Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Modest Proposal

Regarding how the leagues distribute their officials during events. Or, more precisely, add to the factors being considered. Have each prospective ref fill out a very simple form in which he (or she) lists the teams they have played for and any current players or teams they have any personal relationships with.
Oh, I know, all the refs know peeps and have played on teams, blah, blah, blah. The point isn't to disqualify anybody from being a ref. It is to use that information in considering which fields to assign which refs to and to have available should any post event evaluation prove necessary. Such a move would also serve to reassure teams that the leagues were taking every possible measure to provide the most impartial officiating possible.
I'd also be interested in knowing what process, if any, exists for evaluating the on field effort of the refs. In the PSP and NPPL is it just Tim S. and Dave Z. trying to evaluate the quality of the officiating post event or is it even done? I have no idea but I am curious.
I do know -- in a slight change of pace -- that in recording penalties called in the NXL that data has accumulated on which refs called which penalties and that the league has no intention (zero, zip, nada) of EVER making that information available. I wonder why that is?

Now some of y'all no doubt are curious about the same things I'm curious about but others of y'all think I've got no business questioning much of anything related to what the leagues do and that I ought to be grateful for all the improvements the leagues have made in recent years. Hey, at least I'm not advocating feeding indigent children to poor people.


raehl said...

Perhaps they don't release that information for exactly the same reason no other sport releases statistics on their officials.

Baca Loco said...

I'm sure that's true, Chris, but are you suggesting that because everyone does it it's okay?
Besides, there's a difference between making information public and having some mechanism in place that provides oversight.
What's your objection to finding out what relationships and afiliations the refs may have?

raehl said...

I don't have any objections to finding out ref affiliations, although I think the PERCEIVED problem is much larger than the actual one. The refs are pretty well mixed up and they frankly just don't care who is playing - too hard for them to keep track.

What my comment was related to was the suggestion that metrics about the calls the refs are making be released. That's a horrible idea. If a ref isn't performing well, the league should fix it. Making the stats public does nothing to help the league fix the problem, but puts the officials in a position where instead of just being able to make the right call, they start considering how the call is going to effect their public stats.

As far as the public is concerned, the officials should be anonymous cogs in the machine of competition.

JStein said...


What was it that happened at Cup that set you on this path. A Modest Proposal and The Boundary of Sport and, to a lesser extent, Monopoly 101 and Live Webcast and the Video Camera all insinuate biased reffing. Not just bad reffing, but biased. Unless, of course, I'm just completely missing the point.

Its all gray area. Every ref knows players and teams. Doesn't make them dirty. And if there was a ref who didn't know anyone, it wouldn't make him clean. They work for DYE and Smart Parts. But if those companies wanted to rig the league, seems like there would be easier ways to do it.

I personally prefer to hear the stories of what went wrong. Ironclad evidence (delivered 3rd party, after the fact, online, of course) so I can read it and say, "wow". Otherwise.... Hey EVEN IF THE REFS WERE DIRTY (and i'm not saying they are), it would be no worse than when we reffed ourselves.

timS said...

I personally spent huge amounts of time covering every field with the help of a couple assistants Marcus & Jason - evaluating and adjusting refs and even positioning throughout each event. With World Cup, this has been 9 divisional fields for the past three years. We're also talking about roughly 120 people between scroekeepers, field ultimates, and the positional judges as well.

At the Chicago event this past June, we even broke out the evaluation forms and had the field ultimates critique each one of their judges - which helped the ultimates buy into the fact that this is "their" field for the event.

While I understand that the perception of ref/player/team bias will always exist, and thus never go away - you also have to have faith in the fact that at least with the PSP ref staff - they are hired on personality as well as rules knowledge and I preach customer service more that rules knowledge for all beginning refs.

Also keep in mind that the better job we do judging these events, the more players/teams approach our refs and thus the vivious circle of perceived bias has now been completed;)

Until we add the wireless hit detection system that shuts down your gear and escorts you off the field - soory to say you'll be stuck with us humans and all of our flaws...

(sorry for the novel, had to get back into the real job after Cup)

-Tim Schroepfer (PSP Rules & Reffing)

Tim said...

...I also wanted to add that there are refs/scorekeepers that the PSP does not bring back after reviewing these before mentioned evals or due to 1-on-1 conversations had at the given events, but in most cases these individuals cut themselves before we do, as they know that they are not cutout to handle the requirements of the job, guys & gals both...

[had to add more because i found my old gmail login;)]


Baca Loco said...

Before commenting on the comments I'd like to thank all of you for taking a moment to respond. I appreciate it, no matter how badly I might treat you, and it certainly helps givea fuller picture with more diverse opinions.

Chris, I don't disagree with your statement about perceptions at all nor am I suggesting in any way, shape or form that under every rock is a ref with an agenda. However, if there are ways to minimize the possibilities and do so in such a way it bolsters confidence then why not do it?
As to what the refs ought to be and what they are at this stage of the game are two dramatically different things. As is what the league ought to do and what happens -- how are those on the outside supposed to know?

Baca Loco said...

Seems you are missing the point or reading too much between the lines. As Tim well knows this is nothing new for me and if you were to find some home bound recluse hording ancient copies of PGi you could read me periodically banging the drum about officiating then too. As well as subjects like the future direction of the game.
The only post related to anything that happened at Cup was the webcast and video cam one and I said precisely what I wanted to say, didn't dwell on it and there you go.
A Modest Proposal was generic on purpose. The NXL comment was an afterthought--as noted in the post. I see the idea as applicable to any league. (And the NXL standard as unsatisfactory.)
Monopoly 101 is about the PSTA and where it will lead.
The Boundary of Sport is about the disparity of accountability and was aimed much higher up the food chain than referees. They just happen to be the primary standard most players and teams use to judge any league -- or at least it seems so to me.
If you want Shocking True Tales you'll have to ask me in San Diego. :)

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, Tim.
If I gave the impression I was singling out the PSP I apologise. I was non-specific on purpose. As per raehl's post one of the issues is perception and by taking the time to provide more info here about how the PSP handles things I expect it is helpful.

Baca Loco said...

Obviously Monopoly 101 isn't about the PSTA. But it still ain't about reffing either.
Senility ain't pretty.