Self-Officiation and the Senses

Posted by: on Oct 10, 2013 | No Comments

(This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on self-officiation. Part 1 can be found here.)

Referees on TV are dumb. They get every call wrong, especially against the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox. Maybe they’re just blind. That could be it. Frickers.

It’s easy to criticize officials on TV. Because they suck. Also, because they are, theoretically, watching the same game that we are watching. What we see on TV is sorta what they see on the court or field, even though they generally (not always) can see better. How can they not see what we see? If they screw up, it is first their sight we question, then perhaps their intellect and their biases.

Ultimate officiation is a different animal. When a player makes a call on the field that you disagree with on the sideline, our opposition to the call is based differently. First, we are likely to judge him as basing his decision on bias. Being able to make calls yourself means that people may be inclined to make calls in their own favor (shocker!). Second, he might not know the rules (like the intellectual-deficiency critique of referees). And this is a point I will discuss a bit in part 3.

One major reason that players “get it wrong” on the field, though, is that they are sometimes basing their decisions a very different set of information than those watching. A lot of times the perspectives will be similar. When Vu travels, it can be seen from far away, making it as easy a call for those on the field as for those watching from afar (to be fair though, Vu travels far less than he used to. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Well done, Vu.) A lot of other times, especially in the case of most foul calls, the sense of touch plays as big, or bigger a part, than sight in foul calls. That is, of course, because players attention is rarely focussed on the place where fouls are occurring. When a player has the disc, he or she is more focussed on receivers than their throwing arm. Therefore when there is an incident, the player is judging by feel rather than sight. When a disc is in the air, players spend more time watching the disc than watching their opponent (or, of course, watching the line either). Therefore, any contact is perceived by feel as opposed to sight once again.

At AOUCC this past year, I watched a quarterfinal game between Mochi and Shiok. Mochi had gone down a few points and were looking pretty frustrated (could it have been because of Shiok’s defence?). Their handler picked up the disc and decided that throwing a high floater into the middle of the vertical stack was that best idea. Sunshine was in there, so his height and vertical must have played into the logic. The disc floated behind Sunshine. He backed up to try to make a play on the disc. Before he could make a play, he felt contact in his back and called a foul.

Obviously, backing up through the stack you are going to have contact, but Sunshine was in no place to work out probabilities and figure out what was going on outside of his sight. He was just trying to get the disc. He felt contact. Foul.

The people watching the game, especially the Schiok sideline, didn’t like the call. I didn’t like it either. But, it is hard to be judgmental with the discrepancy in information between Sunshine and those of us on the sideline. Sunshine was making a call by touch. We were arguing based on sight.

The third and final part of this series will look at what is done and can be done about these and other types of discrepancies in information.

(Sorry so short. I realized that this part overlapped big with part 3…)

(Disagree with me? Agree with me? Argue in the forum.)

(And don’t forget to follow me on twitter… @asianultyblog)

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