Monday, October 01, 2007

Questions & Anecdotes

1) Will this be the first year that neither of Boston's #1 Open and Women's teams will be a #1 seed at NE Regionals?

2) In the club division, will this be the first time that teams from Canada will be both the #1 seeds in Open and Women's at Regionals? Maybe FG and Prime one year??

3) Wanting it both ways #1:

Complaining that the sport isn't on TV/legit/respected


Whining about the numbers on shorts

Even leaving the pro sports out of it, ever read the NCAA uniform guidelines? Want to be legit? Get ready for someone to tell what color and brand your underwear has to be.

4) Another Hard Time Cap controversy out in the NW. This reminds me a bit of the situation with UBC and Berkeley a few years back.

There is a lot of work to be done in this area. First thing, the concept of an "end of round" time point in the schedule is not only meaningless, but it is dead and gone. Here is what we have:

The Start of the round: This is the first time listed on the SRT.
The Soft Time Cap: The second time listed on the SRT.

To be clear, the UPA suggests and has written into its SRT templates that 30 minutes is needed for the completion of the game after the Soft Time Cap. The 30 minutes listed is NOT a break.

The only other time device available is:

Hard Time Cap

The first thing is that we need to agree that 30 minutes is enough time to complete the game after the Soft Time Cap. If so, then the Hard Time Cap should be no less than 30 minutes after the Soft Time Cap. If the Hard Time Cap is scheduled for less than 30 minutes after the Soft Time Cap, then it should be due to day light, round scheduling, or other concerns.

If a break is needed to change fields AND there is enough time in the day, I will therefore offer my opinion of a "preferred" schedule:

Start of the round: 9AM
Soft Time Cap: 10:30AM
Hard Time Cap(if needed): 11AM
Start of the Next Round: 11:15AM

Notice that there is no "end of round" marker. That is because it is dead and gone.

5) Wanting it both ways #2:

A friend of mine told me about taking a high school team to UPA Open Sectionals a week or so ago. For quite of few of the high school players, this was their first time playing at Club Sectionals. Not unexpectedly, the team played several college teams and, not unexpectedly, the college teams, some who went to Nationals last year, behaved atrociously. Inappropriate sexual cheers within earshot of parents, trash talking on the field, intimidating my friends team during time outs by surrounding them and singing loudly, etc. Of course, "Its all good", right, dude?

After one game that was particularly horrendous, the college team captain approached my friend, who is a very successful Ultimate coach, and asked if my friend would be interested in coming during the fall and speaking to the team about what it would take to improve, etc. My friend reflected for a moment on the 2 hours of abuse that just occurred, took another look at the costume wearing college team and replied "I don't think so....."


Nathan said...

I am a firm believer that there should be NO HARD CAPS used in UPA series elimination games (or at all at Nationals).

I realize that this _could_ lead to some awful tournament situations. Could. But has it ever? I mean...I have never played in a UPA series event that had a hard cap, and have never seen a major problem. I have never heard of a major problem. Has there been one? If there has, was it more of a problem than (my perception) the huge problem of a team scoring the final goal of a game and losing?

Particular since there is very little enforcement of time limits, the possibility of abuse is huge.

If you are on a team with a 2 goal lead, and the hard cap is approaching, and a bid to Nationals is on the line...there are several things you can do to slow the game down (none of which are good for the sport, I would say).

gapoole said...

You can play to a game total, or play for an allotted time, but trying to do both is a little ridiculous. An elite team can close out a game against a lesser opponent very quickly, which is good for the elite team but arguably bad for both its current opponent and its next (say the team qualifies up for the 2/3 game against the finals loser). Teams who both play great D, or games in poor conditions, will usually go to cap--rarely a satisfying way to end the game. All the solutions I can think of require much more detailed and regulated time-keeping.

I'm surprised no team has yet gained a small lead, then protected it with a pure possession game designed to run out the clock. We were going to try against Slow White after we went up 3 points--the rounds were short and Slow even played zone against us--but some of our players ended up trying too hard to score.

bali_ultimate said...

