymore.

Can't address the problem without it being identified. One would think that there are lots of things the VUL can do to sort it out.

Part of that, if not all, is on the Captains, as it has always been. But clearly there is an opportunity to do more here.

"Is it practical to expect a newbie, perhaps familiar with other sports' levels/acceptance of
competition, to feel no anger or argument in the heat of the moment when they feel they are
being "robbed", just on account of reading this single paragraph? I myself read the paragraph,
and assumed it meant "without *too much* anger or argument", and that the literal
interpretation was just another sports cliche."

Is it practical to expect all players to immediately understand this? No. But that doesn't mean
we give up and throw out that fundamental guiding principle. You have to accept that in order
to have an enjoyable experience playing a self-refereed sport.

Simon, I read from your statement something like: 'because I didn't know, and many people
don't know, we shouldn't even try to get players to know how to play with SOTG'. That's
garbage.

There is a SOTG learning curve, you're on it (we are all on it), you can choose to move up
that curve, or you can dig your heels in and continue to suggest that nobody should be
expected to learn.

--

"It appears to me that, like it or not, there *are* differing versions of the game being played
in the VUL. Further, I doubt the VUL has the resources to create a 'monotheistic
(monoultistic?) society' even if it wanted to."

Of course there are, nobody's suggesting that there aren't. What you should understand is
that you need to recognize when this is happening, and under no circumstances can you
expect the other team to comply with your bastardized version of the game. The only version
you can *expect* another to uphold is the version of the game that is set down by the League
and the ultimate community as a whole.

--

"It would be easier and cheaper (if SOTG-killing) to provide a ref for each game. "

That would not be the game we all signed up to play. Fair enough, maybe you're only just
now learning this, but it's true. Try to understand that. The fact that you didn't know or
understand the fundamental principles of ultimate, doesn't change the fundamental principles
of ultimate.

Every new team in the league is assigned a mentor. The chief thrust of this program is to
pass down the knowledge of the game (rules, SOTG, etc). It sounds like your team could
have used (more/better) mentoring.

You've got a choice now Simon. Take what you've learned about SOTG and run with it, be a
positive influence to those that you meet on the field. Or you can stand stubborn and keep
playing your special version of Ultimate, because 'everybody else is doing it'.

Which way do you think will result in more strife?

I agree that refs are not the solution.

I've been meaning to reply to this thread since Sat, but haven't had time. I wanted to make one quick point for now:

Temple: "True SOTG means you never get upset by a valid call. Never."
Simon: "Is it practical to expect a newbie, perhaps familiar with other sports' levels/acceptance of competition, to feel no anger or argument in the heat of the moment when they feel they are being robbed".

No, it's not practical to expect players to feel no anger, to never get upset or frustrated, even with valid calls. We cannot legislate or control how people feel. To even think we can do so is a fools game.

We CAN set limits, however, on how people behave. We can create and maintain a culture where it's unacceptable to communicate anger in an aggressive, disrespectful or argumentative manner. I think that's what Temple might have meant by 'never get upset', but I think it's important to make that distinction clear. It's not that people shouldn't feel things, it's what they do next that we should focus on. It's the disrespectful tone of some actions and discussions that's unacceptable, not the fact that discussions or disagreements sometimes do occur.

Temple,

You aren't addressing my point, so I'm guessing that you didn't read my post.

Cheers.

Craig: "We CAN set limits, however, on how people behave. We can create and maintain a
culture where it's unacceptable to communicate anger in an aggressive, disrespectful or
argumentative manner. I think that's what Temple might have meant by 'never get upset',
but I think it's important to make that distinction clear. "

Not exactly (although I agree with what you said regarding the culture created). I honestly
believe that that is true SOTG, and that if you achieve true enlightenment of SOTG, then you
won't be upset by any call.

I'm not suggesting that's necessarily achievable (maybe it is), and I'm not suggesting I'm
near there. However I do realize that that is what true SOTG is. The idea that one person
cannot act with true SOTG 100% of the time does not change what true SOTG is.

I recognize that fact every time I think somebody made a garbage call. I then think that -'it
is wrong for me to be upset. The fundamental nature of the game I love to play relies on the
fact that the other call is just as good as mine.'- I honestly believe that the best outcome to
that play is not what 'really happened', but BTT. I can play a sport where what 'really
happened' is adhered to, but I don't want to. Sure it sucks when the play goes BTT when you
really should have scored, but without those moments, you're not playing Ultimate.

Remember, with self-refereeing, it's *more fair* to go BTT than to have the play follow what
'really happened'.

I'm no lama, I get a little upset over calls from time to time. However, there's a difference
between getting upset over a call and getting upset over a call and knowing that's wrong of
you. The later can frequently serve to diffuse any ill-will. The former, where you don't step
outside the moment and realize that you really shouldn't be upset about the call, allows for
build-up of ill-will.

Without that inherent trust of every call, you'll invariably be involved in games against
what you perceive to be cheaters. Not only is that not fun for you, but you'll quite often
reflect that in your attitude, this can lead to the dreaded death spiral of negativity.

We've all been in that game (it sounds like the OP was a result of one), and it's absolutely no
fun for everybody involved. You just want to get the game over with. Where does that
downward spiral start? It starts in the perception of a call that 'the player shouldn't have
made' and festers. Eliminate that thought, be happier, enjoy your games more.

Maybe it's unrelated, but all of the people I've ever known that knew the rules cold (which
isn't to say 100% perfectly), all of them had a really, really strong grasp of that. I've never
seen one of those people arguing a call or a rule (on-field), or making a spurious call to
'offset' a 'bad call' the other team might have made. When they really got to know the rules,
they understood that the foundation of the very game of Ultimate relies on BTT. Without it,
the game goes sideways fast. Realize that and you grow to appreciate and enjoy the BTT.

I agree with the previous post. The playoffs this year - probably every year - seem to bring out the best and worst in sportsmanship/spirit. Its too bad that arguments escalate more frequently, but that comes with the territory of comepeting hard.

But I still think people should calm down a little more. I understand sometimes there are disputes over calls made, but people should be able to control the tone in their voice, and attitude towards opponents throughout the game.

Most of the games in the playoffs for me have had some type of heated argument regarding rules, fouls, etc. and I'm sure some of you have as well, but it is getting rediculous how some people are getting too confrontational. The most extreme case I was involved in, where an openent wanted to FIGHT over a call made. Unfortunately we had to end the game to prevent the fight.

Now If you want to fight about something, yell, make threats and berate your opponent, bring those qualities to the boxing ring, not the ultimate field. It really isnt enjoyable for anyone when things like this happen.

If you had a bad day at work, have other stresses bothering you, please ensure you cool down before coming to the field. We dont want external forces interfering with the spirit of the game and sportsmanship. Even if you have a teammate who seems to be on edge, let them know in a nice way of course..to cool down. Ensure your voice is in the low, and not yelling as this tends to increase the risk of arguments. We should be calm civilized people, not an angry mob. Hopefully people can remain competitive yet spiritful/sportsman-like.

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