I’ve noticed a lot of scuttlebutt on the LOBP (ALL HAIL) boards about the need to enforce rules and have refs who know what is going on. Most of the conversation (at least this round of it, as it’s always discussed here and there) came after ESPI 7, though in being there I can say that the volunteer refs did a great job.
Read: I was one of the volunteer refs for 7 or 8 games.
1. Refs are only volunteering
2. Refs aren’t completely clear on the rules
3. Players don’t particularly care/understand
4. Refs fear making a wrong call
5. Everyone is drunk
When you look at that list, there are clearly some things that won’t change anytime soon (number 5, for instance, jumps out at me. So does number #1). I don’t want to spend anytime rehashing things I’ve seen others post on the boards, but rather explore three possible future outcomes that I think could happen.
1. Professional/Full-Time Refs
Ok – I hear you. Yes. Yes. Of course. I understand. Uh-huh. I get wha-STOP INTERRUPTING ME WHILE I’M SPEAKING YOU CLOWN.
So one of the possible outcomes in the future is having full-time refs (by this I mean refs who aren’t playing in the tourney at all and are solely there to ref). The benefits are pretty obvious: you’ll actually have refs. Refs who don’t try to scuttle away in between games.
The problem is that no current player is willing to drop their mallet and become a ref – yet. I know that as we all get older, fatter, and less interested in moving, there will probably be a few of us who are still interested in the sport – and then you’ll have your experienced refs, beer guts and all.
Again, we’ll run into the problem of having folks who are volunteering their time, and the idea of paying someone to ref is like oil and water in bike polo currently. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a group of refs to be formed up and paid for services rendered.
2. NAH Makes Money – Pays for Tourneys – Enforces rules
This piggybacks off of the point above, but consider what would happen if the NAH was able to go to a hosting club, lay down some buckskins, and say “we’ll sponsor ½ of this tourney (or whatever) as long as you can enforce NAH rules.”
What’s cool about this solution: if you’re an old school player who thinks the NAH is fiddling in things they shouldn’t, you can just have your own tourney. If you’re not a moron, though, you can take the money and save your own.
I’m sorry – did I show my opinion, there? My B, yo.
Seriously though: a big problem is how little power the NAH has. Money walks, and until they start making dough to throw at tourney organizers and refs, the rules they create are more like guidelines, really.
3. Players get serious, call penalties while reffing, and listen to refs while playing
This one is probably the most likely to happen in the short term – though I’m not holding my breath, either.
The idea is simple: we all agree that we should enforce the NAH rules as best we can, enable the refs to make calls when players break those rules, and abide by calls made against us. A sporting agreement to make sure everyone is playing with the same rule set.
The reason this is the most likely to happen is because it doesn’t cost any money to do, it simply requires people who have some integrity. I know some of you are out there.
So those are basically three out of a gazillion possible outcomes for our little Nationwide polo problem. What are some other ones?