The following post was submitted to Ultiworld by Andy Lee, the Director of Marketing and Communications for USA Ultimate, in response to a number of issues that arose in the Mid-Atlantic Regional finals between Southpaw and Truck Stop.
In order to help clarify a number of instances during the [Southpaw vs. Truck Stop] game and to help educate the community on Observer roles and interactions, USA Ultimate would like to submit the following comments and corrections on behalf of the Observer Program and the Observers who worked the Southpaw/Truck Stop final at Mid-Atlantic Open Regionals.
On the first point of the game, PMFs were issued to one player on each team for shoving. At some point in the middle of the game, another PMF was issued to a Southpaw player for an obscene gesture directed at an opposing player.
At 12-11, a Southpaw player made a dangerous bid into his opponent’s back on a disc that he had no chance at. Bids such as that one should be given misconduct fouls no matter the game situation. The fact that Truck Stop requested a TMF had nothing to do with the TMF being issued. There were several other times during the game that players asked for TMFs on their opponents, but in the Observers’ view none of those incidents reached the recklessness and danger of this one. (There were other plays with as much contact, but that’s not the same thing.) The Observer behind the stack on that sideline immediately thought TMF when the collision happened, and was moving in towards the play even before the Truck Stop player started to complain. As it would have been Southpaw’s third misconduct foul, he wanted to make absolutely sure that he was making a correct call, so he quickly confirmed some facts with his fellow Observer before issuing the TMF. After the call was made, the Southpaw player swore loudly at the Observers about the call and was then given his second PMF of the game. This resulted in an automatic ejection.
At 13-12, there was a pick call when Southpaw had the disc. The Observer asked what the stall was coming in at and he heard somebody indicate 2, which he echoed. Once play restarted, he was very surprised to hear the stall come in at 7, and even more surprised to hear no objection by the Southpaw thrower even after the count got to 10 and a stall was called. There was no fast count, violation, or other call made by the players. Observers are trained to not intervene in situations like that, when the players on the field agree on a rules interpretation, so the Observer let play continue after the turnover.
Observers serve to help manage the pace of games, help resolve player disagreements, and keep player and team behavior within an acceptable range, while encouraging fair play and continued personal responsibility from the players.