Can't touch this. Just after PSP Chicago--and the parade of red flags (no, I don't have the numbers of penalty calls breakdown yet) you should recall a little post titled, Hammer Time, wherein I posited that a current area of weakness in the officiating process was a strong tendency by most (if not all) referees to view themselves as the police and all the players scampering around as criminals--and when the flags fly as something like justice being done.
This time around I'ma double down and suggest the next thing to consider is the penalties themselves. Where did they come from? And what makes the current penalties right (or most effective, etc.?) Since when have the rules enforced pulling players other than those responsible for the rules infraction? Since always except of course it hasn't been always. At least not in the case of Xball, Lite & Race To. But before that bodies were pulled for various infractions.
The rationale for pulling bodies is to a) sufficiently punish a team to send a message and deter another infraction, or b) to level the playing field of any advantage the team that broke the rules might have gained in the process. Or both.
How long ago were the 1-4-1, 2-4-1 and 3-4-1 penalties devised? In paintball years a long time ago. How many players did each team field? At least 10 and it may go back to the days of 15 players or even 20 players. (Before my time.) Let me now suggest there's a substantial difference in pulling 3 bodies when there are only 5 players on the field compared to 10 players. In essence we continue to use penalties designed for a different era and a different game that as a consequence have a much greater impact--dare I suggest far more punitive?--today than when first conceived. The same was true of the penalty box as well. Originally a major penalty was 5 minutes but a full match was 50 minutes. As the game time was reduced the penalty times weren't reduced commensurately--until some individuals who shall remain nameless began to suggest it was a necessary change.
The point is the game has carried along various conventions since its inception not necessarily because the original way was the best but because nobody gave much thought to accompanying changes until the need became obvious (to the peeps with the means to effect change.) And I think it's time to reevaluate the penalty system and consider bringing it into the 21st century.
While you're giving that some thought try this one on too. What other sport removes "innocent" players from the game for infractions committed by teammates? Or that have penalties so ill-defined that three different refs can make three different calls on the same play?
Okay, let's return to the rationale for pulling bodies in the first place. Deterrence to whatever degree it exists, exists only within the range of penalty call consistency. If there is no consistency there is no deterrence. And the idea that it's somehow "fair" to remove from the field of play 20 to 40% of a side's players without any real consideration for an actual advantage gained is preposterous. It's the easy excuse of someone unwilling to really consider what's good for the game and its players.
The basic game is pretty simple. Once you're willing to begin with the premise that the refs are there to simply enforce the rules and oversee a balanced game you may be ready to move to the next consideration. What sort of rules will best serve that purpose?
Cogitate on that for a while and next time I'll offer a few ideas on how the penalty structure could and should be changed.
UPDATE: Aight, kids. Maybe I was less than clear--or maybe you simply disagree. Part of the process of rethinking penalties is to first let go of the notion players must be punished. The rules define the limitations of the game and when those limits are exceeded players receive penalties. We're playing a game. Consider penalties in other sports and the way leagues, officials, players and spectators view playing their game. A player who fouls out of a basketball game isn't denounced as a cheater. Nor is a football lineman who risks a penalty by holding an opponent in order to protect his quarterback. And when penalties are dished out in hockey--the inspiration for elements of Xball--the player and only the player committing the penalty end up in the box. Can we get past the crime and punishment nonsense, please?