Andrew Francis from Madison, Alabama, writes to say:
I have what I think is a great idea for a podcast episode. I play and am a huge fan of ultimate (ultimate frisbee to most people, but Frisbee is technically a copyright of Wham-O). The sport is the perfect place for an experiment. In all games, there are no referees actively making every call. Players call all their own fouls and settle disputes between themselves on the field. If someone makes a bad call, you can argue it all you want to. If they stick with their call after the discussion and the parties can’t agree, ultimate has what I like to call the “magical do-over” that no other sport has. The disc just goes back to the person who had it prior to whatever infraction was called, and you begin play from that spot.
In the major club and college tournaments (and now filtering down into the low-mid level tournaments), the use of observers (see the USAU definition) has become a common place. Players still call the majority of infractions, but when two players don’t agree on a call, the observers will step in and make a ruling.
The reason I think the two of you would be interested in this is because observers actually make very few calls per game, but the number of bogus fouls, travels, etc. decrease drastically. Players know that any questionable calls they make will just be overturned. The mere presence of a neutral third party who might make a call makes players play the game in a cleaner, more honest fashion.
What do you say — is this good stuff for a podcast? Let’s not forget that there are other sports that are self-policing — except when they are not.