an invisible power shift in WFTDA derby officiating

Is your league struggling to find refs and NSOs for games? Does it seem like all the experienced ones are “busy that weekend”?

It’s been building for a while, but this season we seem dramatically closer to “peak derby schedule” than last year. Between A, B, rec, juniors, men’s, tournaments, etc there are more games being played every weekend than ever before.

But there aren’t more experienced refs and NSOs to work those games.

I’m not going to get into why the number of officials hasn’t increased, not yet at least. What I want to talk about are the choices this allows officials to make.

Good officials now have 2 or 3 or 5 games to choose from within their travel distance almost every weekend.

To begin understanding which ones they will decide to work, you have to understand why officials officiate.

Just like improving their ranking is more important to most teams than an individual win or loss, the goal of most officials isn’t just doing a good job at their position in your game. It is improving their resume. A better resume gets them staffed in higher level games and tournaments and both of those give them the opportunity to improve their skills, to be the best they can be.

Of course that’s not the only factor in play here. There’s also certs and evals to think about, but that process is so broken it’s going to have to wait for another time.

I can’t sum it up better than what an NSO told me the other day when talking about which game she was going to do next:

“(League A) is a 3 hour drive away. They give a good travel stipend, feed us well, are genuinely appreciative that we volunteer our time to make their games happen, their HNSO puts together tournament-level NSO crews for almost every game. She demands competence, but is easy to work with. Working their games improves my skills and looks good on my resume. They do all the paperwork, correctly. There are very few game delays due to NSO issues, and when they do have them they’re resolved quickly.”

“(League B) is a 10 minute drive away. They act like we should be thanking them for the opportunity to work their games. They struggle to get bodies in all the NSO positions, much less people who know what they’re doing. Its fresh meat and derby widows who don’t care about doing the job beyond the bare minimum. There are always multiple time outs for fixing problems with the score board, penalty tracking, etc. Their HNSO doesn’t know how to do half the paperwork. All sorts of issues are missed, some of which impact game play. I end up a worse NSO after working their games because of the chaos and disorganization. It’s a waste of my time.”

Guess which one she’ll be working for this weekend?

Which gets us back to my initial point…Leagues haven’t figured out that the officiating environment they’ve cultivated is now, more than ever, determining the quality of officials they get because competent officials have a ton of options for which games they choose to work.

All the posts you see about “being more polite” to officials aren’t addressing 10% of the issue. And until more people realize that, at the league level and at the level of how rules and procedures are structured (also a subject for another post), nothing is going to get better.

Cobra Kai analysis

Ok, so Viro was dissing my Cobra Kai boys last night (oh no he di'n’t!) so I thought I’d write out an analysis of all the guys. Here goes…

Johnny: Well, he had to be first didn’t he. I mean, he was the leader of the Cobras, a complete shit head and Daniel’s nemesis. Well of COURSE he was Daniel’s nemesis. Daniel built and nailed his own coffin within 0.1 seconds of Johnny seeing him by coming onto Ali. Motivation behind Johnny’s hatred of him already established. Beforehand, what was it he was saying again…?

Tommy: Johnny, you’re kidding!? You’re still the ace degenerate.
Johnny: No! Ex-degenerate, man! 8:00 am tomorrow I’m a senior. I’ve got one year to make it all work. And that’s what I’m gonna do. Make it work.

So he was briefly aiming to straighten himself out but that went out the window when he saw another guy taking his girlfriend away.

Next, although it’s not actually mentioned in the film (a failure on the director’s part) Johnny had a pretty unhappy home life. His father was either shit or simply not there and his mother didn’t have time for him. Therefore, Karate was the only thing he really had to make him feel good about himself so he trained religiously and Kreese was really the only father figure he had. Johnny, in the film is about 17 years old and already a black belt so he started karate at a really young age so was conditioned pretty early on that violence was ok by a big, strong, alpha male type guy who Johnny looked up to as the closest thing to a Dad that he had.  At the end of the film when he’s told to “Sweep the leg”, he started to understand that it was wrong but, at the same time, he wanted to make his “Dad” proud so did it anyway (probably what triggered the tears at the end when he handed the trophy over to Daniel. The loss alone wouldn’t have reduced a guy of that age and with that much pride so there had to be another reason for it).

Yes, Johnny may have been rich but, when your parents don’t care about you, life becomes really empty, no matter how much you buy to try and fill that void. And so we see the reason that Johnny

  • Trained so long and so hard to become a champion twice over
  • Idolised Kreese
  • Gathered his own gang to replace the connection he should have had with his parents

Bobby: He is easily the most down-to-Earth out of the Cobras. He has a pretty normal home life. He’s just training because he enjoys it as a sport. When the other Cobras are picking on Daniel, Bobby is slightly torn. Being so close to Johnny he can kind of understand his motives and doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of him either but, at the same time, he doesn’t want things to get too far. When he’s told to put Daniel out of commission in the tournament he actually puts up more of a fight with Kreese than Johnny does because he has less of a reason to keep him happy. The only reason he does it in the end is fear. Just before he does it you see him glance over at Kreese with fear on his face. Then, after doing as he’s been ordered he immediately drops to his knees and apologises over and over to Daniel.

Tommy: Here’s the only Cobra who his genuinely psychotic. You can imagine Tommy as the kind of kid who would sit in the garden pulling bugs apart to watch them wriggle in agony. He enjoys seeing other people in pain. Chances are he’s been pretty much neglected too, allowed to just sit and watch TV all day. He probably didn’t exactly help himself either. He likely put nasty creatures/substances in his parents’ shoes/beds/shampoo bottles etc. to see how they’d react. He never really grew up after a certain point so still has the idea that hitting people is funny. He’s still the bratty little kid in the playground who pushed girls over then ran away laughing as they cried their eyes out. This can be clearly seen on several occasions in the film including when Johnny gets Bobby to trip Daniel in the soccer try-outs and during the Halloween fight. Both times, Tommy doesn’t actually join in with the fight (in fact, during the try-outs he actually pulls Daniel away after a time) but, instead, just stands there laughing.

Dutch: His Dad is probably great buddies with Kreese (they may have even served with each other in the army) so he eggs his son on when it comes to his karate lessons and encourages his violent behaviour by telling him “Let them have it! They deserve it! Show ‘em who’s boss! That’s my boy!” His Dad may even have been violent towards his mother verbally so he would have been born into a male-dominated-survival-of-the-fittest-kill-the-weak environment. He’s not as struck by how Kreese acts at the end of the film because that’s what he’s used to already and simply doesn’t see it as anything particularly unusual. 

Jimmy: Otherwise known as the Cobra no-one knew was there. Jimmy was the quiet one. He was likely the one who knew he’d get a beating if he said anything out of turn so, instead, opted to let the others lead while he melted into the background and just used the other Cobras as a shield. He probably didn’t agree with Johnny and Kreese’s philosophy but knew better than to voice that. He stayed with the Cobra’s purely because there was no-one out there who bullied them so they were the guys to stick around with if you got in with them. He was just covering his own ass.

So there we go. My own take on my boys :) Some may think differently but, if you DO comment, please be kind. It’s just an opinion.