Discussion: Criticism of Officials
in: Orienteering; General;
I've been involved in several all-volunteer organizations, one of which is also a competitive sporting organization. There is always a small group that do not volunteer, or who don't volunteer much, but who participate regularly and who firmly believe that those who do volunteer are incompetent. As in most sports, the prime object of this criticism are the referees. The critics broadcast their opinions widely. They tend to do so because they can't help themselves (rants during or immediately following competition are the most common). Other critics will claim they must expose the incompetence for the good of the sport.
These people are seldom "wrong". The error they see is obvious. An official calls a foul where there was none. A referee misinterprets a rule, and it changes the outcome of the game. In most sports, both amateur and professional, rants by the athletes or team officials are banned, and subject to discipline.
High school coaches can and are suspended for for tweeting about bad refereeing, even where the referee's was undeniable, and even where the wrong team wins the game, or a championship. Suspensions are not for about who is right or wrong, but for stating or insinuating incompetence or bias. Suspensions are essentially for being obnoxious, for not being respectful, for not being courteous.
Rules discouraging criticism are reasonably common across sports, both amateur and professional, where there is a governing body that promulgates rules. And there is a reason for the rules: It is actually more harmful to the sport to allow competitors to express themselves in tactless or obnoxious ways than are the errors themselves. I think it is potentially more harmful in the case of orienteering, where all or substantially all of the meet officials are volunteers.
I am not sure whether a rule is necessary or appropriate. I am not advocating for a new rule. I am suggesting a more positive attitude and a greater appreciation for volunteers.
It's just so nice to think over this time and time again!
I entirely agree. The discussion on Attackpoint has been very nasty recently. It has been very unconstructive and unhelpful.
Ditto to Hammer and feet...
I've said for years that I would NEVER encourage an orienteering newbie to come to Attackpoint.
Thanks for stating what should be obvious.
Agreed. Recognizing that many around here have competed or contributed at the highest levels of the sport, and that many others are aiming to, a certain amount of passion is to be expected. But please do keep the discussion threads respectful and constructive; personal insults are absolutely not ok.
Save the attack for your next control.
Agree about the insulting tone that can come with a lot of these kind of arguments.
But, I totally disagree about brushing things under the carpet. You say sports coaches get banned for moaning about referees? I assume they are saying pretty nasty stuff, because without constructive criticism of volunteers (when they get it really wrong) they will simply make the same mistake again. If I make a mistake I want to know about it so I don't do it again.
So maybe write a constructive email to the event director instead of blasting the event in a public forum?
But a constructive e mail doesn't get the message out to the organisers of next year's meet. You may argue that AP doesn't either, there has to be a balance between private criticism and constructive arguments to take on board for others.
Having said that, despite normally being a rather large complainer, even I have felt a bit put off by the tone of some of the criticism. I would like to make it known that I had an excellent time in Georgia, met some lovely people, was treated well by the officials I dealt with, and appreciated the time put into the event by everyone, including the mapper/course setter. It was great to experience an area that was completely alien to me in terrain type. I wasn't a big fan of Mister Vine though.
I think the single, most important point to take forward is one that Ed already mentioned and I did too - it should be written into a rule somewhere for events of this size that the mapper and course setter should not be the same person, unless the map is ten years or so old and has already undergone many races of scrutiny. Who would be the correct group of people to approach about this point?
The point is that criticising individuals publicly who have put in a lot of time and effort and done the best that they can is not constructive it is destructive. Constructive feedback is best delivered face to face and on a one to one basis not by moaning on a public forum.
I would encourage discussion on how to improve guidelines and processes to improve the quality of events in the future but I think direct critiscism of individuals for their efforts on a public forum is very poor form.
What sort of a community do we want Attackpoint to be?
@Becks: that one is on the sanctioning committee, who queried this but let it through this time. Not again, I expect.
But please, let's discuss this in another thread, not this one. This thread is a request to keep Attackpoint beautiful.
Yes, I agree. Let's discuss this over a beer another time.
If I've had a bad day out on course and it is not entirely my own fault, I always try to remember that nobody sets out to make a crap map or course. They all try their best within their own skill set and time limitations and most do so on a voluntary basis.
Of course I'm not an elite where national selcetion might be in the balance.
I'm definitely a huge fan of this thread!
Saturday night between Long & Middle during dinner the comment was made (before this all even started) that AttackPoint "feedback" falls into two categories - the "that was a really nice event" type and the "that event totally sucks and the organizers should be ashamed" type. Our group agreed that both types of feedback are pretty much useless.
The issue of giving (and getting) constructive feedback is pretty universal - yes, even beyond orienteering. There are some places where it can have a pretty significant impact on the future - like in hospitals & medical procedures, for example. One of the docs in the crowd suggested we do something similar to what some medical groups do. I'm sure he can explain it better, but the general idea that I understood was:
* all feedback is sent to a neutral external person
* that person collects all the feedback, makes it anonymous, and filters out the 'got a bone to pick' type of stuff
* at this point it seems they have some useful stuff that can be used to improve future performance
Maybe we could learn & copy from these places where things really matter
@AZ I'd like to add that the amusing but obviously serious self criticism on your Barebones web site is really helpful for the sport. I think that style of positive self-examination should also be encouraged and shared.
