Beyond spirit

Spirit is the best thing about Ultimate.

We want to create an environment that encourages the players to have great spirit and make honest calls. 

From WFDF Spirit page:

“All players are responsible for administering and adhering to the rules. Ultimate relies upon a Spirit of the Game that places the responsibility for fair play on every player. It is trusted that no player will intentionally break the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for breaches, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner which simulates what would most likely have occurred had there been no breach.

Highly competitive play is encouraged, but should never sacrifice the mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed-upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play.”

What is important to us in a pro-style league is the fair play aspect of spirit. As with any sport, the quality of refereeing is key to having a fair game. Referees need to make accurate and fair judgements on the play to ensure that the “most correct” outcome is achieved.  We do not want championship points decided by bad calls.  It is no different with Ultimate apart from the fact that the players do the refereeing. We want to create an environment where players are incentivised to be fair in their refereeing and that there is a strong disincentive to make bad calls or to cheat.

So what if we broke a game down to the individual refereeing acts of the players and assessed their effectiveness as referees of the game.  In major sporting leagues, the referees are coached, given feedback and rewarded for being good at what they do. In the many sports, the best referees are rewarded at the end of the season with the opportunity to referee the biggest games.

So what if we judged the players on their individual performance as referees of the game and rewarded them accordingly.

Picture by Klára Lipertová for Windmill.

Measuring Spirit on a Player level

The advantage of having every game on tape is that we can review and rate calls made in the game on an individual player level.  A panel of experts or fans can review the calls and rate them on accuracy, generosity and spirit.

Giving Fans the ability to vote on the spirit

Another idea we have is to have fans (people who have bought memberships of the teams.) vote on their opinion of the spirit of a team. We could use this in addition to the team's spirit scores for each other (WFDF System.)

Spirit Multiplier

The spirit multiplier is a factor that (one day when we have big prize money) we can use to calculate the teams share of the prize money and the individuals share.

Let's say you as a player have very good spirit.  At the start of the season, they start with 5/10 spirit as a starting point.  By the end of the season, they made some fair calls and their spirit score goes up to 8/10. However the team as a whole was not as spirited so they had 4/10 spirit (Combination of other teams spirit scores and spirit scores from the fans. Let's say the starting prize money per player is €500.  8 +4 averages out to 6 spirit score. The player's prize money would be €1000 (Max prize money for 10/10 spirit) x (6/10) €600.

Another player with not so good spirit on the same team had 3/10 spirit. Their prize money would be 4+3 an average of 3.5 with prize money of €350

We are working with some knowledgeable spirit folks to define how this works. Happy to take any suggestions if you have them! Start the discussion with us on the Facebook post of this blog.

All this encourages teams to be honest and spirited and encourages members to select spirited players for their team. Spirit is just as big—or maybe even bigger—of a prize than the standings. Good and popular behaviour is rewarded on and off the field. 

Originally posted on the UltiLeague blog, written by Mike and Milan.