Friday, December 09, 2005

"For the benefit of the casual spectator"?

Lots of good talk about fouls and penalties these days. I personally think Marshall's post might be the best in that it is a beginning of an exploration of the use of penalties.

I think beginning a discussion on penalties must come from the point of view of what makes the game better for the players. I don't really trust the expertise of folks on RSD who post with certainty that their particular spin on penalties will lead to "growth" and a "better experience for the fans and media". Perhaps I am naive, but I think that what makes the sport better to play will make it better to watch. I pretty much dismiss any assertion not backed up by extensive market research that claims to have any idea about what would make things better for the "casual spectator" or fan.

I think the discussion should begin with comprehensive modeling of what other sports do. Too often, we are launched immediately into the details of someone's specific proposal. For some reason, the model put out there is a basketball-like "foul limit". Why is this the only thing under consideration? Have we really exhausted all other other options? I certainly don't consider the inevitable foul after foul at the end of a basketball game to be particularly exciting, and I find it in stark contrast to the rather continuous action that largely precedes it. What about the other sports? Hockey, football, soccer. They all have systems in place.

I do think, though, that limiting the discussion to only copying what other sports do is not beneficial. I have watched many a live sporting event, and, frankly, Ultimate has as much good and bad as any other sport. Football, when watched live, makes even the most call-fest laden Ultimate game seem to fly by. Watching a sport live is very different than watching it on TV. Let's not forget that TV is not reality. For all their faults and failings, SOTG and self-officiating are based on unique assumptions. Perhaps the discussion should also involve some creative work. Thinking new thoughts about how penalties could work.

So, focus on what makes the sport a better experience for the players. The media and the casual spectator will pick up on the fact that it is enjoyable.

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