Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rules, Order & the UWL Banning

Once upon a time the rules of competitive paintball were as likely to serve the interests of the promoters as they were to provide a firm impartial framework to the game. Nowadays it is a far less common occurrence but vestiges of past poor practices remain. Like the way the open-ended (possibly temporary?) banning of a player from the UWL was handled--or not handled.

I kinda hate to do this 'cus I really like Tom Cole. He is legitimately one of the good guys in paintball. It's unfortunate that an incident at a recent UWL has become such big news--making it useful as an example. So keep in mind the takeaway isn't the UWL incident specifically, it's an opportunity to discuss ways to continue to improve the competitive game. (Even when they play in the woods.)

There's an enormous PBN Paintball News thread about the banning. If you haven't seen I'll save you the trouble. It is predominantly 12 pages and 250 comments mostly by peeps who know pretty much nothing about the actual situation. So pretty much the PBN norm. If you aren't familiar with the situation it seems that a player in the recently completed UWL event (in Utah?) wiped a hit and proceeded (at some level) to argue (the call?) (his intentions?) about something. Eventually Tom posted in the thread. The first was a minimally informative post confirming the open-ended player ban. The second included an additional detail or two.
Now here is where I have a problem. The UWL never made a formal league acknowledged statement. Still haven't. (Okay, maybe Tom thinks he did that in commenting in a PBN thread but that thread got started because there was only rumors floating around.) If the league intended to make a point about how the league intends to operate and its expectations for its players--which is at least implied in one of Tom's posts--it needs (and needed) to be stated unambiguously in a league press release.

EDIT: The above isn't completely accurate. Tom did post one of his PBN posted comments on the UWL Facebook page on May 4. When I looked for it prior to my original posting I didn't see it and subsequently had to change my Facebook settings before it "appeared." My apologies to Tom and the UWL for getting that wrong.

More fundamental is how the existing league rules were followed--or not. By UWL rule wiping is a 3-4-1. Which was apparently assessed. Initially in comments it was suggested an ensuing argument is what precipitated the banning but in Tom's second PBN post he writes "Cheating will get you banned in the UWL. If a players is caught intentionally breaking the rules he is not welcome back. Wiping, using a tool on the field to turn gun up, and other such offense will get a player and or team tossed."  All well and good except that's not in the rules. The only rule that allows some unspecified open-ended 'further penalty' is Unsportsmanlike Conduct. However nothing that we know happened fits any of listed unsportsmanlike conduct criteria.
I am not, btw, arguing the call or the banning or any part of that. I am saying that if this is league policy they [or any league for that matter] need to get out in front of situations like this and own their policy. And further that the rules are explicitly followed in the process. In part because that's the way it ought to handled and partly because competitive paintball has a shady history of doing the opposite and conducting unpleasant business in the shadows and frequently left unexplained.

I will have more on this topic next week.


Anonymous said...

They didn't make an announcement because it's like a secret publicity stunt. Its got nothing to do with tom losing g his temper on a jerk player.

Baca Loco said...

Interesting take.

Nick Brockdorff said...

If a player is banned in the woods - does it make a sound?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for touching on the woods.

I agree rules need to be consistent. Otherwise, it will look like favoritism the next time someone does something similar if they don't get banned.

Getting caught wiping in the woods needs to have harsh penalties. It is hard enough for the refs to see everything on the speedball field, they don't stand a chance to see half of the action in the woods.

Anonymous said...

" Wiping in the Woods "
Does that sound funny or is it just me?

Watch out for that Poison Ivy!

Anonymous said...

A few things are missing from the information posted here....

First- Tom Cole posted a Press release about this no the UWL Facebook page. Which I apologize does not specifically say "PRESS RELEASE" on it but point out the ban and a little blerp about it.

Second- It was not just a wiped hit. Coming from someone who was at the event. The player was banned for a wiped hit and also cheating in terms of playing on after being shot by walking to the other side of the field and pretending to reinsert into the game, mind you while Tom Cole is following said player across the field and watching his conduct. Once addressed as a 3 for 1 the said player continued to argue with Tom. He was not banned only for wiping. Wiping was the catalyst of his actions and reinserting braking both rules.

I don't understand why people feel they have a right to comment on things that they know nothing about. Comment when you have all the facts not just a partial truth. :)

Tom Cole said...

Baca makes a good point on official statements from the UWL and better clarification of rules. I will address those issues. It feels good to have the all seeing eye of VFTD on the UWL.

This brings up an interesting issue. Most stores and restaurants have a sign saying” right to refuse service” should the leagues have that right?

Tom Cole

Baca Loco said...

5:09 Anon
You are correct. Tom did post one of th two statements that appeared on PBN on the UWL Facebook page.
It was not visible to me on initial review and I had to change settings before I found it. I will edit the original post accordingly.

I wasn't and haven't commented on the banning BECAUSE I didn't have all the details. The point of the post was about the process. And the fact that without "the facts" nobody can form a valid opinion and that isn't good for Tom, the league or anybody else.

A gentleman and a scholar as always.

Of course you do. The rules, any rules, already provide limitations, exclusions and restrictions. Anything more is simply an extension of principles already in play. However, in our overly litigious society it would be a huge can of worms if ever taken to court.