Referees: MLU v. AUDL

Sludge Brown, who runs a great ultimate blog out of Washington, D.C., chimed in on my post about officiating in professional leagues.

[quote]I have had the great fortune to attend numerous pro Ultimate games in Washington DC.

The AUDL refs for the Breeze (DCB) are ill-prepared to be officiating *any* Ultimate game; let alone a professional Ultimate game. It’s scary; most of the DCB refs can’t/don’t make any calls outside of the obvious (stall counting, out-of-bounds, score, end of quarter). My understanding is the refs used by DCB are converted football referees, so they’re still learning about Ultimate rules & how the game is played.

Example: the player had the disc at the cone, but couldn’t step out + throw bcs the ref was standing so close to the play.

For the Current games, the MLU refs have demonstrated they understand the game. Not to say they haven’t been out of position or missed a call (hey, who hasn’t?), but they seem better prepared to make calls & to maintain the game’s flow. One area of improvement would be better consistency of contact calls.

For what it’s worth, an NBA norm that I hope NEVER INFECTS pro Ultimate is the how players argue every call. That’s why this behavior towards an MLU ref was so disappointing to witness.[/quote]

This has been somewhat of a resounding reaction to the piece: MLU players in the comments and on Twitter have defended their referees as anywhere from solid to good, if still learning and missing occasional calls. AUDL players have been less supportive of theirs.

A few people have suggested that the refs are better in the Midwest than on the East Coast for the AUDL. And almost everything we’ve heard about the West Coast MLU refs has been positive.

Referee support in the MLU is not universal. I’ve personally spoken with a number of players about the marking fouls and picks as a problem. But there are clearly a lot of players who do think the refs are doing a good job and are happy with the game.

Regardless of the current situation, the refereeing will improve with time, but I think there should be some urgency (which is why I wrote the piece). What I have seen from both leagues — watching as an informed spectator — has not inspired confidence in the refereed game.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    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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