Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Problem with Referees is Penalties

Okay, now that the intentionally provocative title has lured you in you might as well hang around and toss in your two cents. I'll be straight with y'all. I'm looking for 100 comments to this post. One, I think the topic merits the conversation and two, I think if you think about it for a minute or two you just might have something to say. (Besides, I'ma do my best to provoke you.) And yes, we're talking not so much about refs as we are penalties. We'll do refs another time but as long as they are motivated and reasonably well prepared refs aren't the problem with competitive paintball. It's the penalties.
Okay, I know I'm freaking some of you out. Sit down and breath into a paper bag. I don't know if it helps but it'll give you something to do until you can see straight again. Better? Good. Let's continue.
All I'm going to do is describe four fairly common situations which generally receive the same penalty and when I'm done I intend to leave it to you to either justify the penalties in one or more of the scenarios--or not. But if not, then what?
But before I get to the 4 scenarios a quick reminder: What is the purpose of calling a penalty in the first place? Is it to maintain a level playing field? To deter future actions? Or penalize the team and player that acted outside the limitations imposed by the rules?

Here we go. 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.
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.
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.
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.

Odds are better than even money all those players got a major penalty called on them. (Not always but that just makes it more infuriating, right?) In divisional RaceTo that means the offending player plus two more live bodies get yanked. On the Pro field it's one extra body who spends the next two minutes of match time in the penalty box regardless of points scored. So, are all those scenarios equivalent? Are all those calls appropriate? Why or why not?


Anonymous said...

I'm a pro player, and I swear sometimes that the guys calling all the shots industry wide that have a stake in the psp are sitting in a dark room watching the webcast, sipping their alcohol with a phone, calling in whatever team the refs should go hunting for. I could write a book for all the penalties that weren't handled properly. What really gets me is when a player should be getting a penalty, whatever the cause, but simply instead gets called out by name from the ref. "Hey Chad you're out" instead of that minor for playing with a pack hit.
Or my favorite, when a group of referees surrounds the soon to be flag hanger when it's clear he has a hit on his pack just to let him hang the flag dirty.

Cade said...

Oh Boy, Here we go... Are you asking that the commenters start with their reffing experience in years?

Anonymous said...

drop the red flag

Ryan said...

All the scenarios are equal in my eyes. Making a huge run up to the X, or trying to crawl up to the 50 OTB are both risky moves. If you take the hit during the moves and continue to 'play' you're compounding the risk with a possible major. But the potential reward of field position/elimination is great.

The pack hit is the most difficult of the four calls. But still warrants a major.

Anonymous said...

X Guy: If it's obvious and you continue to play its a no brainer major. He continues to actively engage the opposition therefore changing the game.

D side pack hit guy: Although it sucks a ref should have seen the hit earlier he has now eliminated a player that could have closed out the game if ther ef had seen it earlier. It sucks when it happens but it's only fair.

Non stop snake guy: We've all seen it, hell, most of us have probably done it. Take a hit and slide it off. Easy to dispute because usually it's all gone. It's the same as the X guy running to the x shooting with a hit.

Spin guy: If you spin that bad you are attempting to play while eliminated, no better than the snake crawler or x runner.

All the penalties here I believe warrant a major. You have changed the flow of the game or are attempting to change the flow of the game while eliminated.

Anonymous said...

The 2nd situation should be a yellow flag (unobvious hits are minors), so if refs are pulling a major for it they're screwing up.

The rest of them are all the same situation: The player got hit and the player decided to keep playing instead of checking / calling themselves out.

One might argue that continuing to play for another two seconds isn't enough of an impact on the game to warrant a major penalty, but the player running up to the X who gets hit and keeps shooting anyway must disagree, since they chose to keep shooting.

The reason playing on with an obvious is a major is that even though sometimes it doesn't really affect the game, sometimes it REALLY DOES affect the game, and it's not often obvious which situation you're in.

My personal pet peeve is minor penalties called within the first 10-15 seconds or so of the point. If you're finding an unobvious hit then, you know when the player got it, and should just pull them from the field.

Baca Loco said...

Peeps, I'm not disputing the calls. I'm using the scenarios purposefully to illustrate something about the play of the game. Y'all are answering the party line answer--yes, the calls are deserved. I know by current rule they are deserved. My question is are they fair? Do they provide the so-called level playing field or are you deterring future actions or what?

Anonymous said...

#1, #3 and #4 are certainly fair. If the player didn't want the major, they should have checked/called themselves out.

It certainly isn't fair when you shoot a player and they keep playing anyway.

#2 a major isn't fair. No amount of deterrence is going to stop a player from unintentionally doing something.

