Monday, March 31, 2014

Crime & Punishment

This post is a continuation of the thoughts presented in 'The Problem with Referees is Penalties.' Just so we're clear. It is apparent (to me anyway) that the majority continue to see the game and penalties in particular as necessarily punitive and a deterrent to the overwhelming impulse of virtually every paintball player to cheat the game somehow someway every chance they get. While not a great surprise it's a hurdle that must be overcome. (Btw, thanks to all who chose to comment. 55 and counting and less than half of them are Brockdorf. Agree or disagree the dialogue is what counts.)

Let's look at the situations posed in the first post again.
1.  OTB a player runs upfield shooting his gun. Somewhere during the run he takes an obvious hit to a location that can't be seen unless or until he stops running and purposefully checks. The player runs to the X-side still shooting. There weren't any bunkers along his path and the run after the hit took maybe two seconds.
There was near universal agreement on this one. Throw the red flag! But what if he stopped shooting when he felt the possible hit but kept running until he reached his intended primary? On the run how fast is the player supposed to recognize the potential hit and alter his actions--and is it okay or not okay to proceed to his primary before he checks? Is he just an elimination now or does some penalty still apply?
Or, what if he does exactly as in scenario one but upon reaching his primary checks himself and raises a hand and leaves the field?

2.  A D-wire player has a pack hit on the inside where the ref on the wire can't see it. The player makes a move to run down an opponent and shoots him, then drops into the next bunker at which point the ref sees the pack hit.
I confess the mixed response here was a bit confusing. It was the only scenario in which an opponent was actually eliminated by a hit player--and yet a strong minority favored a minor penalty. I think the distinction many made was that the player in this scenario had an unobvious hit--and for deterrence to be effective it has to deter intentional acts. But what about the level playing field? What about fairness? Game balance?

3.  A player takes the snake OTB but takes a clean hit the sideline ref sees. When the player dives into the snake he doesn't stop at the first knuckle instead he crawls as fast as he can to the fifty.
And upon reaching the fifty he checks himself, finds the hit and raises his hand. Still a penalty? When does the ref throw the flag? Or what if the ref who saw the hit immediately follows the player and finally gets his attention when he's done crawling. If the ref simply eliminates the player where's the harm? Did the action of possibly drawing the opposition's attention for an extra couple of seconds really merit the red flag most were prepared to throw?

4.  Still in the snake a player is tucked in taking some heat. Suddenly he gets tattooed in the back and spins then shoots. Even Stevie Wonder couldn't get this call wrong it is so blatantly obvious what happened and when.
It was so obvious everyone was ready to throw the red flag but it was also so obvious it would have also been as easily ignored too. What if the ref simply pulled the eliminated snake player and wiped off the other player and let the point continue to play out? Do you make a call anyway because the only way for that particular point to be played fairly is to penalize the spinner or does the spinner get a penalty only because you hope to keep the next guy from spinning?

Today we have basically two penalties; a minor and a major. In divisional we always pull bodies. We pull bodies in part because for as long as most can remember that's what you do to penalize a team when their player breaks a rule. But imagine calling today's major back in 10-man days--you'd have to pull 4 bodies to make the penalties equivalent. Our current situation is we play a game that has changed in many dramatic ways while we rely on clumsier less refined versions of yesterday's penalties to define that game. Isn't it possible there's a better way?


Nick Brockdorff said...

In fairness, the 141 call did not exist in 10 man.

To my knowledge, the MS invented it for the 7 man format.

As such, if you subscribe to the view it was a balanced punishment in 7 man, it is a bit harsh in 5 man, but what do we do? - call a 1-4-0.7?

Also, the game is significantly faster in the current format, and as such one might very well think the added harshness to the penalties is needed as a deterrent, because it is harder for refs to catch rulebreaks.

All that having been said, the best solution someone posted in the other thread, was "1 ref per player"... as it would go a very long way in eliminating most problems.

That then 2-4 refs will have very little to do in many points, because "their players" are eliminated early, is fine by me - the poor guys need a break anyway - reffing is hard work if done well.

Anonymous said...

Nick probably made the other half of the anonymous comments. I should know, he's my alternate ego.

bigbob21 said...

I'm interested in everyone's opinions for scenario 4...

I reffed the 50 snake area at a regional college tourny this weekend. Similar situation to scenario 4: Player A (left hand side of the field) timed it right and bunkered out player B (right hand side) who was shooting inside, right handed, toward's dorrito side.
After being shot in the face/upper body area with a couple, player B reacted pretty harshly and turned his gun from inside, under his body and shot player A in the shoulder and pack as he slide by... Player B did not turn to face him, it was more of a reaction to the crowd/pain/etc...

I wiped player A off and let the point continue because I felt that Player B did not spin, per say, and only managed to hit him two times if I remember correctly. Needless to say player B was upset, with about a 50-50, for and against reaction from the crowd, haha.

What would you guys have done?

Joshua W. said...

It seems like the problem then is that there is no generally accepted reason for a penalty, to balance or to deter. I just kinda skimmed the comments from the last post so it might have already been said but that seems like the first challenge. Is it delineated in the rulebook? If not that could be a start. But it seems that a player who is pulled usually sees a penalty as being a punishment instead of simply, hey, you got hit and we're trying to take this back to a fair game.

splatkid10 said...