The above information totally sucks and the writer should be ashamed.
I like AZ's suggestion.
Following this year's Easter event, I've started and aborted several posts/emails which were critical of aspects of the event. I aborted partly because they would do little to improve future events (different people, different states), but mainly because they would just upset some of the few volunteers who keep the sport running.
In recent years we have had a drift (locally) to favour quantity over quality in our local orienteering events. I think this would be one step towards putting us back on track.
And don't lose sight of the value of personal correspondence.
After finishing with one awful leg at an event last year I felt moved to return to the scene of the crime so to say.
I walked and re-walked the map and decided that while some features were quite correct, the ones I was trying to use were off. (And focusing on one or "too few" features is a training issue I'm trying to work on;-)
And so I contacted a couple people in the club (course setter and map maker I recall) with a note - after I had a chance to scan in my map and doodle on it. I explained the error in the map that appeared to cause me trouble and asked if they'd take a look.
Short version - the mapper re-visited that location and sent back a section of the revised map that took much of what I suggested.
I didn't need to cause a public fuss and had verification that what I experienced had a reasonable cause.
When you do something privately, it's easier to get an acknowledgement that perhaps an error had been made. In public - not so much...
I think OP dawgtired is simply requesting good sportsmanship
Sportsmanship is an aspiration that a sport will be enjoyed for its own sake, with consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors. A sore loser refers to one who does not take defeat well, whereas a good sport means being a "good winner" as well as being a "good loser"....
Many orienteers did not participate in a high school sports program, where many folks learn good sportsmanship. So we get to see occasional displays of poor sportsmanship...I've done it myself after a bad run. The Meet crew shouldn't take such outbursts personally.
No, they probably participate in Little League
or something where the lessons of good sportsmanship are imparted at an earlier age.
...a Wakefield Little League mother was ordered to watch a sportsmanship video and write an essay about it after she was found guilty yesterday of assaulting an 11-year-old boy who was cheering the opposing team at her son's game...
Well there you are! School sports teach good sportsmanship to everyone!
tRicky, there's a time and place for that kind of thing. This thread is not one of those...
unfortunately there are already several things in here that feel negative when this was intended to be one of the far too few positive threads here...
I wasn't in Georgia but I saw some photos of some pretty new and exciting things. Thanks for helping push the sport forward!
I totally agree with candyman that ideally we shouldn't use public forums to critique volunteers or maybe even paid professional officials who are probably putting a lot of effort in.
But I think often this type of online negativity stems from frustration. You try to go down the proper channels to effect change but it feels like swimming against the tide. At least when people complain online it shows they still care and have some burning passion for things to be better within the sport. At some point though.. nothing changes and you give up and have a general apathy instead.. isn't that even worse?
Surely a mixture of praise and "discussion" should be the norm but perhaps just with some rules about thinking before you rant. On OPN.no there are a couple of sentences before the comments thread bit about how you should show consideration etc maybe it makes some people think twice before unleashing hell..?
I think tRicky does irony. He is Australian... well West Australian.
I buy crease resistant shirts so I don't have to do the ironying.
Anyway I agree you shouldn't abuse officials, unless they are paid in which case please heap criticism on them for doing the Wrong Thing. I like to not drive volunteers away from sports because it's hard enough to get people to do free stuff without upsetting them with unwarranted abuse.
Free speech: It isn't always pretty.
Free speech: It isn't always pretty.
No, but it can be mind-numbingly stupid if it permanently alienates volunteers who are would otherwise do material work for you for free.
What you get for that "free speech" is a loss of free work that is then directed at more deserving and worthy organizations who don't make blood sport of abusing their volunteers (cause they ain't mind-numbingly stupid), and, actually, shudder at the alien concept, treat their free worker bees with respect.
But, maybe this is a good deal for those mouthing off, who knows? (I'm not an economist (but I do play one in real life), and I would suggest that it is not, but WDIK).
Oh, and, BTW, "free speech" really only applies to government regulation of the press. People love to bring it up in these sorts of threads, but it turns out the concept is totally irrelevant.
No big secret, this thread is really about the recent US Champs.
This thread stinks. Not because badmouthing volunteers or officials is a good thing. Sure it is not. But nothing like that ever happened, either on site or here. We deal with a different phenomenon. I would call it information war. Right after the event was over, a story of “unmatched success” started evolving rapidly. A few people, including myself, felt that was well overboard, and, by carefully selecting words, praising whatever was done well, told their story. That is all. Well, I would personally avoid saying “mapper sucks”, I would rather use “mapper did work of fair quality”. But they tell me here, it’s OK in America, here they don’t like those formal pompous British manners. Still I do not use the words.
Anyway, that was just putting facts straight, and no harassing of poor hard-working volunteers ever took place.
I believe that truth gives you power
This discussion thread is closed.