To foul or not to foul?

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I've been seeing a problem come up more and more this year, and I'm curious to see what other people and teams think.

Basically, I'm seeing that if fouls are called throughout the course of a game, it is looked at as "unspirited" by the other team. Arguments typically follow as to why the offending player didn't cause a foul, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes the fouls are simply contested and the play goes BTT as it should, but the act of calling the foul was seen as "cheating". Teams (that I've encountered) are simply not respecting the act of calling any foul, whether a good call or not, and would seem to prefer disregarding all such rules and just playing the game.

I've observed this on two different nights, four different divisions (as high as Div 3), and with multiple teams. In any of the games, I would say an average of 5 foul calls (maybe upwards of 10) are called, none I would consider "cheap" (i.e. borderline travel calls when your defense is badly broken, etc.).

As far as I can tell and have been told by the other teams, the act of calling the foul is the issue, not whether it was legitimate or not. We are either A) "Pushing them around" by using the rules, or B) Calling more fouls than they are used to. I would like to think teams can respect a foul call if it is made, and simply contested if they disagree with it. It would be really absurd to think a few foul calls throughout the course of a game were being used to "cheat" and not "make sure people were playing by the rules".

Personally, I think that anyone complaining because you made a justified foul call is very much in the wrong. By agreeing to play ultimate in the VUL, they agreed to play by a certain set of rules. If they break those rules, they should expect the consequences that are laid out beforehand.

Making their complaints sillier is the fact that, because the rules assume that nobody will attempt to break a rule, the "consequences" are simply an attempt to recreate the situation had the rule not been broken. I would continue to call fouls that you feel are justified. If your opponents object, (especially if they agree that the foul was valid) then some polite words with them later are in order.

That's the general consensus that my teams have, we're are all pretty sure that what we're doing is completely acceptable.

My concern is that this is becoming somewhat of an epidemic with newly formed/younger teams. We're all out there to play and have fun, but you have to realize that fouls are part of the game. If you can't accept that the players you are playing against act as the referees and will be making such calls, you should reconsider playing. In the 7 years I've played in the VUL I've rarely if ever seen a call that I would flat out say "Yes, that was a terrible call in the spirit of cheating". People don't make calls (imho) to gain an advantage in a recreational league, they're doing it to keep order in the game and possibly prevent injuries or things from escalating (if contact is a major reason for foul calls).

There's no accounting for people who want to cheat.

You can't please them by allowing them to foul you. Do your best to play fairly and
respectfully, if they still have an issue with you, then it's their problem.

I agree that making valid calls is looked at poorly by many people. I disagree though that it's
rare that people will make calls to gain an advantage. There's a lot of that going on across

I think the only way to really help this is through good mentoring. Unfortunately most people
who've been playing long enough to mentor don't know the rules any better than the average
team being mentored. People like this generally play safely and fairly, but are unlikely to
even care that they know the rules or not, let alone be able to impart the good philosophy
behind having 14 respectful and fair referees on the field.

While it IS inherent in the spirit of the game that a foul isn't an affront to the person it is called against, a lot of recreational players that have a background in other sports have been conditioned for years and years and years to react against and dispute calls against them.

Knowing this, I make a point to constantly reinforce with teams I play on that a foul against isn't an insult, it's just a call. The worst thing a player can do is be defensive about it and most of people, once reminded of this simple truth, cease to get upset about it in the future.

I actually think this is one of the biggest challenges the VUL has with regards to spirit of the game, especially considering how much of the VUL population consists of casual players. I think this could be a useful thing for the LC to repeat and drill into us during captain's meetings etc.

Those are my two pesos.

Here's some snarky retorts for the whiners:

"If you stop fouling me, I'll stop calling them."

"Playing by the rules isn't cheating."

"Is crying your way of saying contest?"

A few weeks ago I was checking a guy and as we ran past the disc (they were on D) the mark fouled my teammate. We had a player in the end zone wide open. He looked back and said 'nice foul' to his teammate.

I couldn't believe it.

"We had a player in the end zone wide open. He looked back and said 'nice foul' to his
teammate. I couldn't believe it."

What can you do? This form of cheating has been encouraged by the type of cheapassery that
goes on in competitive ultimate. Nowhere else will you learn that performing a marking foul
is a
smart play.

Events like this puts into perspective the idea that a tougher, more physical game is
acceptable in competitive ultimate. That play is absolutely not acceptable in a self-refereed

If you have absolutely no recourse when your opponent blatantly cheats, it makes you wonder
why you're playing. We're not there yet, but it seems we're heading in the direction where
that's what good league play is.

more often I'm seeing a combative response to foul calls, regardless of the validity of the call. It seems more often now than in the good ol days the accepted norm is to treat foul calls with disgust. This seems to have been originated or reinforced by the angry exchanges in competetive ulty. "That Furious George guy angrily contests calls, so I have to do it too..!"

Ha ha we can actually call it "monkey see, monkey do" har har

"Nowhere else will you learn that performing a marking foul is a smart play."

Forgive me if I misunderstood this comment, but I immediately thought of basketball. While I love competitive ultimate, I really, really hate basketball. Perhaps it's b/c in ulti, the frequency of these obvious marking fouls is lower...not sure.

Players at all levels must understand that a foul call is just as much a part of this game as scoring a point.

how can you hate basketball?

I don't think you can compare ultimate with any other sports, as far as fouls, or any other aspect really. Especially within the VUL with the self-referees and spirit of the is a sport and culture all its own.

I'm making an assumption, but given the context I'm guessing that YourMom is referring to the (blatantly) intentional fouls used in basketball to force a free throw and give a chance to get the ball back on the rebound. This deliberate fouling is fully accepted, and I also don't like it.

As for how one can hate basketball, I can see it easily. From having watched a fair bit or rec basketball, the referees and their inconsistency can be infuriating. In that respect I can see it as similar to the "elite" ulti behaviour discussed here: in theory the game is fantastic, but when you see it put into practice it can be quite another thing. That statement can apply equally to either sport.

"I don't think you can compare ultimate with any other sports, as far as fouls, or any other
aspect really."

Recreational tennis relies on very much the same sense of sportsmanship and honesty w/r/t self-
refereed/honor system of enforcing rules. If you're a blatant ass about in and out line calls you'll
soon find no one will play with you.

I think the intentional foul in b-ball is way less offensive than the intentional dive ubiquitous in
soccer and growing in popularity in hockey. At least in basketball there's no pretense. Faking a
foul is about as lame as it gets when it comes to being a good sport.

In basketball, there's a clear consequence for the foul, too -- you're likely to get points scored against you if you foul someone while they're shooting, and you'll get kicked out of the game if you get too many fouls. It's not really like you're cheating, as you don't get a pure advantage out of it.

There are no such consequences in ultimate, and the rules are structured with the assumption that there won't be any intentional fouls. That makes them much more egregious, in my view. If things get worse, I can see the upa observer rules evolving so there will be some consequence for intentional fouls. Kick a player out for that point (so your team plays with 6), get the disc on your opponents brick mark, etc. Of course, WFDF won't want that, but I've wondered if upa and wfdf rules will continue to diverge on this point.

In the VUL, teams have been kicked out of the league for serious spirit violations, and one could argue that repeated intentional fouls could fall into that category.