I have made some comments recently that may not have been fully understood on the subject of officiating so I'm taking this moment to (hopefully) offer some clarification. (The voting pace on The Monday Poll(s) has dwindled considerably so don't think that saved you from another St. Tropez post, it didn't.)
Before getting into paintball officiating however I want to offer a neutral analogy that may help separate fact from friction. In baseball the umpire calls balls & strikes. While no penalties attach to the process it is integral to the play of the game and defined in the rules. Despite that the interpretation of the rules has changed over the years and the so-called "strike zone" is not what it once was. But whatever the purist may think of an evolving interpretation of the rules the game remains fair--at least within the context of called balls & strikes--as long as the umpire calls them the same for both teams. Imagine a game where one team plays with the current strike zone that includes the rubber and sometimes even proximity to the rubber if the other team is forced to play to the old smaller strike zone. There can be no fair or balanced or impartial game for the competitors unless the rules, whatever they are, are understood, interpreted and enforced the same way for everyone. When I refer to the consistency of the officiating this is what I'm talking about.
When the MS tries to remove subjective determinations from the officiating by, for example, largely eliminating the concept of the unobvious hit the intent is to produce greater uniformity (or consistency) in the calls by the refs as a group. Which is a) a proper goal and b) indicative of the league's attempt to continue improving the officiating. What it doesn't tell us is whether or not it's a good rule. (The guiding principle here must be what sort of game do we want to play.)
In the recent St. Tropez event post where I was critical of elements of the officiating that criticism was principally directed at the inconsistencies on display but not entirely. A lack of perfect consistency is a part of the game (of any refereed game or sport) as we will never have perfect refs. But striving toward that goal remains worthwhile and the burden falls to what I commonly call institutional control to oversee and regulate. (To be fair to the MS this is on their radar. In my conversation with Laurent he described a merit-based system in talking about the training and placement of refs. In follow up discussion with some other long time MS watchers it seems clear a purely merit-based approach may be a goal but isn't yet a reality. Nor was it clear beyond generalities just what mechanisms were in place to assure such outcomes. Even so it is a path to continued progress.)
Institutional control when it comes to officiating covers a number of things. Real institutional control means that a plan and goal(s) exist aimed at achieving a well defined standard. It means that personnel and a system are in place to implement the plan and oversee the process and make changes as necessary. But as with the playing of the game failure or success comes down to execution. The MS appears to have the pieces in place. That leaves only the question of whether or not the league has the will to make it happen. All things considered they haven't done badly. (And I would say the same about the PSP. The NPPL took steps in the off season to provide some institutional control but the jury remains out as to whether or not it will be implemented or effective.) I will detail the inconsistencies--at least as we experienced them--in the next St. Tropez post.
The other area I criticised is really an issue of game philosophy. (I know, I'm losing the few of you who are still with me. It's okay but somebody has to talk about this stuff.) All games & sports are defined by the limitations imposed by rules. They give it shape and describe how it works. They are tools. They are not the game or sport they define. That said my Big Picture criticism of the MS is nothing to do with the refs--it is to do with the rules and the impact some of the rules have on the play of the game. I will cover this aspect in greater detail in a separate post.