John said...

Majors in divisional play need some adjustment, Ive only been playing 5 years or so.
Heres my take
1st scenario: in a pro game, you get a major for that guy goes to the box for 2 minutes, but could possibly come back out same point if it goes long especially since the player got the penalty OTB. Its hurtful to the team and seems appropriate for the violation. Apply that same thing to divisional and the same penalty puts you down to 2 players in the first 20 seconds of the game assuming everyone survived OTB. Seems too harsh for the crime to me.

Nick Brockdorff said...

1: Major (minor if he had stopped firing after receiving the hit)

2: Major

3: Major

4: Major

I believe the penalty is balanced in scenario 1, 2 and 4, as all of them resulted (or could have resulted) in eliminations.

If scenario 2 had run down 2 guys, THEN we'd have a debate....

In scenario 3, a case could be made for adjusting the rules to a minor, since the guy did not shoot his gun.

But, it's a debatable point, because him staying in the game and taking the 50, will draw guns and attention - and impact the game..... but arguably less so than a player shooting his gun.

Gut feeling tells me to adjust the rules to let players complete moves fully in structures consisting of several bunkers (such as a snake complex).

Nick Brockdorff said...


I agree somewhat, but I'd rather see the Pros play by divisional rules.

While I enjoy the entertainment the penalty box can sometimes bring to the game, I fail to see why a penalty that lead to a wrongful elimination, should allow the offending team to get the penalized player back during the same point... the divisional way creates better balance IMHO.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Anon 5:03PM:

Why on earth do you think schenario 2 it is unintentional - and why do you think that should matter in terms of the rules?

I strongly believe the rules should not consider intent at all, except for when it comes to misconduct.

It does not matter one bit, if a player running down an opponent after receiving a hit, knows he was hit or not..... it should be the deed which was penalized, not the intent.

Opening the door for refs to judge intent, is asking for chaos.

Stephen said...

Sorry to be off topic, but you said illustration and I feel like what will change the illustration of the game is how it is presented by the referees. And that can start with these penalties.

One thing that would greatly improve presentation is every single penalty on the pro field should be announced, to the crowd, on a speaker. Explain the type of penalty (minor or major), who it was on (player #), and what it was for (wiping, playing on, spinning, too many guys, hot gun, dirty hang, or whatever else). Have the ref explain the after effect as well (1:00 or the other team scores, 2:00) Just like every other sport, do it clearly, so the audience knows what's going on.

To go back on topic, it doesn't matter the effects of the penalty, at the end of the day there is still a risk/reward factor for any penalty created and on every layout we see teams fight back from majors and lose games on minors, but no one know's WHY. That is because it is not always consistent and never explained like you just did. Instead, its "BOOM MAJOR, what the hell? Now we are down 3 points?" Who know's if it's fair or not? The only person that "saw it happen" was the ref and the player "had no idea he was hit".

Personally, I think majors are a little harsh in any situation. I know it's not the referee's job to call you out, but in what sport is their an honor rule? So for me, I would change all of these to minors. Or a variation of a minor. I would, eliminate the player and a friend during that single point, between points, explain the elimination and penalty, consistent with the rules, and starting next point he has a 1:00 minor so if the other team scores he is out of the box. Or maybe one of these is a blatant 2:00 because of a greater situation, but now it is justified to everyone and will continue to be the same across the board.

At the end of the day, it's the ref calling out the elimination and penalty. The only time players eliminate themselves is when the risk isn't worth the reward and from how you explained the scenarios's and if I were a ref at an event, I would have to assume the player did not 100% know of any of the hits making them all unobvious, right?

If it helps, I really only consider a major blatantly wiping or playing on with more than one hit. I know that's not the rules, but that's what it should be to me haha.

frobinson said...

The first and third scenarios should warrant the same punishment as they both seem to follow the same thought process: made a bold move early to run far knowing that there was the potential to get shot out immediately, got clipped, kept playing, deserved penalty.

The second scenario however doesn't follow this same trend. The player gets clipped in the pod/pack and nobody notices, not him, not the ref standing 5m from him. It happens. He then jumps up and runs someone down at which point, the ref sees the hit, but only after he's already bunkered someone. Yes it's playing on technically but why would he deserve the same penalty as the other two? Assuming he didn't knowingly take advantage of the fact he was playing on, what does penalizing him really serve to do? Furthermore, is it not an assumption on behalf of the referee that the hit must have occurred before the player made the run-down?

