Friday, April 6, 2012

MS St. Tropez-Cannes Open: The Venue & Event, part 2

The matches play to the schedule aided by the field design and the tendency of the Eurokids to play a style of paintball I'm guessing they think mimics aggressive American paintball. In general it's more like inexperienced D4 kids running down the field after a kill or two than a well schooled D1 or professional team. (More later.) That isn't of course universally true but suggests that while the European players have high standards of technical proficiency--and many do--that there generally remains a disconnect between individual player ability and cohesive team or line play. (I only saw SPL & CPL play, too.) Throw into the mix the style of reffing and the result makes for some entertaining (if you're not playing) quasi-paintball action much of the time.
The Eurokids have adopted reffing policies of near or zero tolerance and claim to be convinced that the result is both fairer and better for the game. While I am all for refs both knowing the rules and applying them to the game(s) being played strictness isn't synonymous with consistent. The hallmark of a truly professional reffing corps is consistency. And that level of consistency was not on display. (Yes, I know the Eurokids pride themselves on their officiating prowess but for as long as I've been in this game that pride has more often than not been taken in the absence of such claims than in its presence. And that ain't gonna win me any friends.)
Consequently the combination of 3 prelim matches, a lack of coordinated team play and zealous if inconsistent officiating frequently turns what ought to be competitions won or lost on the field into something less than that--and it's too bad given how many things the MS seems to otherwise be doing well.
One of the MS board members suggested to me there were high hopes of returning to the venue next year given the time & effort put into preparing the site. Of course he also suggested that when the site had originally been scouted the wily French had fooled them by showing them accommodations other than those many if not most of the attendees stayed in. Which seems only fair--if you choose to believe it--as the MS fooled us into believing we'd be playing on the Cote d'Azur--which, in a nominal sense we were but about as far from a Malaga type venue as Provence offers.
In fairness to the MS it didn't seem like most of the participants had any issues with the venue or accommodations--but then I don't speak any of the myriad "foreign" languages in evidence either. And I suspect those with the ability to do so made alternative arrangements well in advance already being well-schooled in what to likely expect. For us it was a first time experience with a sometime steep learning curve. Live and learn. Beyond that the differences weren't profound. The language was sometimes a struggle. As was the fact the whole society seems to operate at a much more relaxed pace, shall we say. And apparently there is no word in French for customer service, only a Gallic shrug (or sneer) and an attitude like they are doing you a favor by taking your money. And by our standards a lot of it--money, that is. Europe is--newsflash--expensive. (That of course isn't the Millennium's fault.)
On the scale of those who once rated venues by their parking lot proximity to sporting monuments or the latest "Growing the Game" metric the St. Tropez-Cannes venue was definitely lacking. By the standards of cash-strapped, winter-bound Europeans getting a head start on Spring, perhaps not. While the Cote d'Azur has the potential to offer MS participants an HB-like experience this venue was not it and never will be.

8 comments:

Nick Brockdorff said...

I find your comments on reffing interesting.

It's not that I disagree entirely, I just want to understand better where you are coming from (and yes, I know you can't be too honest, seeing as you are facing those refs 3 more times this year ;))

You mention consistency as the hallmark of a great reffing team, and I find that an odd yardstick.

It seems like you are saying it's better to be consistently bad, than having flashes of brilliance?

I get that if a team has a strategy of always quickly discerning the harshness of the reffing crew, and then play right to that limit, what you say makes sense.

But, from an organiser standpoint, if your reffing crew is consistent, but bad, you get a lot of cheating... while if they are less consistently bad, and thus sometimes do good.... the overall result should be that teams are kept more honest.

- and yes, quite obviously the object should be to have refs that are both consistent and good... but from what you write, that is not really happening anytime soon.

As for your remarks on playing style, I completely agree that Euro teams play faster, and way less coordinated paintball.

What little Pro games I got to watch in St. Tropez, still left me with the impression that Euro teams would get up on bodies or take ground fast, and then run senselessly into guns waiting to pick them off, and losing them the advantage gained.

But, I am wondering, if that speed of play will eventually be a winning method, once experience enforces the team aspects of the game, down the road?

In this ever evolving sport, I find that kind of thing very interesting to debate...

Baca Loco said...

Nick
Okay, you don't like the term consistent. Conceptually separate yourself from paintball and it's rules. Consider games with rules generically and answer the question, "What is the key quality rules enforcement must have to produce a fair competition?" And you can't say good unless you're prepared to define good--and that definition will point you in the direction of what I'n getting at.

With regards to officiating in general I think a lot of progress has been made in recent years even if it isn't always demonstrated on the field. And dedicated trained crews are the foundation of all future improvements. Now that I think about it the Euro reffing mimics in some ways the Euro playing. I'll have to spend some more time considering that.

There is no doubt in my mind that speed kils--and has the potential to be a dominating style of play.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, it depends what you mean by consistent.

If you mean consistent, as in unbiassed, I agree completely.... fair competition relies heavily on reffing being unbiassed.... and I also understand why it would be impossible for you to publicly call out the refs for being biassed.

However, if you mean consistent, as in minute to minute or game to game consistency (for lack of a better way of putting it), then I disagree.

Players of any sport, will routinely operate from a mental cost/benefit analysis - as long as them bending/breaking rules is a net benefit to the team, they will do it.... but if there is a more than a 50 % chance of damaging the team, they will not.

So, in my view, erratic reffing (if that is what you mean by inconsistent?), will see participants operate with a greater appreciation of the rules of play, to ensure against damaging their team.

And yes.... erratic reffing also leads to odd game results at times, but if the alternative is consistent low quality reffing, leading to the "dirtiest" teams winning, I prefer the former.

I DO agree 3 prelims games then becomes more of an issue, and I would prefer to see the Pro division play more games, for instance increasing the division to 18 and playing 5 prelim games.

Btw, one might also make the case that is is easier to weed out occasional mistakes, than to generally lift the level of officiating?

Baca Loco said...

Nick
It is always a pleasure to chat. I meant precisely what I said in this context. When I get around to our St. Tropez experience I'll have more and other things to say but the point here isn't to either avoid or whitewash anything--and it isn't to color a general observation with a specific experience.
My basic point here is that the rules have nothing to do with their enforcement.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I'd love to hear some exambles, because obviously it is hard to judge, when you have written the article in such a vague language ;)

Baca Loco said...

You're being lazy and you're looking for something that isn't there.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Not at all, I am just curious as to what "consistency" you thought was lacking - because a fresh perspective is always interesting..... I am not trying to be adverse.

Anonymous said...

Dude, just look up the meaning for 'consistent' in the dictionary. It's ok that English isn't your first language, but once you understand what the word 'consistent' means, you must, surely, be able to understand the meaning of the rest of the post, and that (mercifully) would enable you to stop blathering on...