Playing with Spirit
‘Spirit of the Game’ is a fundamental guiding concept of Ultimate Frisbee, and its widespread practice has facilitated the thriving of the sport as a fair and fun competition.
The TUC leadership has placed a strong emphasis on the upholding of exemplary standards for individual and team spirit, despite rapid growth and a player base of increasingly variable levels. Towards achievement of this goal, TUC has a Spirit Chair Committee, the Chair of which will communicate directly with the League GM to monitor Spirit issues, and to investigate new ways to infuse Spirit into the TUC experience.
Impacting individual spirit from a third-party position is a challenging task. Towards this goal, the following actions have been implementedin 2012. Strong emphases are placed on the direct communication to beginner players of Spirit standards, on a more responsible grading system, on a reward system, and on an improved monitoring and management of trouble teams and players.
A How-To Guide
by John Harris
Some players say that it is easy to play with Spirit - all you have to do is follow the rules. But I believe SOTG is way more than this, and is quite difficult to do all the time. Here is my list of 5 steps needed to fully play with Spirit. Each step is challenging, but Step 4 is by far the hardest.
I have phrased all the steps in the first person ("I will ...") to emphasize the point that only an individual player is able to change his or her own actions and attitudes. When all players in a game are following step 1 to 5, then the game will truly be Spirited.
Step 1: I will try not to break the rules
Step 1 is more difficult than it sounds. First of all, you must know the rules before you can be sure you are not breaking them. Unfortunately, some of the rules are a bit ambiguous and interpretations are debated by even the most experienced of players. My overriding philosophy is that "whatever is the most fair" is usually the correct interpretation of a rule. Secondly, you must make the decision to watch yourself all the time to make sure you don't accidentally break a rule.
Step 1 is absolutely necessary before you can go to Step 2.
Step 2: I will not allow myself to get away with breaking the rules
Step 2 really tests your personal integrity. You might be the only player who realizes you've broken a rule. Force yourself to admit it (at least to yourself). Don't allow yourself to get away with breaking even the smallest rule. In some sports breaking the rules is allowed; players might even be convinced that "if the referee didn't see it, it didn't happen". In Ultimate you are referee. So if you saw it, then you did not get away with it. Part of being a Spirited player means being an honest player.
Step 3: I will encourage my teammates to follow steps 1 & 2. I will tell them when I think they are not.
Here things get a little tricky. I am not saying that you have to jump on your teammates for every little infraction. If they do break a rule without realizing, it is helpful for someone to let them know. This will allow them to improve their game. This goes against a common belief that you should support your teammates in every situation. But if your teammate is wrong then you should make it your responsibility to tell them. They are more likely to respond well if they hear it from you, then if they hear it from an opponent.
Step 3 is more important than you think. The most effective way for improving Spirit is peer pressure and this pressure works better when coming from teammates than when coming from opponents.
Now is Step 4, which in my opinion is the hardest of all.
Step 4: I will believe that ALL players (myself, my teammates, and my opponents) are doing their best to follow steps 1, 2, and 3
Step 4 is what SOTG is all about. When everyone on the fields is following Step 4, it is fantastic. There still might be rule infractions, but the players involved will resolve situations quickly and amicably.
Step 5: I will accept that different perspectives will see different outcomes
Step 5 doesn't work unless you believe Step 4. Even when you believe step 4 there will still be disagreements. Line calls are a perfect example of differing opinions on the field. A player catches a disc close the side line - in or out? Sometimes these calls can be very close. Even with linesmen and professional referees (e.g. pro football), line calls are sometimes unclear.
OK, this was pretty long winded, but I hope that it makes a little sense to somebody. In some ways, playing with SOTG is more difficult than playing without (e.g. where referees make the calls so players don't have to). However, I believe the extra effort is well worth it.
John C Harris
"Spirit of the Game" - Always play with Spirit!