How to Cheat to Win (Without Cheating)

by | May 7, 2014, 6:07am 5

Editor’s note: Lou is taking a one month sabbatical to focus on College Nationals. Win the Fields will return June 4. In the meantime, we will run some classic articles. This one was originally posted here.

There is sportsmanship, which in our little sport is embodied in Spirit of the Game, and then there is gamesmanship. Sportsmanship is the ideal of playing within the rules (and the customary understanding of them) because it is the right thing to do. It is concern and respect for your opponent. Gamesmanship is looking at the rules in a lawyerly way, analyzing them and finding opportunities to exploit them. It is looking at the customary ways rules are enforced and tweaking them to advantage. It is always looking to see rules enforced to one’s own advantage, rather than impartially, evenly and fairly.

Ultimate’s system of self-officiating opens huge doors to gamesmanship that are not open in other sports. It also creates a moral dilemma for teams and individuals. In the NFL, when a coach calls a last minute timeout to ice a kicker it is considered good strategy. In ultimate, if you call a double time-out to throw off another team’s rhythm, you’re an asshole.

After the debacle of the CUT-Florida final last spring, I had a long conversation with Scoops (Greg Connelly) about SofG. One of his observations (which I agreed with) was that SotG was stronger in club ultimate than college. (Note: this is only true of Men’s. Women’s ultimate has a strong and thriving sense of SotG at all levels.) This is odd, because the level of gamesmanship is so much higher in club than college. Those crafty vets know all the moves – shouldn’t that make their SotG worse? SotG is an agreement between the players and the teams; an agreement of what is and isn’t accepted. (This is why behavior that is perfectly acceptable at College Nationals is taboo at city league.) At the Club level, there is widespread agreement that gamesmanship is part of ultimate and, therefore, ok. If I was dumb enough to be marking tight on stalling 7, I knew I had to accept the bullshit pivot-foul-call from the thrower. I knew if I tried to go up line on a Monkey, they’d try to knock me down. But as they say, “If it’s in the game…” Contrastingly, in college ultimate, there’s no consensus on what should and shouldn’t be ok and everyone takes it way too seriously.

This series of articles is my attempt to help with that problem a little bit. My hope is that by understanding the particular techniques of gamesmanship, they will be less effective and that people will have a bit more perspective about them.

Up next: Drama

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  • At first when I read this title I thought "Go onnnn." But Lou is completely right the general consensus is that there are going to be people who draw tiny fouls on purpose. At the time, 2010, Lou argued College players were less excepting of the small lean in, contact and bumping on purpose to draw fouls. Now 2014, has it really been this long, more College players are open to play like this and yes while you see some testosterone induced arguments and 'soccer pleas' to observers, games at Nationals are the closest looking to Club because the vets and players at that level more than likely play Club as well and are used to the drawing of fouls or 'strategies'.

  • Guest

    Love that picture of Shellie

  • guest

    While not being a seasoned vet (just a first year college player), yet, I recognized through reading the rules how much you could game them to your advantage but I think a lot of this comes from most players not properly knowing the rules rather than any kind of acceptance (at least for college). Almost no mark is ever legal (since the kids don't read marking rules) so a pivot here or there to draw contact resets your count until the guy realizes he needs to step back. Knowing the rules well in college can honestly give you a big leg up; that's why I always try to get my teammates to read the rules closely.

  • "After the debacle of the CUT-Florida final last spring, I had a long conversation with Scoops (Greg Connelly) about SofG."

    Up next : editing

  • You can win the game by cheating, But that will not reward you morally still you will loser, Sportsman Ship is the basis of win which works on the some rules and principals, I think Win should give you relax and joy and that can be earned by hard work and by following true principals