The fourth scenario with the player spinning seems the worst of all the scenarios in my mind. Assuming he truly did get shot in the back and it's not just a late-to-the-party last minute turn, but rather a full on "I'm going to try and get you out too" then yes, it deserves the highest penalty awarded during general play. The intent was there to violate the rules and should hence be punished accordingly.

At the end of the day, I guess it all comes down to intent. You could look back at scenario two and make an argument that the referee must be able to deal out a penalty that encompasses both accidental playing on and playing on intentionally. As such, all 4 referee decisions have to be able to account for intent and accident and that's where the whole major/minor comes into play. I don't think it's a perfect system, but the penalty box does add an extra dimension to the game, even if only for viewing purposes. I really don't see how any alternative method can work without completely ruining the modern webcasted game. For instance, the divisional method of a 2for1 simply obliterates the majority of a team for any given point. You do that in the pro game and teams will instantly throw the towel in as they've got little to gain by letting the point run on. Although I do think the penalty box is enjoyable, you could almost argue that penalties in the Millennium Series are handled more appropriately with the major of plays that have the potential for intent to cheat, being reward with a 1for1 unless the player starts swearing and screaming etc. This still makes a large impact on the team but it doesn't necessarily slow down the game play (or more to the point, make the penalized team play as defensive) quite as much as in the PSP.

Which takes us back to the box. Isn't the time the real issue here? It's easy, okay maybe not easy, but it's definitely do-able for any given pro team to hold on for the 2 minutes required to burn a major penalty off. And since the refs are having to assume that all playing on scenarios could potentially have an intent to cheat driving them, they all receive the same penalty. But it doesn't really make enough of a difference to deter the few who made their move on purpose. So what if they made the minor the "go to" call that the red flag seems to have become recently and increase the time spent in the box? Then have the major as the real punishment for those who it's blatantly obvious, know exactly what they are doing and stick them in the box for 5 minutes?

Hardly a perfect solution but I wanted to share a few thoughts on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Let's say that a ref runs in to find a pack hit that's been there for some time. That's a minor right now. How is it fair to throw a minor on the same guy for eliminating another player?
If you eliminate minors for the unobvious pack hit and make the unobvious bunker guy a minor no one is going to come off the field until a ref pulls them off when they get hit in the pack. They can just say they didn't feel it.
It sucks getting a minor on a pack hit but it's part of the game
I agree that it would be nice if some how the penalties were relayed to the crowd/webcast.

Anonymous said...

If the guy has a pack hit and the ref knows he didnt get shot during the move, why not just wipe off the bunkered player and eliminate the player with the pack hit?

Anonymous said...

Wiping off a player in a timely manner is next to impossible.

Anonymous said...


The refs don't determine intent. The refs determine whether the hit was obvious or not.

You penalize more for obvious hits because a player with an obvious hit is able to act differently with the knowledge they are hit. A player with an unknown unobvious pack hit isn't going to do anything; you call the minor because team A just got to play with an extra player for a while, so you let team B play with an extra player for 60 seconds (or until they win a point).

That's different than a player with an obvious hit... that player knows they are hit, which gives them the ability to decide to do things like chaos-creating crazy run-throughs because they know they don't have anything to lose (they're already out)... so if you've already got a hit on you a ref hasn't picked up yet, why not just run down the field and try and take some people with you?

There are majors for obvious hits to make the price of deciding to do the run-through after you're hit greater than the likely reward. You don't need majors for unobvious hits because there's no decision being made.

Nick Brockdorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Brockdorff said...

But my point is, that whether a hit is obvious or not is the same as accounting for "intent" or "knowledge".

There is absolutely no reason to differentiate between obvious and unobvious hits, unless the reasoning is knowledge/lack of knowledge.

What should be the determining factor, is the impact the infraction has on the game.

This notion that intent/knowledge determines the severity of the penalty is a bad concept, because it asks the refs to make calls based on their perception of the players mindset.

We should not care if the player intended to break the rules or not - just that he did - and have rules that penalize according to the potential impact on the game.

So, if you are rolling your gun or running down someone, it should be a major, irrespective of whether you knew you were hit or not.

And, if you are just in your bunker, head down, doing nothing, it's a minor

Anonymous said...

I think what the situations highlight is the perceived inconsistency in the reffing. The dirty hang that wasn't a dirty hang and allowed the D4 (?) team to win at Dallas being an example. The announcers themsleves were wondering how it was going to be called. To me, the flow should be obvious. I did this, I got caught, this is the repercussion that helps balance it out.

Stating what the penalty was for by the refs would force them to justify their calls. This could act as a "check" to limit favoritism or rash calls.

raehl said...


You don't think the refs are capable of determining whether a hit is obvious or not, but are capable of determining what a player's "affect on the game" is?

