Tuesday, July 16, 2013

(More) Hammer Time!

I can see I've got my work cut out for me on this one. It seems many of you have a difficult time even conceiving of rules and regulations as anything other than 'Crime & Punishment' writ small. And, as I've suggested already that's the first hurdle that must be overcome in order to rationally evaluate alternative ideas. That said, I appreciate all the efforts made in the related comments and I would encourage more of you to participate. Having an opinion isn't about being right or wrong but the more of y'all that contribute with more thoughts and ideas tossed into the mix the better.
Before I start offering rule change suggestions--that means at least one more Hammer Time is still to come--I'ma take a stab at the setting the table for the rest of you one more time. Before we even talk penalties let's look at the game for a minute. In its favor its a simple game. After dealing with basic safety, equipment, field dimensions and format pretty much all that's left is shoot people and don't get shot. Don't get me wrong, all those other elements that require some sorta rule or regulation aren't unimportant or a walk in the park to construct coherently--but they also mostly don't directly impact play of the game. Yes, there are some exceptions like gun rules regarding ROF and velocity but those can routinely be enforced.
Even so, the majority of penalties that attract attention and have the most impact are play of the game penalties related to being shot and eliminated. Even this wouldn't be a significant issue except flying paintballs don't always break. Which means that not every paintball that hits a player is necessarily a cause for elimination. Some bounce, some break. This is the source of most of the difficulties. This, and insufficiently well trained officials who fail to operate as a team at least as effectively as the players competing. I'm not, btw, slamming the refs. They can't do what they haven't been trained to do and we won't see consistency in the calls until all the refs on a given field are on the same page and oversight of officials is predicated on a philosophy of officiating. All things considered the Champions field refs are pretty decent but they won't get better and officiating in general won't get better just because we want it to. It will only happen when the league decides on a direction and begins to make the necessary effort.
Let's look at one scenario that is repeated dozens of times a tournament; bunkering a player in the snake, either down the wire or highway. The common result is both players are eliminated. Sometimes one of the  players also receives a penalty. Now we have a problem. The standard response is that it all happens so fast--and left unsaid is that it happens so fast we can't be expected to get it right--but when you start tossing yellow and red flags into that situation as often as not it simply compounds the unfairness instead of fixing any intentional rule breaking. Does throwing a flag then serve the intended purpose of maintaining game balance--or even punishing violators? I don't think so. It does however generate uncertainty and frustration. So why do teams keep making those plays? Because whatever the refs do it is often a tactical necessity.
Forget about penalties for a minute. What's it gonna take to make the game, competitive paintball, a better game?


Anonymous said...

If one of competitive paintball's biggest problems is poor or inconsistent reffing (considering that competitive paintball also includes the divisional ranks) then there is something that could help. Better communication between refs during play in the divisional ranks is totally needed. The Pro refs use radios to communicate, it would cost the league not that much to equip every referee with a walkie-talkie. this is easily one of the advantages the pro refs have and use decently enough to be better than the divisional refs.

Nick Brockdorff said...

What would make it a better game?

1. Simplify the rules and get rid of all the silly stuff that dates back to when we played in the woods (out of bounds, not being allowed to leave equipment behind, etc.).

2. Completely remove intent as a qualifier - except when it pertains to malicious intent.

As for your scenario, I do not see a way for the call to be made more accurately, unless we move into "football territory" with challenge flags, video re-plays and so on...

The problem will always be that any particular ref only has one angle of view, so any single ref will always (well almost always) be unable to accurately tell who was hit first.

The easy fix would be to never call penalties on run downs.... but that would have some fairly unwanted effects on the game, and get us back to where we were years ago, when cheating was far more rampant than today.

I will say though, that it seems spinning penalties are happening far too often these days, and regularly seem to be a case of a ref being overly zealous, so I find your example completely valid.

Grant said...

I think the one point everyone can agree on is that the current rules are far too complex and do not always fall into black and white interpretation by refs and players.

Penalties for playing on and spinning are 2 matters that need to be addressed because their interpretation by refs is far too inconsistent and you could even argue that the instances that they occur should be taken into consideration as well.

