June 5, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 13 comments
The World Flying Disc Federation has made some substantial changes to their on-field officiating policies and their approach towards Spirit of the Game, including the addition of a “game advisor,” responsible for assisting players in disputes and giving guidance on rules, to matches.
WFDF just completed its task force on SOTG issues and came up with the following conclusions:
• A new form of WFDF Official should be introduced (Game Advisor) to help reduce the amount of unnecessary delays in Ultimate, and to reduce the likelihood of players blatantly cheating
• While the USAU Observer System also provides solutions to these issues, while maintaining key aspects of self-officiating, the Task Force felt that it would be more appropriate to ensure that Players continue to make and resolve all calls
• In general the Game Advisor role should operate on the assumption that no player will intentionally break the rules, and therefore the main role of the Game Advisor is to provide support, advice and encouragement, to ensure compliance with the rules
• Clear policies and procedures need to be put in place to deal with players who do intentionally breaking the rules, and the Game Advisor should play a role in implementing these policies
The game advisor has the following roles and responsibilities on the field:
-Implement the USAU time limit system for putting the disc in play after a turnover (10s limit for disc in field, 20s limit for disc out of field) and enable the GA to provide advice around these time limits
-Change the time limit for discussions after a foul from 60 seconds to 45 seconds
– Allow the GA to participate in discussions between players, when required, to help them make progress on coming to a decision
– Allow the GA to provide perspective on foul/violation calls, but only if asked (by any player)
– Revise penalties regarding offside to align with those of USAU (repull after first violation and then unfaborable field position)
– Put procedures in place to outline how and when in-game decisions around misconduct are undertaken. The GA should have the power to enforce sanctions under these procedures.
WFDF has not gone as far as USA Ultimate in its creation of a new third party official on the field. Where USAU observers can make binding rulings on calls initiated by players, it appears that, for now, game advisors will only serve as arbitrators with no real power except for the ability to enforce sanctions (though that language is currently vague).
The task force came about after broad online discussion of ugly games like Japan v. Canada at the 2012 WUGC and Canada v. Colombia at the 2013 World Games. Bad calls and interminable stoppages made the games nearly unwatchable, and, unsurprisingly, players reported poor experiences as well. WFDF is conscious of the need to keep the game moving — one of the task force’s main objectives was, “Answer the question on how does WFDF ensure that Ultimate athletes play a fair game that is also viewable.”
The task force recommendations are worth reading in full. WFDF plans to continue to consider its new game advisor position and appears ready to crack down on unsportsmanlike conduct on the field at international events.