How hard is it for a ref to decide if it's a pack hit etc or not?

More importantly, do we really want to play a version of paintball where anytime somebody gets hit in the pack their opponents get a 2-kill bonus?

Ken said...

Wholeheartedly agree with Nick on the intent/knowledge issue. If you want to make refs more objective give them objective measures, otherwise you subject the player to subjective calls like intent.

Baca, I think those scenarios are too obvious. But you're right about penalties being the problem. It stems more so from you assertion that we're using penalties designed for our early woods game, not our current Race2 format.

Those penalties directly affected your score in the old ways. Body count was tantamount to making the Sunday club back in 10. So a 3 for 1 could send you home early. Todays game, the penalty doesn't automatically affect the score. So maybe we need to put that back in for fairness or a deterrent or whatever floats your boat for the purpose of penalties.

Get a penalty, then your team can't score that point. Or give a point to the other team.

In a Race2 game, each point may be way too valuable. Double the hang to 2 points and give 1 point for penalties.

Still too much value in Race2? Switch to halves and the points because less valuable. Make the hangs 3, majors 2, minors 1.

Wanna cause tournament organizers a migraine, use additive time as the penalty.

Okay, now I'm just rambling and forgotten what my point was....

CreightonLaw said...

We don't call them obvious hits because they're obvious to the crowd or refs, but rather they're obvious to the player because they can feel the hit. So if a ball hits a player on his body (not pack, shoe, gun, or mask (aside from lens)) then we expect that the player has felt the hit and in some way or another knows he could potentially be out. If he is lucky, he will have the time and ability to see if it broke and remain in the game.

So in scenario one, the guy gets an feels a hit but is in no position whatsoever to check for a bounce. If he continues to keep running and shooting then he deserves a major. This player chose a route on the field that removed his luxury of checking for a bounce, so the onus is on him to remove himself or jeopardize a penalty whenever he feels a hit. Anything other than a major would encourage these moves because the reward for drawing attention from opposing guns or actually getting the opposition out is worth the risk.

In scenario two, this should be a minor. In this situation we are dealing with an unobvious hit. We don't expect players to remove their gear to check for hits. This is why we have refs, to look for hits that would otherwise be game prohibitive for the player themselves to check. While it is somewhat unjust for the opposing team to lose a player, the onus is on the ref for not making the call. A minor can be issued to compensate for the opposing teams lose and attempt to put the odds back in the opposing teams favor.

Scenario three should be a minor as well, unless player gets up and starts shooting. I believe in this situation the player has taken an obvious hit and should stop and check himself as in situation one. The difference here is that we are waiting for the player to get in position to check himself. Not every first knuckle is a safe spot, this becomes somewhat situationally dependant. If the player is only running, not shooting, then he should be allowed to oomplete his move to a place where he can safely check their hit. This may not always be the first knuckle so some leeway should be allowed. Once he progresses past that point where he can check himself then he has abandoned his right to check his hit and is entering a stage of risk as in scenario one. The difference in terms of fairness here is that because the player was not shooting the opposing team was not at risk of losing a player as a result of the offending players conduct, in contrast to scenario one where the player was shooting. The opposing team in this matter is simply having their attention drawn away. If you think about this, a minor may even be overkill for a teams attention to be drawn away. However, removing another player would go beyond balancing the field and step up to deterring future offending conduct.

Scenario four should result in a third level of penalty to extend beyond balancing the field and deter this conduct. Perhaps another player lost in the pro ranks? It is one of those moves that is difficult to judge but it puts the team committing the run through in a position where they are on the opponents end of the field, without cover, and have to worry about getting called for playing on themselves.

TL;DR We want to enforce deterrent level penalties for actions that put the rules of the sport second, where the rules have not been put second we only want to balance the field of play.

NewPro said...

un-obvious, or obvious, penalties are the games way of correcting itself. An unobvious hit, obv not called at the point of impact, allowed the player to potentially change the outcome of the game to the opposing teams detriment.

The grey is how much of an impact this players actions after hit had.All scenarios you listed, described varying degrees of impact. Does one size fit all or is it an eye for an eye.if the reff was able to folow the course of action and impact amde, the punishment should fit the crime. If he easn't, the grade of the crime cannot be determined and a minor should be applied.

CreightonLaw said...

New Pro, the penalties should also reflect the egregiousness of the conduct as well as the impact of the game, in order to deter the misconduct. There is absolutely no way a ref can assess the impact of play beyond the player whom he is assessing the penalty.

