Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hammer Time! (One Last Time)

Don't think this is really the last VFTD post on officiating 'cus you know I'll just change the post title next time I want to talk about reffing. And it will come up again sometime unless of course you all do as I say. (Cue maniacal laughter.) But seriously ...
I'ma suggest two options today; Reform Lite & the Overhaul. Personally I prefer the Overhaul (because I'm a forward thinking kinda guy) and I think it would improve the game and ultimately be easier to officiate but in the meantime there are a couple of less radical alternatives that I am hopeful would go a long way to providing greater consistency in the on field calls.
Truth be told there's actually Reform Lite and Reform Ultralite. What it amounts to is a handful of rules for refs that are introduced across the board to all of a league's refs along with a new scheme for dealing with fast aggressive action, mostly on the wires. It wouldn't change the basic rules as they exist today. It might change the number of refs per field (but "might" only because I don't know how many are normally on divisional fields.) I imagine a work around would be possible. The goal of ref reform is to achieve improved consistency and greater uniformity of process across all the event fields. Consider it a step in the right direction.
Reform Ultralite is very very simple. It's a single rule (or guideline) that states all referees will always default to throwing a yellow flag unless a red flag is unequivocally the correct call. Which means only throw the red when there is no doubt that it's the correct call by existing rule and if you have any doubt throw the yellow instead. But, but, but--no buts.
The Overhaul isn't really much more difficult than than Reform Lite except it would require everyone, refs, players and spectators to assimilate change and of course would require reconciliation of the rule book. (I am not, btw, locked into this particular formula as I believe there are lots of so far unconsidered and unexplored alternatives. This is just what I have to propose right now.)
Two things first; it's my opinion there are two kinds of refs on most fields. The kind who feel like they have to throw more flags to maintain control and those who sometimes hesitate because maybe the "crime" doesn't fit the penalty. The other thing is the range of penalty effects is very narrow (you're out and so is that guy and maybe that other guy) whereas the potential range of a violation's impact on the game is pretty broad. So on the one hand the refs are limited in what they can call and in my estimation the penalty doesn't always fit the "crime." Part of the Overhaul is to even out that imbalance.
Here's the concept. We can debate the details in the comments. The refs keep their flags and the penalties as called now remain (for the most part.) The refs get one extra flag, a black one and to make this work at the divisional level each field gets two extra folding chairs.
In the pro game any player cited for a penalty goes immediately to the box to serve the time and the scorekeeper assigns x number of demerits depending on the flag color; a yellow is one demerit and a red flag is 3 and a black flag is 5 and after x number of demerits the player serves an automatic match suspension at which point the player's demerits reset at 0 but if they reach match suspension level a second time in the same season the suspension becomes and event suspension. The black flag is for the rare gross penalty but given the changes to the penalty structure it would also allow for finer distinctions to be made, for example, wiping might become a black flag offense. [Given that divisional play lacks a penalty box and that most teams do not play a full season a simple alternative is required. Any player receiving a penalty is immediately eliminated and proceeds directly to one of the extra folding chairs next to the scorekeeper's tent. The scorekeeper only needs to note the color of the flag and the point during which the flag was thrown. If yellow, for example, the penalized player must remain in the penalty chair for his/her team's next point before being allowed to return to the pit. If a red flag then for two points after the penalty was called. This way the individual penalized pays the price. (And the option remains to have the penalized team start down a body or split the difference with a yellow flag not affecting the team and a red means the team starts down one the next point. Regardless more flexibility exists under the 'penalty chair' system.)]
Now I still think the refs tend to throw too many reds and are too inconsistent when it comes to routine calls but the changes suggested tend to minimize in game impact while remaining an increasing deterrent to the individual player (as the demerit total gets closer and closer to suspension.) And it would keep the refs from running around to grab extra bodies and allow play to continue with minimal interruption. The structural changes alone aren't sufficient though and every reasonable effort to improve the reffing crew's consistency remains a priority.
There you go. The demerit (or 'penalty chair') system can be implemented almost overnight without disrupting any major element of the Race To format--the largest obstacle would be re-writing the damn rule book again.


plovell said...