No team has yet taken advantage of a hard cap and sought to run out a clock? Strategies like time wasting between points (possible even today at many small tournaments), maximum amount of time taken walking to a turnover, huck and zone particularly down wind, etc?

Happens all the time.

Is it smart to not try to score with 30 minutes to go and a three minute lead though? Probably not.

Using the old 90% completion rule you'll turn it over at least once every ten throws. That's less than two minutes eaten up per possession. And could lead to turnovers that give the other team a short field.

The strategy here is to slow the game up in every way possible when you don't have the disc, and when you do have the disc take deep shots when they present themselves. If you don't catch the goal they have to go the maximum distance to score, which should take more time for them. After the goal take as much time as humanly possible getting ready to receive the pull.

Your opponents will hate you for that. And they should. But until hard caps in meaningful games are done away with (or we do something really radical like stop time games) you have to game the system.

And P.s. to george. You and your friend should call out that college team. Why protect their identities?

bali_ultimate said...

woops. That sould be "Three POINT lead" in the third paragraph.

parinella said...

Nathan is right, this is bad. Sports which play to time use "stopped time" (soccer has this nebulous "injury time" which I'm not quite sure what to make of). Even rec basketball leagues which use "running time" generally switch to "stopped time" in the last 2 minutes to prevent stalling when the ball is not live.

In the inaugural Goaltimate tournament, the Founders used a four-corner offense and timeouts to run out the clock against the Condors in the de facto semis.

An alternative solution would be to go to a "plus one" cap instead of "plus two" and/or instituting that cap when the horn goes off rather than at the end of that point.

After looking at the numbers, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you on #1. BU/GOAT is still debatable, but Capitals do indeed seem to have a clear claim to #1 over Brute Squad.

On #3, I don't think this is "wanting it both ways", and if anything it could show the inflexibility of the UPA in retracting a poor policy. Stated business need was to identify players from the front in photos. Photographers and photo-viewers chimed in after implementation to state that this did not accomplish stated need. All acknowledge that this is a minor nuisance to all teams involved. Has there been an actual benefit that has accrued to the UPA or the sport as a result of this policy?

bali_ultimate said...

"soccer has this nebulous "injury time" which I'm not quite sure what to make of."

Not really there to address time wasting. It's, at maximum, five minutes added on at the end of the game, and time wasting/maintaining possession with a lead is a huge part of that faze of the game. You get a strong player with the ball down at the corner flag of the endzone you're attacking, and he basically stands on it until one of the frustrated defenders on the losing team makes a play for the ball and it goes out of bounds. Thow it in, repeat.

gcooke said...


I wrote a bit about "Game Management: a while ago.

There were some comments that "managing" the clock as you speak shall I say it....not representing the best sportsmanship. I think it does happen all the time, but there is no consensus about whether it is "OK".

In terms of the college teams, I didn't have permission from my friend to release their identity. The point of the comment was not really to point a finger at a one I wasn't really trying to "call out" anyone. I am not even sure I know what that means.

In my mind, BU has nothing to do with DoG. This is why, for me, they need to play at Sectionals and get judged for their performance this year.

In terms of #3, I think there has not been enough time to judge whether there has been actual benefit. In terms of "poor policy", does it extend, therefore, that having matching shirts is "bad"? If not, why not?


pizzaslot said...

The double want it both ways. If you make elimination games no cap, then you have the complaint that the loser of finals got caught in a long drawn out uncapped contest, only to have to play the 2nd place game, while the other team has been watching 3-4 hotly contested game points.

parinella said...

Re: that college team. It's possible to get something positive out of it by letting the college team know they were out of line, beyond just simply refusing their offer. They might not be aware that they are so uncool. I talked to some college kid once about his bragging about how rambunctious his team was at the party and how maybe it wasn't such a good thing to do so when there are other people who don't have the same set of values (whether it's a high school team with parents or a wedding party at a hotel).