Believe it or not there are objective ways to determine a players intent, or in better words, reckless disregard for the rules. In situation one he may not have intended to play on but he recklessly disregarded the rules regarding playing on with a hit and therefore deserves a penalty equivalent to intent. Compare that to situation two where the player with the unobvious pack hit was not recklessly disregarding the rules and therfore should not be penalized as severely.

Anonymous said...

Anytime a player receives an obvious hit, they have a decision to make: Call themselves out or not.

If they call themselves out, they are out of the point.

If they don't call themselves out, they can keep playing and hopefully cause eliminations on the other team, but risk receiving a penalty.

So you want the penalty for failing to call yourself out to exceed the benefits of doing so in probably the vast majority of cases, otherwise the player will choose to keep playing anytime the reward for doing so exceeds the penalty.

A player with an unobvious hit isn't making a decision. That means they have no opportunity to decide to make the penalty worth it, and it also means they can't choose to avoid the penalty by simply calling themselves out.

So it makes perfect sense for obvious hits to be penalized more than unobvious hits because players with obvious hits can both cause more damage and also have the opportunity to avoid them entirely.

Anonymous said...

So pack hit playing on with no elimination should be the same as pack hit with an elimination? Can the rule be changed to make an unobvious hit with an elimination a major minus the extra body pull. Have Minors, majors and flagrant majors possibly.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't work because the ref doesn't know if there was an elimination or not.

If the ref sees the player get the unobvious hit, he should just call the player out, no penalty.

If a penalty is thrown, it's because the ref found the pack hit some point in the game and doesn't know how long it's been there. If he doesn't know how long it's been there, he doesn't know if that player eliminated anyone else or not.

In that case the ref pulls the eliminated player, and puts another player in the box, under the theory that that is about as close to even as you're going to get.

If you have a case where the ref KNOWS a player player was shot by an opponent who had an unobvious hit, the refs should signal the shot player to stay in.

Baca Loco said...

Good, this is progress. Irrespective of intent some of y'all are acknowledging real distinctions that maybe could be improved upon. Some of you are one foot in the penalty/deterrent camp and one foot in the game balance camp but at least recognize the difference.
So tell me, do we lean toward game balance or deterrence?
And doesn't that ultimately depend on what kind of game you want to play?
Are you willing to tolerate less rigor for a game that is perhaps more fast paced and fun to play and/or watch? Or is it simply too important to contain all the extra legal acts that players might get away with?

Anonymous said...

While I fully support the idea of coming down on the side of game balance, and in an ideal world that's what makes sense, the fact of the matter is we live in a world where deterrence is what is necessary to prevent decay at the margins.

I can assure you that if you lean in favor of game balance, within 5 years, players will abuse this intent as much as possible to the point where people will be fed up and just say "throw the book at them".

Better to recognize that players will push every chance they get and over time the infractions will become more frequent and severe until addressed by the rules. The Tontons/Shock game comes to mind, even though that's not necessarily the same topic here.

Original PSP approach was not to interfere with game play and just do random checks. Velocities crept up and up until people were getting injured, velocities were unsafe, and now the PSP swung the pendulum the other way and is chonoing every point, just like they should have always and just like they used to (before xball).

In this case, the rules were crafted around deterrence.

I think similar logic would need to be applied in other cases. Consider game play, but deterrence is the key.

And I say this as one who could not be more disgusted by the Millennium approach which skips right past deterrence and into presumption of guilt, and punishment with extreme prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Balance and deterrence are not mutually exclusive.

You want to deter players from playing illegally - I doubt anyone wants to watch a game of paintball where everytime someone gets hit they just get up and run down the field and see how many people they can take with them because the worst thing that happens is the refs try and 'balance it out' later.

But no rule is going to deter a player from playing with an unobvious pack hit they don't know they have. You'd like to balance out the effect that eliminated player had on the game, but you don't want to throw a deterrence-level penalty (a major) at someone just because they got hit in a spot they couldn't feel.

So you do deterrence AND game balance - deterrence for situations where the player's decision can be effected, and balance where it can't.

borscht said...

A properly balanced system has deterrence built in - even if not every aspect of it is deterrence based. A deterrence based system rapidly gets too complicated to officiate, while a balance based system which ignores intent but rather only considers *potential* game impact (since impact is also a subjective judgement) will minimise ref load while still deterring from the things that need to be deterred.

So, in any situation other than blatant wiping there should be one kind of penalty, which I'd suggest be a points penalty (make a pull and hang worth say 2 combined to compensate for a 1 point penalty, as stated by others). Perhaps a blatant wipe could forfeit two points as a concession to deterrence.

Anonymous said...

