Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spirit of The Game: A New Low for Soccer/Football


A classic story. France commits three violations (off side, two deliberate handballs) and directly scores a goal to tie Ireland. The goal is allowed to stand, and France unfairly beats Ireland on aggregate (that means they played two games and emerged victorious by goal differential/tie break). The referees seem to be absent on the play, missing all these infractions.

Why the uproar you ask? Why should Ireland care about losing a British game (Seriously, there are beautiful Irish stadiums throughout the country that forbid any sort of British based games to be played in them.. stemming from the famine and occupation atrocities of past centuries.. i digress.) to the French?

The key is what was at stake.

Despite the fact that gaelic football is more important than football/soccer, the Irish wanted to be part of the World Cup. Every country does. It's a global status symbol, and there is significant money involved.

FIFA likes to call their sport "the beautiful game" but sometimes it can be quite ugly. We have a world full of countries that raise players to dive and over exaggerate infractions to draw fouls. We have an outdated extra time system that makes no sense to the outside world. We have no replay or challenge mechanism in this day and age where these tools can easily be used to right the wrongs of normal human referee mistakes. I could go on with more stories of corruption and cheating throughout the world in this sport. It's not beautiful... it's downright ugly.

Ultimate... In the Same Position?

I can't be blind and say that ultimate and ultimate players are above making the wrong calls in games of importance. Put a worlds bid on the line and take out observers and cameras and we would have a much different game than we would otherwise.

However, I can say that ultimate has the following going for it

-Spirit of the Game, I think, has curtailed a lot of the incentive to cheat in most ultimate games. I rely on my opponent to make the right calls, and if order to do so I must in turn make the right calls as well. We can't rely on a 'parent' (observer) to step in.
-We're certainly open to using instant replay.. as was seen at CUC 2009.
-Our observer program seems to be growing and we are growing the pool of observers available for tournaments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Using Stats to Make a Roster Decision: An NFL Example


A group of local ultimate "think tank" members (as we're dubbed) have been geeking out over a very cool site called Pro Football Focus.

Looking at the best and worst players at each position this year, one of the thinkers asked where Cleveland Browns QB Brady Quinn would fall in the ratings of quarterbacks.

It's very true that Quarterbacks rely on many teammates for success. Receivers much catch, people must block, and people need to run the plays as directed in order to get success. However, QBs remain the most important people on the field and have greater control over the outcome of the game than any other player.

Sounds like a main offensive Handler's role in ultimate, no?

I went to the pro football focus site and looked for methodology... and didn't get much in order to answer the Quinn question. Looking for the Wages of Wins QB ratings, I ended up on a new site that builds on the wages of wins football measure (unlike the basketball wages of wins, the NFL model has been criticized).

I took their formula (the model looks legit) and came up with the following 2009 wins produced of Quinn, Derek Anderson and Peyton Manning

Advanced NFL Stats= Brady Quinn versus Derek Anderson

QB Wins Added
Brady Quinn -1.542092593
Derek Anderson -3.963324675
Peyton Manning +3.300733894

Formula: QB Wins Added = (Comp% * 0.18) - (Int/Att * 50.5) - (Sack Yds/Att * 1.57) - 8

-Brady Quinn will lose 1.5 games more than the average quarterback based on his current performance
-Derek Anderson will lose 3.96 games more than the average
-Brady should continue to start, as he is the best of two below average options
-Peyton Manning is over 3 wins better than the average quarterback.

How it Applies to Ultimate?

I wish it did apply more. Right now, the best we have for stats is a clipboard or iphone used during the game, trying to capture everything under time pressure. It's easy to miss stuff and accurately measure what's really happening.

If you are doing stats already, and have data on your teams, please send it my way!

I will re-ask people to consider the following
-video tape their teams games
-break their games down play by play and stat by stat
-Work together with other teams to build a data set of a particular division to determine the average performance of players in a particular division/level

If that was done, we could move forward with a formula to determine whether players were average or below average on defense and offense.

Coordinating teams might be a problem, and one team breaking down video for all other teams is too much of a workload. However, teams like DoG have been using data for years to make better decisions about who's contributing.

It's time for teams to build on this. Don't wait for other teams to do it first and gain the advantage.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ultimate Canada Conference 2009- Weekend of Progress


This weekend I attended and presented at the annual CUPA conference. Dubbed the Ultimate Canada Conference, it was held in Montreal.

The location and venues were appropriate. The conference was held on site at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) campus in downtown Montreal. The academic setting was perfect for the informative sessions, and it represented ultimate well- Good central location that was economical and practical. Ultimate doesn't need to pay to host their conference in the main ballroom of the Hilton.

Here were the highlights for the 50+ delegates that represented the NSO/PSOs and member city leagues..

-CUPA has voted to change their name to Ultimate Canada.
-Amazing delegate package featuring shorts and hoodies from 5 Ultimate, Jersey from VC Ultimate and disc from Daredevil
-Great presentations on topics such as youth development, innovative ultimate programs like the carbon flip and wheelchair ultimate
-Group brainstorming session regarding national plans and priorities
-A pickup wheelchair ultimate session participated in by all delegates

In the coming weeks, I will try to ensure that the conference presentations are available via the web, and I'll dedicated some posts specifically to discuss and highlight some key parts of the weekend.

Overall, outside of the fun/antics, this was the results of the weekend
  • We had a record number of delegates
  • We had an amazing chance for stakeholders of the game to meet and get to understand what is going on outside our region
  • Our leagues throughout the country got many opportunities to learn and provide feedback on what they see and what they want to see from the NSO moving forward
Thanks to Montreal Ultimate for once again being a great host.