Thursday, March 20, 2014

Post PSP Dallas Report 2

In the past my interest in, and association with, reffing a tournament was purely intellectual. It revolved around the rulebook, the perfect outcome and the imperfect reality and where and how to make improvements that resulted in providing the best competitive environment possible. In actuality there's a lot of dirt under the fingernails kinda work that is necessary to make the system work--and that's what this post is about. Mostly.
There were also a couple of under the radar changes I thought I'd mention because (frankly) I thought at least one of them portended problems. Perhaps the highest profile change--at least for the players--was the introduction of player ID readers used by security to regulate access to the various fields pits. Yes a few peeps still managed to dodge the security effort and some cards were (apparently) routinely rejected but for a first time effort things went amazingly well. I even got checked--when I wasn't driving my golf cart--despite wearing my official PSP shirt. (If you can sneak a golf cart onto the venue one of those bad boys will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go.)
One of the big operational decisions made last year (far as I know) was to bring the complete operation of an event in house. That meant taking control of the pressurized hose system used to spray bunkers clean of paint and in a much bigger move the league also spent an enormous amount of jack to build and run their own air system. (The league's ability to deliver high pressure air was tested at the last Cup using the Champs & Challengers fields as the guinea pigs. It was not a rousing success--which led to my (privately held) concerns that maybe it was too big a project and maybe needed to be done gradually. Well, au contraire as it turned out. Except for some incompatible fill nipples the whole thing ran like clockwork across eight fields of play.
Which brings me to the wild world of wrangling referees. (It's similar to herding cats.) As a practical matter there were nearly 90 refs (including scorekeepers) to account for which included rides as needed to and from the airports. (I finished my last airport run Sunday night at 7am Monday morning.) All the refs need field assignments and jerseys. (They need to be registered as well but we're doing so cool new things along those lines. More about that stuff another time.) Each field has an allotment of gear from scoreboards and cables to squeegees and rakes and chronos--oh my. Then there are computers and radios and batteries and pre-event set-up and operational checks to make sure everything is working. Before each event all the ref related gear is unpacked, placed in field kits, set-up and wired into the system, etc. And when the event is over its all taken down and collected and repacked and wrapped on pallets ready to take the trip to the next venue. And in-between there are lunches to be organized and delivered, breakdowns, on field issues and the unexpected. (I made runs for extra batteries twice--around $200 bucks worth plus a new horn when one failed on pre-check.) Added to that the refs gotta be paid plus everything accounted for and it turns out there are quite enough odds and ends demanding attention to stay busy.
Beside the on site routine work required I brought home a list of 14 items related to the rules or officiating choices made during the event that require further review (and hopefully resolution) prior to MAO. No game changers, mostly just detail kinda stuff. (I'll be posting about one of them over the weekend in a Mailbag post.)
It's a bit of an eye-opener to see the tourney experience from the other side but the one thing I can conclusively say all things considered it's more fun to play.
I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who took a moment during the event to contribute to the process. Lots of folks across the divisions had helpful things to say and I appreciate everyone taking the time to pass the kind word, the appropriate criticism or thoughtful comment about how the various fields were functioning. I would also encourage anyone attending a PSP event to feel free to stop me anytime and let me know what you think. (Or drop me a line any other time as well.) A broad spectrum of feedback is an essential element in helping us do the best job possible.
Tomorrow, let's talk layout.


Michael Brozak said...

Paul - Do you ever see instant replay or coach / pit challenges coming into play one day?

Baca Loco said...

Never say never Mike but certainly not anytime in the near future. I think it would be more hindrance than help.
I'll give you an example. I was watching webcast Friday looking for a particular incident and saw a different play and ref's call I thought was suspect. Next day I heard from the player who readily admitted the penalty was his fault and deserved. Was it the camera angle or something else I didn't see?

Anonymous said...

Paul - what with how close Oliver Lang was to the time limit on his flag hang for their one match, do think a buzzer linked to the game clock (aka similar to Millenium) is a better option? To me, the buzzer seems like a better option as even experienced veterans (ie. Ryan Greenspan) have said in the PBAccess podcasts that they're not entirely sure of the rules governing flag "nuances."

I'm grateful for the behind the scenes posts like this. Everybody gets to see the "show." The support "cast" is often overlooked, unfortunately, even though without them none of it would be possible.

Baca Loco said...

That is one of the issues on my post-event list to look into. We start on the horn, not the clock so why do we end on the clock--particularly if there is time left (and there is)--and not the horn? I'm not advocating one or the other but think we need to be consistent.

Missy Q said...

Someone, at some point, has messed with the bull.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Buzzers IMHO is a better option.

It also creates an extra element to the game in 1 on 1s, where you don't need to go to the centre to get the flag, but can instead edge your way closer to the opponents buzzer.

It makes it harder to play a 1 on 1 defensively, which is a big advantage.

You DO need a system however, that allows you to see which buzzer was pressed first and if it was within regulation time, and often in the MS you see opposing players sprinting for the buzzer simultaneously.

Their system (last I checked) only stops the time, it does not allow them to see which buzzer was pressed first in close calls.

Fullbore said...

Nick, I'm pretty sure the new scoreboard system/software installed last year at the MS does differentiate which buzzer was hit, or in the situation you are describing, which one first and if in game time or not. I'm sure Ulrich explained it all to me, or was it one of those Utopian dreams I had (and if so, what was Ulrich doing in it ;) ).

Nick Brockdorff said...

Dreaming of Ulrich? - Dude! - See your therapist.... NOW

Fullbore said...

Yeah, I've worried myself! ;)