Teams Testing New Spirit Scoring System At College Champs

The logo of USA Ultimate, the sport's national governing body.As a part of their new five year strategic plan, USA Ultimate is looking for ways to “make Spirit of the Game real for today’s players.” Part of that process includes creating a new USA Ultimate Spirit of the Game Committee.

That committee is putting together one of their first acts this weekend in Madison, with a new approach to spirit scoring at the College Championships.

Lou Burruss, Oregon Fugue coach and SOTG Committee Chair, explains the new system in an email to teams:

[quote]First, I’d like to apologize for getting to you so late with this. Like you, I’ve been scrambling to take care of all my work, family and team obligations prior to Nationals. Our hope is that this is a very, very small imposition on your weekend. If it is any bigger than that, it won’t work, which is what we are trying to figure out.[/quote]

[quote]I volunteered this spring to lead the Spirit of the Game committee out of a desire to help keep SotG a strongly functioning part of our sport. As Ultimate has grown, the informal system of education and enforcement has stretched thin and it is clear we need some structure to help manage the growth. This year’s Nationals affords us the opportunity to experiment with a different Spirit scoring system. Let me explain some of the details and then come back to talk about rationale and coaching approach.

Here are the details:

-USAU Spirit scoring and Spirit award will continue as always.

– At the end of the first game each day, you will receive a scoring sheet (attached) divided into four categories.

– For each game that day you score your opponent and yourself in each category.

-Return your sheet to the score keeper or info tent at the end of your day.

The two key elements here are greater detail of evaluation and self-reflection. I know that most teams give about 30 seconds of thought to Spirit scores. (Was the other team cool? Give ’em a 5. Jerks? Give ’em a 3.) When you look at the score sheet, you will see that the categories allow you to be much more descriptive in your evaluation. The other key piece is that you score yourself. We spend a lot of time analyzing other teams’ Spirit, but very little time examining our own. The three or four teams I was a part of that critically examined their own Spirit all showed marked improvement.

I’ll be honest when I say I don’t really know how this is going to work for each team. [The World Flying Disc Federation] (from whom we are borrowing the scoring guide) requires the Spirit rankings to be completed by the entire team, not just the captains. I can see this happening after a big win, but after a crushing loss? I’m just not sure. Part of why I’m excited about doing this at Nationals is because we are the best of the best — I trust that there are ideas out there that going to make this work better. So what we are asking is that you give it a shot and you do so in a way that works for your team. For Oregon, I am going to go to my captains and ask them how they want to approach it and we’ll figure out a method.

After Nationals, the SotG Committee will go over all the data and feedback and prepare a report which we will send to all of you.[/quote]

We will follow up with Burruss about the experiment and its results at the conclusion of the weekend.


  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

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

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