BU is a combo of DoG and Metal, both of which finished above Goat last year. If you give credit for last year, then BU deserves some of DoG or Metal's credit.

George, you yourself gave an example of excessive uniform rules (underwear), so you agree that there is a limit. One way that this new requirement differs from a shirt requirement is that it requires a special order. Almost every team would already order customized shirts. For shorts, teams might order a bunch from the same catalog, or get special team shorts if they get some kind of deal, or would just tell everyone to get black shorts. To summarize, I see value in the shirts requirement, value that is in excess of the additional costs of it. For shorts, there is minimal value and a nuisance cost. Not to give you any ideas, but I would think that would be more value in standardizing socks and hats than in having shorts numbers. But ok, we'll do it and hope that no one forgets his shorts at the hotel (and we'll hope we make it to a game that requires numbers).

gcooke said...


Thanks for those comments. I think your comments about the college team make a lot of sense. I think it is positive to maintain such a perspective even when annoyed.

Good points about the seeding. My opinion is that the data is good enough that last year's results are pretty much irrelevant.

Again, good points about the unis. I didn't say that the rules about underwear were excessive, though. My point was to say that, from my looking at other organizations rules about uniforms, the UPA rules are pretty relaxed in comparison.


Joaquin said...

At least #s on shorts help ultimate related companies like Five Ultimate. That's a positive effect on the community. It seems like more of these companies are popping up, and that more of them will be successful.


WUFO said...

For never having visited Williams, or ever even talked with a member of the team, you certainly like saying mean things about us on the internet. :(
We talked with the whole team about being appropriate around high schoolers before the tournament started - we might not have been on our best behavior, but we certainly made an effort. If anyone was offended we're sorry - we understand that sometimes we cross the line between being goofy college kids and just being rowdy.
In 2000, during the time out towards the end of the high school national final, all of this anonymous high school's team took the field and formed a wall. They were not actually playing in the game. By any definition that has to be considered less spirited than doing what almost every college team in the region does during timeouts.
re: the numbers on shorts thing: That rule promoted us to do some comparison shopping, and we ended up getting nicer shorts (with fancy numbers on them) than we had for cheaper. So WUFO, at least, has no problems with the new rules.

Are you coming to PV this year? As always, it's going to gorgeous and there's a fun time to be had.


Nathan said...

First, let me just say that this is the first time Jim has ever agreed with me publicly. Of course, my comment was basically exactly what he and I have discussed several times (including over email today), but still...thanks Jim.

Second, let me clarify:
For UPA elimination games, I am in favor of the Soft Cap. For UPA elimination games, I am opposed to the Hard Cap. For other games...I still don't like the Hard Cap, but appreciate it may be necessary in order to fit in a bunch of games (which should be a priority at some tournaments).

gcooke said...

Hi Martin,

Thanks for writing. I believe the only time I have said "mean things" about WUFO was last spring after Yale Cup. I don't "like" saying mean things. I have nothing against Williams. I enjoy it when my girls play Williams as they are competitive, talented, and fun. No issues there at all. As I noted in that post, I think the camaraderie between the Open and Women's squads at Williams is obvious and the energy during a game like the game to go for you guys was intense and fun.

In attending any sporting event, there is a line, as you mention, between rooting for your team, heckling, and outright rudeness. I think we all fall onto different parts of the continuum, so again, where one feels they are crossing the line may be different from where another feels that person has crossed the line.

In terms of last spring, I can say that it was hard to separate the "fun" of having WUFO run up and down the sidelines at full speed from the aggressiveness of those actions in terms of taking over the sideline and creating a physical barrier between our players on the field and those on the sidelines.

In terms of today's post, leaving out the name of the team in question was a deliberate attempt to generalize, either fairly or not, that if you want to be taken seriously...take yourself seriously..especially when the line, however you define it, is in sight.

