Monday, October 19, 2009


At high levels of competitive Ultimate frisbee things can get heated, and the Spirit of the Game which usually suffices for players to self-referee becomes a little shaky. That is why there are Observers, referee-like people whose job it is to be an on-field reference and argument decider in the case of unsolvable disputes. Other than in and out of bounds, in and out of the endzone, and keeping time between points, the Observers make no active calls; they must be asked by the players to make a ruling.

Sam and I went down to a college tournament this weekend to be certified as Observers. We spent six hours in a classroom Saturday, discussing the finer points of rules, positioning, and Observer duties. Then we observed experienced Observers at work on the field. On Sunday, we each Observed four games. After passing two tests and one on-field evaluation, we became certified.

It's completely different playing in a game of Ultimate than it is Observing a game. You must concentrate on a several places, actions, and players at once while running to position yourself in the best line of sight for any forming play which might involve a foul, pick, or anything else. It is both physically and mentally tiring. But it is lots of fun, especially when you get to be the authority on a field with a bunch of haughty college kids.

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