PbReplay said...

I think to get a better play the players need to accept the ref decitions without argue. Thats will make a better game for all.

Baca Loco said...

There is a fix and it isn't that hard. One afternoon working with regular refs to implement the system would easily get it started. Admittedly it would take some time and practice and a consistent crew would also be very helpful.

Anonymous said...

I've watched 6 or 7 matches from Sunday in Chicago and saw the snake side ref with profilers and a white backwards hat pull a major for spinning in almost every match AND PULL BOTH PLAYERS EVERY TIME. PLEASE SOMEONE FIX THIS.

Anonymous said...

Also not sure how much relevance this holds but I've played every PSP event since 2009 and every year at least once (usually several events) I end up in the same hotel as some of the refs. And wouldn't you know it, every night they would walk in through the lobby with cases on cases of beer. Real professional.

josh said...

I posted something similar to this on the last Hammertime post:

not for the webcast, for officials. put them in the tricky zones and have a small team of refs, perhaps a representative from each team (a sort of team lawyer)to examine play in real time.

this will provide definitive shots (or as close as we can get) of those tough calls and also give teams a "play review" option. Non calls are just as important as Wrong Calls

NickO said...

Have it so that penalties are awarded after the point.

Player 1 runs down Player 2 in the snake.
One or both players are shot.
The ref ensures both players walk.
The ref then calls up for a video replay decision to see whether either player should be penalised.
Should the video ref determine that an infraction occurred then the offending player is given a penalty either major or minor depending on the severity of the infraction.

There could be a couple of caveats to this: If the team is playing their final point to win the match and are given a penalty then they automatically lose the point. Likewise if both teams are in the final minute of the match then the offending team loses the point.

Given how quickly the replays can be shown on the web cast I don't think the technology is far off to enable this to occur. It should hopefully prevent the high stakes, high pressure decisions from occurring at the point when they are most likely to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to get old school ref positioning on us?

Head to head matchup like in the snake. As soon as a player gets hit, the ref runs into the stream to prevent possibility of further shooting/movement. The ref then checks the player who he was not watching. If that player is hit they are both eliminated. If that player is not hit, the further movement/shooting was prevented and a penalty never needed.

Sounds good on paper, but difficult to implement. And you'd need your refs to be dressed like baseball umpires...

Anonymous said...

"Also not sure how much relevance this holds but I've played every PSP event since 2009 and every year at least once (usually several events) I end up in the same hotel as some of the refs. And wouldn't you know it, every night they would walk in through the lobby with cases on cases of beer. Real professional."

I call bs on that.

Anonymous said...

Sounds true to me. After getting shot at all day, yelled at all day, sitting in the miserable sun on your feet all day, it makes perfect sense they'd want to go back to the hotel and unwind as quickly and easily as possible.

Would also explain why their judgement not only goes down throughout the event, but has gone down over time across years. Alcohol eventually takes its toll...

Missy Q said...

The refs like a beer, so do many of the players, and after a hard days action in the sun I would argue that they deserve it.
Are you seriously saying that the reffing is not as good as it could be because the refs have been known to drink alcohol in the evenings?
What about the guy that teaches your kids at school and goes home to have a couple of beers after work - should he lose his teaching licence, or just be put on some kind of 'list'?

Since when did Paintball become t-total, and what's next, the refs should take a quick prayer-break at the local church to ask your god for more wisdom or better judgement?

Climb down man, you'll get a nose-bleed up there.

Anonymous said...

On average, habitual alcohol use decreases performance for any task.
It's an observation, which should be undisputed, if not for people getting offended because they like to have fun/unwind, etc. (don't we all?)

But so-called adults should realize all our actions can bring about negative consequence over the long haul.

You don't have to be a church going teetotler to recognize that life is full of trade-offs and sometimes the things we like to do can have negative consequences in other areas...