I will say, though, that I agree with Jim that conversation is positive and prudent. Perhaps we will have a chance to do that sometime.

I will not be able to attend PV with the girls, although it sounds like I might not be welcome. I know the Whips really enjoy the tournament and I am glad that Williams continues to offer them bids even though their coach is old and mean.


Julian said...

Re: Rowdy college kids

I have no real interest in picking on WUFO (despite being a Wesleyan alum), but I think the issue raised by George is an interesting one. Seems to me that there's a lot of poor treatment of overmatched teams by their opponents. I've seen the same thing with good club teams being jerks while playing lesser club teams. It would be in keeping with SotG, heck, it would be in keeping with basic sportsmanship to monitor your behavior and maybe tone it down to fit the context of the game.

I can't speak to this specific incident, so I don't want to sound like I'm pointing a finger here. I just think that treating your opponent with respect is about much more than travel calls and spikes.


WUFO said...

I've never really thought about it, but you're right - I do find it annoying when other teams run up and down the sidelines yelling, and yet I really enjoy doing it myself. It's a real-life Stanford prison experiment of cheering sections.

At the very least, I would not have described a tournament-winning high school team as overmatched against 1/4 of the not-abroad WUFO members.

You're more than welcome at PV (though not the party, for liability reasons). If you ever do make it out to our little neck of the woods, let us know, we'd be more than happy to have your advice (we may be loud and obnoxious but we do recognize good coaching).

gcooke said...


Oops....maybe twice, but, c'mon...that's about formats. I never even mention WUFO.

Thanks for the invitation. I appreciate the comment about liability. My girls are good in that there is a defined buffer between what we do on field and what they do on their own time. They don't even talk about it when I am around.....


Tarr said...

I like both of Jim's ideas (a +1 cap and/or an immediate cap as oppose to at the end of the point) for possible intermediate options between the current "soft" and "hard" cap. I tend to agree that there is something terrible about a team being able to win a bracket game at a UPA event without scoring the last point. That said, if we institute this, we have to accept the possibility of a game going 30 or 40 minutes past the start of the next round.

Will D said...

Hard Caps - I definitely see the arguments both ways, and agree that without active enforcement of time limits during the game and/or a large running clock that teams can refer to, the hard cap in practice can be abused by teams in the lead (at worst), or simply sneak up on teams. That said, they are allowed in the Series b/c to not allow them takes an event management tool out of the hands of the coordinators/TD's who have a tough assignment as it is to run these events. There are strict UPA regulations about how caps should be implemented if used. If teams are aware of the caps and they are implemented correctly, they are less likely to cause problems. And, since someone was asking for an example, I recall a few years ago a game at Mixed sectionals or regionals in the NE being played partially in the dark b/c it and/or preceding games ran long. The game had to be suspended b/c of darkness and the final point or two played the next morning...which obviously was a pretty unsatisfactory way to conclude that game. Point is of course that time limits are important in some situations. How to better implement them is worthy of consideration.

Uniform requirements - I think that the comments about photographers and photo-viewers saying they were not useful is ill- or at least only partially-informed. In my online conversation with one photographer, I noted that 50% of the pictures displayed in one of his gallery of photos had at least one player identifiable only by the number on his/her shorts. That seems pretty effective. Further, coverage of the College Championships in the UPA magazine this year was done more professionally and completely than ever before due to the ease of identifying players in photos. Every college picture in the magazine had player names and descriptive captions as a result. In the past, the inability to ID players led to missing player names in photos, omission of otherwise great pictures from the magazine, or time wasted by staff trying to track down unidentifiable players. Others at the tournament, including stat-keepers and media-types commented that the numbers on the shorts helped them do their jobs.

In fact, many opponents of the numbers on shorts idea are actually fine with the idea of numbers on the front of uniforms in general. They just think it looks bad or is more trouble to put them on shorts than on jerseys. However, this option (jersey fronts) was discussed, and it was thought that more teams would likely have to change their already logoed jerseys to put numbers on them than would have to change their typically blank shorts. The requirement for numbers on shorts also came in conjunction with the new requirement for shorts to be identical, like shirts, and not just the "same color". So, if teams were having to go out and buy matching shorts, the number requirement does not really add much in terms of time or cost.

