My name is Liam Kelly. I was one of the four Game Advisers in the open final of the World U23 Ultimate Championships in London. I was also a Game Adviser in the first experiment in Lecco. Over the past year, WFDF asked me to recruit people to work as Game Advisers at Worlds, and help to train them with Greg Connelly.
During the Open final between USA and Canada, there was a Spirit of the Game time out.
It was pretty clear from the commentary that no one actually expected something like that to happen. The assumption was made that it was one of the Game Advisers who made the decision. In fact it was the USA Spirit captain who called it. Here is my perspective of the game and circumstances and consequences of that action.
Throughout, the game was very competitive. Both teams were playing aggressively in their attempts to score, as well as some of their plays on defence. It’s clear though that some isolated plays, particularly a few layouts resulting in collisions by team USA players, crossed a line.
One of the roles of the Game Adviser is to keep an eye on conduct issues. You can see on the YouTube playback that the GA’s checked in with one another a number of times throughout the match, particularly around those instances of contact. However there is also plenty that is unseen. One of those unseen interventions is the direct feedback given to players, from the GA(s), who were closest to those bids. This ranged from reminders to them to take more care, all the way to a stern warning.
“Play the game you’ll be proud of.”
The feedback was not always clearly heeded, and in the second half of the game the USA Spirit Captain thought it was time to deal with the situation more directly. The move gave both teams a moment to regroup, knowing the game clock wasn’t ticking. Following this, the teams came together for a mid-game spirit circle. The Game Advisers, captains and coaches gathered in a different circle. Head GA Greg Connelly gave a quick recap of the incidents, and outlined the expectations of both teams’ conduct for the rest of the game. “Play the game you’ll be proud of,” was the standout message from Greg.
It was great to see that the Spirit Timeout didn’t sap the competitive air from the field. There were still bids, big plays, and celebrations following the timeout. The action wasn’t taken because the game was poorly spirited. Following a few incidents that happened on the field, the players felt they wanted to “nip it in the bud” and address it to save the game. It was clear that both teams respected each other, both before and after the timeout.
Massive respect to the players themselves for feeling they were just as well placed, and as empowered as the coaches and game officials, to make such a decision.