I really enjoy the idea of the Overhaul plan. Punish the player, don't screw the team.

Off topic: Are you planning on doing a field analysis for the chicago layout?

Nick Brockdorff said...

Demerits would have to be carried over from event to event - otherwise people would be getting a "get out of jail free card" in every finals game.

I like it - it is not unlike the basketball like thing I suggested earlier, as well as including a 3rd tier of penalties, which I also suggested..... damn - I must be a genius :P

Only problem I see, is how to communicate clearly to the teams playing, who has how many demerits at any given point in time..... so that pit coaches can make informed decisions.

It would require a damn large (and expensive) scoreboard, to have both teams complete roster up there, and being prepared for every team in any division playing the field, during the weekend....

Nick Brockdorff said...

... could be done with just players numbers I guess...

"professionals talk logistics" indeed ;)

Baca Loco said...

Probably not but if you have specific questions I'll be happy to address them.

PBA stats already track penalties by player so the info is already available.

Slick said...

I like the demerit (or 'penalty chair') system as it goes back to "Personal Accountability" and places the penalty on the player not the team. with this system I would not penalize the team with a body down on the next point unless it was a gross violation. At this point the team also needs to deal with the player.

Reiner Schafer said...

Would punishing the player and not the team give a coach an opening to sacrifice a player for the good of the team? I guess if the demerits got carried over to the next event, there would be limits on that, but it still might be worthwhile to sacrifice a weaker player on the team if there was a major point on the line. Not saying it's a bad idea, just not wanting to open up another new can of worms.

Nick Brockdorff said...


What I mean is, that for the system to work, the players and coaches have to know during the game, who have what demerits.... not to mention the refs (and spectators).

Teams need to know what players they can field, and at what risk, at the top of every turnover, otherwise this will result in chaos.

So my point is that the scoreboard has to communicate this clearly - or some other method has to be implemented.... I do not believe you have access to the PBA penalty stats live, during games - right? :)

Also, deterrence is a big part of this, and if you don't know how many demerit point you have racked up, you have no incentive to change your behaviour (during a match).

Nick Brockdorff said...

I envision a Rollerball (1975) type scoreboard, where players "lights" go out as they are DQd from the game..... last man standing wins :P

Baca Loco said...

On site PBA stats guys can pass along latest match info but I don't really see it as a necessity. If, as coach, I go into an new event or even a match without keeping track then I'm derelict in doing my job--and depending on how many points earn a suspension I don't see it as any great stretch for the players to know where they stand.

You're presuming some intentional penalty taking is guaranteed to accomplish a desired purpose.

JohnnyLaw said...

I think we are going too far off the ranch by adding the chair of shame. Why not just keep it simple?
Go back to what worked. A 12 minute timed game, team with the most points at the end of time wins, mercy rule if one team is 5 points ahead for more that 2 points, timed penalties, 30 secs for a minor, 90 secs for a major. The offender is eliminated and one buddy is sent to the box to serve the time.

Baca Loco said...

Which would be fine after a fashion for divisional but ignores a number of realities. Divisional isn't going to get penalty boxes back, or the extra refs or the more expensive scoreboard or even the run to time match length in all likelihood.
Besides, what's so shaming about the chair? The point is it's simple, easy to regulate, could be incorporated tomorrow by the PSP and goes at least part of the way toward letting teams play while still controlling the game.

Ferrari said...

How about a hybriad option of still allowing "extra bodies" to be pulled off, but not impacting other players game time. Say I receive a major penalty (worth two sat points on your yellow,red,black and penalty chair concept). As opposed to pulling off extra bodies at that point, I sit on the chair while the team plays the next two points a man down. (I have forfeited my chance to participate in the game)Once those two points are up, we can play with five (regardless of who now takes the field)

Baca Loco said...

Sure, Ferrari, but why? Does the whole team need to be penalized in your estimation?
Do you think it is an insufficient deterrent to the player who misses out?
Right now in PSP divisional if a player gets a red he and two teammates are pulled--and the player who committed the penalty can play the next point.
In the chair system that player is removed when the penalty is called and misses the next two points. Which one is the greater deterrent?