X player = Did he shoot someone? No?
Minor penalty
D wire player = Put elimanated opponent back in game. Major penalty.
Snake player OTB = Major penalty.
Spining player = Major penalty,suspend rest of match.

Andrew Beard said...

i think all 4 do warrant a major. the d wire is hard but if the refs where doing their job that should never happen

Anonymous said...

"X player = Did he shoot someone? No?"

What if the answer is (as it almost always is) "Maybe?" Then what?

"Did he get hit where he could feel it and keep playing? Yes? Major. No? Minor."

What is so hard about that?

Joshua W. said...

X-guy: Eh. Because he was still shooting I would say a major is deserved. If he dropped his gun as soon as he felt it, but continued running to the A where he called a ref to check him then he should be called out without penalty. Because he was purposefully changing the game with the knowledge he might be hit, yes the major is deserved.

D-guy: Depends, if he was hit in the belt, a major might be deserved, depending on the level of play. I would think that pros would know they are hit, I'm not a pro so I can't say for sure, so a major would be deserved. In the lower levels a major would probably be too drastic, maybe a nice minor. But if a guy is hit on a pod or a flap, come on. Players have better things to do than randomly check themselves to make sure they didn't take a pack hit, and only super humans would actually feel that. If a player takes a hit on a pod then it is the responsibility of the refs to pull him out. If he makes a move before the refs notice the hit than thats on the refs, not the player. Because this might appear very prejudiced (which it might be, but I think I'm objective), I have both reffed and played tourneys, though admittedly I have done more playing than reffing.

Snake wiper: Major all day.

Snake spinner: Major, although the ref should throw it with less malicious intent than he did for the wiper, and be nicer when pulling his teammates off the field. In my mind spinning is no where near the same level of cheating as wiping, but you are still shooting live players as a dead player with obvious hits so a major is deserved.

To all the reminder questions at the beginning, yes. The basis for pulling people on a penalty is to level the playing field, but if it was just that you would pull out the cheating player and reinsert any players he shot, but that gets complicated. So by pulling some of the penalized players teammates you are not only re-levelling the playing field, but convincing the player it is in his best interest to just leave once he gets hit.
To me, majors are deserved when the player basically says, I may be shot but crew the rules and the refs, I wanna keep playing paintball. Minors are more to correct honest mistakes players make. The trouble is, of course, distinguishing.

Anonymous said...

#2 is the only item that I think could have been a judgement call because the way its written, its the only scenario where the ref didn't see the hit.

If the player was taking heat in a way that would have hit their pack, forcing them into some sort of desperation run, ring them up.

If the offensive player was catching heat on the way to the stabbing, but not from the player who gets stabbed, ring them up.

If the player makes a clean move with no heat, and I catch the hit after the move is completed, yellow

Nick Brockdorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Brockdorff said...


No, I do not think the refs are able to determine the impact on the game, just as I don't believe they are able to determine intent (in a very general way, you can always find scenarios where they can).

So, as a logical consequence, I want the rules (and by default the refs) to not take impact on the game or intent of the player into account at all.

The current set of rules, are to a degree a question of trying to discern intent and impact, which is why some calls are minors and others majors.

I think that is a mistake, because to me, it doesn't matter if the guy felt the hit or not - what matters is that he is playing, after he should be taking the walk to the pit.

So, I want simple rules, which will many times favor the team not being in breach of the rules (after all, they DID shoot the guy, and he didn't leave the field).

In reality we need "playing on rules" for very few scenarios:

1. Playing a bunker with a hit on you
2. Moving with a hit on you (we still need rules that allow players to complete moves, as long as they stop doing damage after receiving the hit)
3. Receiving a hit in your bunker, then moving

Anonymous said...

Nick, there is a rule for #2.

6.8.7 Basically states a player that receives a obvious hit they can't verify while moving may continue to the nearest cover to check themselves.

NewPro said...

Whether there is intent or not is not the issue. A player with an un-obvious hit, plays on , shoots 4 guys wins point. A player who knows he/she is hit,obvious hit, proceeds in the same manner and the results are the same. Both have upset the flow of the game. One is a minor and one is a major, ummm no. This requires a Balanced outlook as result is the same whether there was intent or not. If you want to penalize the individual player as well for the "intent" part, issue the team a penalty concurrently.

Anonymous said...

@NewPro: One should absolutely be a major and the other should be a minor.

If a player with an unobvious hit manages to eliminate 4 opponents, that's a reffing error.

If a player with an obvious hit manages to eliminate 4 opponents, that's because the player is taking advantage of his 'nothing to lose' situation.

