Fouls are going to happen. There is no denying that. Ultimate is a sport in which extremely athletic and competitive people are flying around a 70 yard field chasing after a flying plastic disc. That being said, we think that something does need to be done about the way that fouls are handled.
We found two good examples of things that we want to discuss about fouls and ultimate and we found them in basketball. We chose basketball because, in our opinion, its play and foul system is most similar to Ultimate. Soccer would be nice but, we just couldn’t stand to sift through all the flops and fakes in order to find actual examples of fouls we were looking for.
In our first video is something that we are afraid of, it’s not the severity of the foul, it’s the language of the announcers. Immediately after a hard foul the announcers begin lauding Elton Brand because his foul was merited. Ronny Turiaf (whom no one has taken seriously since he arrived on the scene in college at Gonzaga) prances around with a 20-point lead after Luke Walton drains a jump shot. Brand takes exception to this and throws Turiaf to the floor at the next opportunity he gets.
This is ridiculous. We hope that something like this never becomes commonplace in Ultimate. Though we fear that as the strength of competition arises, it may very well happen. Ultimate, for the moment, seems safe from the paradigm of, “fouls are a way to get your point across” or “fouls are part of the game, using them is a strategy.”
Those two statements seem beyond ridiculous to me. Only in the realm of sports is this acceptable. Fouls are called that because they are foul. They are bad, they are illegal, they are against the rules and no one should foul purposefully. Think about if this applied to other parts of life.
Police Officer: Do you realize that you were driving 95 in a 25 School Zone?
Perpetrator: It’s strategy.
Jim: Hey! I’ve been waiting for these Harry Potter movie tickets for three days! You can’t just walk up five minutes before the movie starts and jump in front of me!
Tim: Sorry Jim, no easy buckets.
It just doesn’t work. Fouls should be respected as something that should not, under any avoidable circumstance, happen. Obviously fouls are to be expected, however they should not come at the expense of another’s safety or the integrity of the game.
Here’s something that must be done in Ultimate. How it should be done? We don’t really know at this point but it should be done. Shaq was immediately ejected for a foul that is obviously dangerous and has no regard for the safety of the other player. Fouls in Ultimate lack accountability and this is because of self-officiating. While its hard to find a solution for this, one must be found.
It’s currently impossible to have observers at every game but tournaments should be providing a staff that is large enough that if observers are ever requested, some could be provided. At the very least, the tournament director him/herself should be willing to watch a game at any time in order to ensure its fairness and legitmacy.
These observers/staff at tournaments should be endowed with the right and responsibility to eject or penalize players who are playing dangerously or in any way that is contrary to the Spirit of the Game. Obviously these fouls would have to be egregious and you could run into some trouble with TD’s have allegiances to certain teams at tournaments. The big problem is, there is currently no accountability at most games.
We’re not asking for referees. We’re simply asking for some sense of accountability. We love Ultimate, but we don’t want to see this game turn into a game where hard, retaliation fouls are acceptable or a game where players don’t fear the repercussions of their actions.