"Mild-to-moderate drinking can adversely affect cognitive functioning (i.e., mental activities that involve acquiring, storing, retrieving, and using information). Persistent cognitive impairment can contribute to poor job performance in adult alcoholics, and can interfere with learning and academic achievement in adolescents with an established pattern of chronic heavy drinking."

That's not to say you should ban drinking Missy - your Euro-centric, and increasingly American bias totaletarianism is showing through.

But rather being aware of our limitations make better choices, and even more importantly recognize that the choices of individuals can have an effect on the game. So all the better to structure the rules and penalties to remove the ref from adversely affecting the game.

That appears to be the basis of this post -- the refs are becoming too much of a deciding factor in the games.

Get sidetracked on the pros & cons of alcohol and the fictitious desires of supposedly religious people all you want...

Baca Loco said...

230 pm anon
Absolutely .. not. I wouldn't make the refs do something I wouldn't do. :)

328 anon
It's not universal but there is a significant minority who burn the candle at both ends pretty hard at events.

Nick Brockdorff said...

LOL @ Missy - good one!

Paintball events are supposed to be fun, and at the extremely low pay refs get, I firmly believe they are entitled to have a few cold ones at the end of a days work.

Obviously they should not be getting roaring drunk, nor be under the influence while reffing.... but can we please keep the moral outrage to a minimum here and focus at the real problems?

Anonymous said...

Allowing penalties to be assessed after the point in which the penalty occurs adds an incentive for teams to cheat during late stages of a match. If there's 30 seconds left on the clock, and your team needs to score a point to win the match, and your team isn't going to be punished until the subsequent point (which won't happen if you win), 9 out of 10 players will play that competitive advantage and play on. While one could argue there's issues with the current reffing, changing those fundamentals create more problems than they solve.

Tiffany said...

Alright, challenge accepted. Change the entire scoring system. Here's a good reason why. The "let's make the scoring super simple" idea has run its course. Our game is played with a bit more than sticks on a frozen lake or any round ball that can be found and the scoring system doesn't need to resemble hockey or soccer with a penalty system to make up for it.

First, teams play matches. In each match there are multiple games. Drop the race aspect and keep the clock only. There is a match clock and a game clock. Say 2 - 3 min per game. You want to speed up play in matches, shorten the game clock.

Second, this is not a ball sport, the players provide the scoring tally. A team hangs the flag, they get 5 points (1 point for every opposing player beaten) plus 1 point for every live player.

Third, penalties. The flags can be kept, but not for pulling players. Eliminated players are sent off the field. Flags that are thrown for fouls are scored 1, 2 or 3 points etc.

A player with excessive fouls (4 - 5 points) will finish the match on the bench. A mercy rule to save paint and effort, say 1 team gets up by 50 ends the match. We lose the penalty box this way, the system is easy to score between points. Existing score boards from other sports can be used. Well, there's my half-baked idea.

Missy Q said...

My "Euro-centric, and increasingly American bias totaletarianism is showing through.".

While I understand the vocabulary in isolation, due to your sentence structure I'm not really sure of your meaning (but would be interested to know what you meant to say anyway...)

My point was that I doubt you can improve reffing at PSP events by trying to alter the social, extra-curricular behaviour of the staff involved. Better surely to apply specific training, focusing on the problem area (eg. tape-line trade-outs) in an attempt to create a more acceptable standard.
If a ref is deemed unfit to work his job because he is under the influence of alcohol he can be fired for that reason, but not simply because someone saw him drinking beer the night before.

In previous posts it was mostly agreed that the absence of/failure to replace an ultimate judge (Tony in this case) with an elevated overview, has had a detrimental effect on the judging. Would a good first step not be to re-instate this position? It seems logical. I'm reluctant to abandon the premise that Tony's departure and the recent inconsistencies in reffing are related.

Ken said...

I do like the idea of assessing penalties after the buzzer and not during the point. Let the game keep it's flow, change the results of the play after the fact, similar to football.

I think Tiffany is on to something, but I'm not sure we're ready to abandon the current simplified scoring of one point per flag. Especially under Baca's premise that this is a simple game, ergo scoring and infractions should be simple as well.