Basically, a guy with an unobvious pack hit isn't going to suddenly jump up and run down the field. A guy with a hit he knows about, with nothing to lose, very well may choose to do so - thus why the penalty is greater to prevent players from willfully making that decision because the rewards for not calling themselves out are greater than the penalty.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Anon 4.48:

I know, but I want to get rid of the word "obvious", as I believe it to be completely irrelevant.

People keep being stuck on the notion that the penalty should be different, if the hit is not "obvious".

I think the rules should not differentiate between whether you know you are hit or not, as it opens the door for blatant and willful cheating, where there is no logical reason for not shutting that door firmly in the rules.

It shouldn't matter if you know you are hit, only that you are.

Anonymous said...

Under the current rules, all 4 scenarios are major penalties. #2 is the only one where there isn't willful intent to continue playing on, but the net affect on the game is the same.

Silly proposal - half way in between the current rules and the penalty system that PSP divisional teams use: no more majors. Everything on the Pro field is a 1-minute minor, and any pulled bodies go to the box. Scenario #1-#4 - 2 guys to the box for 1 minute each.
Scenario 5 - Same as scenario #2, except the player doesn't shoot anyone - pull that player, send them to the box for 1 minute, no additional bodies. Grosses and suspensions can still be assessed on top of the on-field penalties, but won't take affect until after the point in which the penalty occurred.

From the above I draw the following two conclusions:

1.) The way penalties are done this year is less intelligent than years past.

2.) The truly better system for penalties is the divisional system, where bodies get pulled, go off the field for that point, and you start over the next point. Keeping the penalty box around for spectator excitement or enjoyment is just stupid - it doesn't work for the current RaceTo format, so let's stop trying to come up with a band-aid solution to make the boxes work and just adopt what the rest of the divisions use.

Anonymous said...

My only issue is the inconsistency of penalties especially on the divisional fields..

Liam said...

Okay i only have a limited experience of millennium refs, with one european event under my belt using PSP rules (CPS Rome), but still with euro refs.
However i think that the jurisprudence behind the rules exists to protect the offended player, rather than the offended.
Its rare that i'll play a tournament and not have somebody in the team get pulled for a penalty they genuinely had no clue was there. However the rules (in my eyes) exist so that shooting a player results in the proper reward for the player that shot them. If that player plays on, unintentionally or not,it isn't fair to take the kill away from the other team which they earned fairly.
I agree with the comment of risk and reward when pushing these positions, and even something seemingly innocent like just crawling up the snake to then get pulled can change a game, if guns start turning to that spot.
If you change the game when you weren't meant to, then the majors should be applied.

Anonymous said...

Of course it should matter if you know you're hit, because a player knowing they are hit gives them information they can use to affect the game.

You need a strong penalty to prevent players that know they are hit from acting in a way that ultimately creates chaos.

A strong penalty when players don't know they are hit is overkill.

If the penalty for playing on with an obvious hit were only a minor, lots of players would often choose to keep playing because the benefits of continuing to do so (eliminating another player and possibly not getting called on the hit at all) exceed the risks (having a live player pulled for 60 seconds or less).

But if the penalty for an unobvious hit were a major, they we're pulling a player out of the game for 2 full minutes just because a player happened to get hit in a spot where he had no idea it happened and the refs missed it.

A player who knows they are hit continuing to play is an entirely different situation than a player who doesn't know they are hit continuing to do so and necessitates a different penalty.

And no, deciding if a hit is obvious or not is NOT "making things open to interpretation." Determining the difference between an obvious and unobvious hit is no more a "judgement call" than determining whether a player false started, or left the box early, or stepped out of bounds, or any other number of other things a judge has to determine.

Nick Brockdorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Brockdorff said...

So, you subscribe to the view that 2 situations, with the same impact on the game, should have different penalties, because one player intended to cheat and the other did not?

I beg to differ, because that philosophy means refs are there to "punish wrongdoers" (which is an entirely wrong mindset to have for a ref), instead of being there to "level the playing field" (which is how refs ought to view their job).

Another thing is, the way most rulebooks are written today, the difference between an obvious and an unobvious hit, is purely based on where the hit is situated (usually if it is within the self check zone or not).

Problem just is, that in the vast majority of situations a player knows he has been hit, irrespective of where he is hit.

So, unless you want the rulebook to require refs to guess on whether a player knows he is hit or not, irrespective of where the hit is situated, you are actually allowing for a whole lot of playing on - on purpose - simply because you want there to be a difference in the penalty based on where someone is hit.

I on the other hand - think the system should change, so that minors are called in a specific set of circumstances where the impact on the game is minor, and majors in a specific set of circumstances that has major game impact.

Liam said...