Just some additional info and perspectives.

Will D

parinella said...

I would be willing to accept an occasional game going 30-40 minutes past the hard cap if it meant that there was a lot fewer games where the loser scored the final point to lose by 1. I wouldn't consider this an absolute requirement, though, so I wouldn't want 100 games to go over if only 1 game did not end that way.

I would also limit this to just elimination games or Sunday bracket games.

Will, thanks for the additional info. I actually hadn't even noticed the "identical" part of the shorts, figuring that if everyone wore black shorts, that'd be fine. I still don't agree with the need, but the number requirement seems more justifiable to me now.

Nathan said...


What is this "Mixed" sectionals or regionals you are talking about? Is that like AA or AAA baseball? Is there an example from a real division?

In all seriousness, I have a vague recollection of that event now that you mention it. To me, that is preferable over the situation that occurred at NW Regionals.

As for numbers on shorts - I am one of the "they just look dumb on shorts" people. Is it feasible to allow either numbers on shorts or numbers on the front of your shirts (as well as on the back of shirts of course)?

gcooke said...

Nathan, never let me down.....

Mixed Regionals 2004 it was.

The obvious difference between that and NW Open was that the former was Saturday evening and not Sun when folks have planes to catch.


Will D said...

A few additional thoughts:

- This is the first time I've ever heard of a hard cap going on between a "double score", during the discussion of a call. Talk about one in a hundred (probably more)! I have certainly seen more uncapped games go into darkness or otherwise cause problems with team/tournament schedules.

- Nathan, I once played in a game at Mardi Gras (UGA vs Wisconsin) that ended in a tie (yes, the only tie in Ultimate I've ever heard of). Down by 3 or 4 at soft cap, no hard cap, we made a huge comeback that continued into dusk and then somewhat beyond. We weren't willing to concede the game b/c we were on a roll. The sweet thing was that it got so dark that once we started scoring, we almost couldn't lose. We kept pulling and Wisconsin couldn't see to string together two passes. We'd get a turn outside of their goal and eventually punch it in. Then repeat. Once we tied it, we conceded it was too dark to play and called it a game. Silly.

- YCC/Easterns/Westerns would be pretty much impossible to run without hard caps b/c of travel issues, the number of games on the weekend to make it worth the trip, and the fact that it sometimes takes these young teams a long time to score points (especially if it's windy).

- The NW has been using hard caps for years in the Series...while much of the rest of the country manages somehow to avoid them. Might be a regional/cultural difference that some places are more OK with than others. I always figured it was good to have as an option, but not a requirement. Anyway, the situation this year was the first one that has really spurred discussion about changing the rule itself, rather than just using or not using hard caps as they currently exist. I think this year's is an extreme example, but that said, there are other compelling arguments against the current rule.

- I think that the idea of a modified hard cap rule has merit. Someone who really feels strongly about it should submit something to the SRC. Maybe something to look at for the next revision. The rule should keep in mind though the need to finish games up relatively quickly.

- As for requiring the same exact shorts. If everyone would truly have just worn the same color shorts, it would have been fine. But when half a team has solid black, 3 guys have one white stripe down the side, another guy has 3 stripes, 2 guys have white trim, and another guy has a giant orange tournament logo on the leg...and then they end up on TV or DVD' just looks bad. Arguably not as bad as mismatched hats...but we're not quite there.

- I also think there is merit to the idea that teams be allowed to put numbers on the front of jerseys or shorts. Something that will certainly be discussed in the off-season. (Although I wonder if that will look bad to have it all mixed up.) We stuck with shorts this year b/c of the new matching requirement and b/c we figured most teams have jerseys with logos printed on the front already.

Will D