How about this for simple:
Any flag hang is nullified by the scoring teams fouls/infractions/penalties.

That may put a damper on blatant rule breaking. Keeps things simple. Doesn't solve Baca's scenario of the rundown. For that, I'm inclined to just pull both players, no penalties unless something wildly blatant happens like a 180 degree spin. I am on pins and needles to hear Baca's solution to this one though.

Missy Q said...

If we assess after the point, wouldn't we be going back to the days where there was a 20 minute argument after every point as the teams dispute any & all penalties? One thing I like about the penalty box system is that there is no room/time for dispute as the penalty was assessed already.
Perhaps the major could also come off the board if a team loses a point?
Maybe a major is 2 players in the box but for less time? Not sure if this would help much though..

I do like the idea someone had of penalties accruing to a match, or 3 point, suspension if specific players keep getting minor penalties. I would even be for the soccer method that takes the whole season into account. Get 2 minors in LA and a 3rd at the cup and you sit 3 points?

Ken said...

Well hell Missy, if I could solve all the problem's I'd dub myself a crazy cow and create a blog ;-)

NewPro said...

Wow, from a reffing/penalty discussion to the diagnosis of habitual/excessive drinking by employees who work for peanuts, take shit all day and are only congratulated by the winners. "over time there have been countless studies....blah, blah...jesus come on, reaching a little bit aren't we...they're not flying aircraft the next morning. I'm sure if a reff is staggering around the field come the event morning, he'd be asked to take a break.

Can we focus on the actual issue, which is how difficult it is to determine exactly who hit who first and how to allow non-offending player (who could have multiple hits on them as a result) remain in the game w/o actually stopping the game, rolling the video replay (see pipe dream), thus backing the entire schedule up if this is as rampant as we say it is.

OOOrrrrrrr, as some genius stated before, deter the actions with a strong enough punishment and the coaches/teams will correct themselves

Baca Loco said...

Outstanding! Finally, somebody who gets it. (Not to say the rest of y'all haven't but Tiffany is on target.) Just to be clear I'm not necessarily endoursing the ideas but I am 110% endoursing thinking outside the box in a constructive way.)


Nick Brockdorff said...

I think the penalty box system is actually an advantage, over what they do in the MS (straight 141).

It allows for the rules to state different penalty times for different offences..... while the straight 141 system is extremely rigid, and often the punishment is far harsher than the "crime" (especially since we are basically dishing out the same penalities in 5man, that were used in 10man, making them twice as hard).

What IS a problem though, is that the rules don't really do that enough currently.... I for one would like to see a 1 minute minor for minor infractions..... for instance playing on without firing your gun.

I maintain refs should not be asked to determine intent.... but the rules should be changed, so that we operate with 3 different penality types, instead of 2.

I do agree with Tiffany on one thing though:

That we should abandon the race-to format, and just do 15 minute matches, irrespective of the score.

It would allow for teams to play the points spread way better in the latter part of the prelims, and we would more often than not see (losing) teams play way more aggressively in the latter part of a match.

(that last part if ofcourse counterproductive to improving reffing, but it would be interesting to watch :D)

Slick said...

Just to throw in something totally from the dark side.

The field should be marked like a football field, with grids from 0 to 40 on each side meeting at a 50 line in the middle of the field. Points are assigned to each spread, (0-10 = 1 point, 10 to 20 = 2 points, etc.) If a team passes the 50 it is additional point scaling up the farther down the field they can make it. At the end of the timed event all players must stay at their location until their location is noted by an official for points scored, only live players are counted.

If they eliminate the other team they get set points that are worth more than what can be achieved by running the clock out. This would keep teams from hanging back and not advancing.

The number of plays left alive is worth 1 point each also and applies to any win (time or total elimination).

If a player commits a foul there are 2 penalties, 1 = the other team gets to move its farthest back play up to the next point line and receives the points from that line at the end of the match. 2 = Major penalties, player is removed from field until start of next match.

To top it off you have to bring the level of your ref's up to a professional level, they must attended an official training course and pass a competence test.

Just a rough frame work for a different system of play and score.