@Anonymous you say it's overkill if they don't know about a hit and they get a major, but if they happen to take a 50 spot or whatever and put a huge amount of pressure on the opposing team, the other team should just accept that guy getting a minor because he didn't know about it? As has been mentioned a few times the focus should be on keeping things fair rather than just punishing players.
@Nick i agree on the point you raise that the circumstances dictate the penalty and not the players intention etc.
I've got to say, it is interesting that in millenniums where there is no distinction between obvious and unobvious hits, people are all of a sudden able to 'feel' pack hits when they know they'll get a 141. fancy that :)

Anonymous said...


Your problem is you're thinking about it after the damage is done, instead of thinking about preventing the damage in the first place.

A player who knows they are hit is usually going to have a much greater impact on the game than a player who doesn't know they are hit, because KNOWLEDGE CHANGES THE WAY THE PLAYER PLAYS.

We've all seen players get a hit then get up and run down the field seeing how many people they can take with them. A player with an unobvious hit is unlikely to do that because they don't know they're already out and have nothing to lose.

And, a player with an unobvious hit can't choose to call themselves out. A player with an obvious hit *CAN* choose to call themselves out. So if they have an obvious hit, and they CHOOSE not to call themselves out, that's because THEY THINK continuing to play is worth more than the penalty.

So on an obvious hit, the player will call themselves out if they don't think continuing to play is worth it, and will not call themselves out if they think continuing to play is worth the risk of the penalty.

On an unobvious hit, the player isn't going to call themselves out no matter what.

So, by making an obvious hit a major, you make it more likely that players will decide to just call themselves out, so NO DAMAGE IS DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE. If you make the penalty weaker, there are more circumstances where players who know they are hit are going to think it is worth continuing to play.

There isn't a penalty strong enough to get a player with an unobvious hit to call themselves out. In that case, you try and make the penalty about equal to what the average damage a player with an obvious hit can cause.

Put another way, you never make the penalty for intentional behavior equal to the damage because then it ALWAYS makes sense to do the illegal behavior: If you get caught, you come out even, and if you don't, you come out ahead. Who is going to call themselves out when the worst that could happen is they come out event, and they might come out ahead?

You're right that penalties are not about intent or punishing wrongdoing. Penalties are about allowing the best team to win, both by redressing the negative affect of rule violations that happen, but ALSO by making it in the players' best interest to try to play by the rules in the first place.

This isn't about player intention, it's about where the player is hit, which is a pretty easy thing to figure out. But even if it was, the idea that refs shouldn't determine player intention is preposterous. Virtually every sport on the planet has rules that have different penalties based on a referee's determination of whether the action was intentional or not. FIFA has "deliberate handball". MLB penalizes differently for a pitch hitting a batter and a pitch intentionally hitting a batter.

All that said, that doesn't mean our current penalty for playing on with an obvious hit is the right one. Yes, you want to deter players from choosing to play on after being hit. But referees aren't perfect, so you have to balance that with the damage done when a ref calls a major on a non-hit. The better the reffing the less of a concern that is, but I'm sure I'm not the only player who has lost two teammates because the ref who hasn't been cleaning the bunkers thought rub was a hit.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I agree deterrence is important.

However, I cannot agree that an unobvious hit is equal to lack of knowledge. In fact, I believe that in most instances, players know they have received a hit, they just don't know if it broke :)

That being the case, it does not make sense we are differentiating penalties, based on where there hit is situated.

In the MS rules, they do it like this:

If you receive a hit in a place you can check yourself (obvious), you are obligated to call yourself out instantly, or you will incur a penalty.

If you receive a hit in a place you cannot check yourself (unobvious), you are obligated to call for a check, before you proceed with actively playing the game, otherwise you incur a penalty.

In both cases, if you break the rule, the penalty is the same.

The guiding philosophy is that the players impact on the game is the same, irrespective of where he is hit..... so the penalty is also the same.

In terms of deterrence, I agree the penalty has to be stern enough to avoid players making the choice to play on after receiving a hit.

But, I do not subscribe to the view that playing with an obvious hit should be punished harder than an unobvious one, simply because in most cases the knowledge that you received a hit is there.

And yes, players will then occasionally be punished equally hard for playing with a hit they truly never felt they received..... but is that really so bad? ;)

Anonymous said...

1 ref per player. Problem solved.

Nick Brockdorff said...

True... except for moves off the break, that can have large impact on the game quickly.

Ans as long as the refs understand the game well enough, to not give good moves away too soon :)

Anonymous said...

They are in that room doing everything but concerning themselves with the referees. They are only discussing how much more money they can charge the non pro teams for entry.