Looking at other sports should indicate how penalties should be enforced, but in almost all other sports, the game stops for the "punishment" to be enacted. The only time it doesn't is when the play can be run out to see if the opposing team still may benefit from the game continuing...think the advantage call in soccer, or how a holding penalty doesn't stop a football play because what if there's a fumble and the defense recovers? In basketball, even after a hack we still wait and see if the ball goes in. Baseball...well I think it's self explanatory. Finally, hockey, where the paintball pro penalty format seem to come from....the game doesn't stop until the team committing the penalty touches the puck again.

The point of all that is in paintball, the point continues throughout the penalty making it difficult to assess a penalty. Think about this one that happened at last weekend's WCPPL to a team. The buzzer on the field was incredibly quiet, and as a result one player left early when the clock hit 0 and didn't wait for a buzzer. All other 9 players took off a second or so after him. The player that left early shot 3 players on the opposing team still at the start box immediately. He was at the snake side temple (think Dallas) before anyone else had taken a step off the gate. The refs threw a major and pulled 3 players on the team that started early. Yet, by the time they had all been pulled they had shot another player OTB on the d-side leaving a 2 on 1. The penalty system was unable to make this situation fair, partially because on the field there's about 150' between the player shooting and the 3 that were shot, how does a ref on the far end know to leave someone in like that?

The team that cheated won the point because the penalty and reffing system was not capable of effectively eliminating 3 players quick enough and restoring the "life" to the 3 eliminated players.

Anyway, enough rambling for now, nothing in that was very coherent.

Mike said...

I'm eaerly anticipating you're suggestions for changes haha... Good series of posts here.

Anonymous said...

Scenario 4 brings up an interesting punishment vs. balancing dilemma. Say that the goal is balancing: the spinner (A) gets pulled off and the guy that hit him (B) is wiped off. Someone gaming the rules would instruct their team to ALWAYS spin and shoot at the other guy. Why? Well worst case scenario, A is pulled off and B stays. You will always gain a slight advantage over not spinning since you'll slow B down a little bit when the ref wipes him.

Anonymous said...

@1:11 PM:

And sometimes you'll get the bonus that the ref will pull both of you.

You can't structure intentional penalties to merely balance. A penalty that results in balance when called means the player should always commit the infraction and hope they don't get the penalty.

You also can't deter unintentional infractions, so balance works just fine there.

Anonymous said...

Just curious how behavior would change if every time a ref saw an infraction or potential infraction they blew a whistle and stopped the game and assessed a penalty. We'd say it's jarring for a spectator, but the fluidity of basketball is also jarred by game stops - and sometimes penalties are committed for that reason. Why not stop the game (everyone freeze) and eject players who get too many penalties in a game/tournament. It removes the possibility of frequent strategic penalties and also ensures players on the edge lean in the direction of playing fair rather than playing the gray area.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried to get 10 people spread over 18,000 square feet to freeze?

Even getting all players on a paintball field to just stop playing when the point/match is over can be a problem.

In sports that stop play to assess penalties, position of the players doesn't matter, just the ball. So if the ref blows the whistle in basketball, players can be wherever they want when play restarts (or in the case of shooting fouls, where they have to be is the same every time regardless of where they were.) Same with soccer, same with football.

Baca Loco said...

That exact situation is one of the items I took away from Dallas. And how to handle it is under consideration.

Thanks, some good stuff here.

Patrick Smith said...


Not wanting to absolutely dump on this thread, I used this discussion as inspiration for my own blog post.

Splatkid brings up a great point about most other game play formats assess penalties after the play has concluded. When I was working on the NPL rulebook we did something similar which I wrote about in the post.

From practice, I know the assess after the play type system can be implemented in paintball and eliminates many of these issues. More details in the post.

Love this discussion. Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

If pack hits are problematic, make them not count at all. Have a designated color for packs (and limit the size). If hit in the designated area, player is still live. This is balanced. It does not rely on a ref noticing the hit. It reduces the chance of someone unintentionally playing on and going on to eliminate people before the hit is noticed.

Anonymous said...

Or play hopper ball, no packs allowed.

Baca Loco said...

114 Anon
Fascinating idea.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Fascinating is a good word to describe the idea........ same with the idea to have breaks in the game for penalties.

Pete said...

There's precedent for the pack hits, like hitting below the belt in boxing for instance.

Pat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick Smith said...


How is below the belt hits in boxing precedent for the pack hits idea?

Wasn't the purpose of below the belt hits being banned, a safety issue? I'm really curious about this.


This works for clearly in the pack hits. But won't this open a new pandora's box of issues with subjective decisions regarding boundary hits? What happens when a hit impacts half on half off the pack? 20/80 off on? The ref still has the unenviable position of making the subject call.

What about when players start wearing their packs askew to block areas that normally get hit? Or spin away from bunkering to try and get shot only in the pack?

Pete said...

I meant for size/shape of the pack, like the boundary for boxing. However any and all physical sports will boil down to judgement calls by the referee. The definitions used to make those judgements are at issue.

lee woo said...

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