Rule Check: Windmill Windup Finals

The finals of the Windmill Windup pitted the USA’s Chiniya Rada against Germany’s Bad Skid. It was a tight game that came down to the wire on double game point. During that play, there was a controversial foul call by Chiniya Rada’s Sam Harkness after he felt he was knocked to the ground by a defender while chasing a jump-ball dump pass.

Watch (the play begins at 3:15):

This play was posted to WFDF’s Rules discussion board and Rueben Berg, the chair of the Ultimate Rules Sub-Committee, posted this discussion from Ben Wiggins, who was right there watching the play unfold:

[quote]The defense from Bad Skid got much more physical in the last three points. NOT cheating, just much more physical overall. It was a surprise to us, and honestly, I think they would have beaten us handily if they had played that quality of defense for the entire game. But far more plays were on the physicality borderline at the end of the game. Just to repeat: this is weird because the level changed, not because they were all of the sudden doing anything illegal.

On that play: I was about ten yards away, and when it went up I thought we were screwed because Ryan couldn’t get to it. But Sam closed on the play, as he does a lot, once he saw there was trouble. From the angle of the throw, I was already setting up to cut for Sam, because it looked like he would have it easily, if maybe a relatively easy layout.

Then Sam went down, and my first impression was that Flo’s second attempt clattered into Sam and was a foul. My second impression was that this was not a clear and obvious foul…that this is the kind of call that you hate to have to make at the end of a great game. Flo was angry, and I stepped in to talk with Sam after he asked Ryan, Tyler and myself what we thought. He often does this on any call he isn’t 100% sure of, and sometimes even on calls he is sure about (check out the second half of the recent Dogfish/Rainmakers game [on Youtube now] for an example of a call that Sam was 100% sure about, but asked for an opinion and listened to his teammates about in changing his call).

He asked me, and I told him that I thought it was a foul. Flo was angry, and I told Flo that it was a tough call (in terms of tough to make, and probably tough to accept) for the end of the game. I said something like “I truly think it is a foul, and I’m not trying to f*** you on this.”. Flo, still very fired up, contested politely and screamed to his teammates to fire them up for the coming defensive stand. The disc went back to the thrower after a few quick handshakes, IIRC. If Flo and other Bad Skid players were angry at us, they didn’t express it rudely then or later (which I say as a testament to their Spirit, and not as prove in any way about the correctness of the call).

We won a few throws later. It was tough to celebrate (and our celebration was very muted) because we all know what it is like to have a contested call at the end of the game and we wanted to respect that. Like any important call, I was nervous that I might have advised Sam incorrectly so I was definitely waiting for the video to come out….getting a call wrong in our favor on the final point and a perception of intentional misuse of the rules would have been the worst possible outcome. I definitely would have rather lost, and I know Sam (and Tyler, and the rest of our team) would agree on that. Having watched the video, I think that it was a close but correct call, and one that probably would not have been remembered were it not on the final point. Regardless, I do hope that Bad Skid trusts our intent to get the call right. We have a ton of respect for them as competitors (even before they waxed us on Saturday at Windmill) and I guess there isn’t much more to say than I hope that the next big game with them ends on a point with lots of physicality, with us trying to solve their great end zone defense, and with everyone congratulating the winner whoever it may be.

I know that is a lot of words, but it was a big call and deserves a second and third and fourth look. I’m glad it got posted here, and I’d be happy to answer more questions (although I think I put everything I know into this quick writeup).[/quote]

What do you think was the correct call? Was it a playable disc that Harkness was impeded from getting to?

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  1. Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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