Really, honestly, how can anyone possibly not believe that this is a worthy philosophy to embrace? The only thing that kills me is the the name: "Spirit of the Game." The word spirit is not synomynous with common words and expressions I associate with sports: Grit - Battle - Fair - Integrity - Determination - Motivation - Guts - Glory - Respect. "Spirit" is a word that I would associate with yoga class, folklore, or a Bible Group. It is not a bad word, just the wrong word for this particular audience.
The definition of SOG plays a relatively large role for me. When I first started playing this game, I thought it was ridiculous. I thought playing games without officials was silly and I thought it took away from the quality of the sport. Now, after years of careful observation and experiences as a player, captain, coach, and administrator, I think it is what could be our ticket to the next level. It could be our ticket to the next level because it could be the ticket to the next level in the youth division. Youth Ultimate is the key to the growth of our sport and if you can get that to grow, Ultimate will grow at all levels.
Spirit of the Game, and what it stands for, what it really, really means, can be a huge selling point when presenting this sport to those you want to buy in. It teaches kids to place respect and fairness first. It teaches them conflict resolution. That is huge. I was blown away by the premise of Ultimate Peace (the foundation that led the charge to teach kids in the Middle East Ultimate frisbee in hopes to teach SotG and conflict resolution). I mean, if we could all be a little bit better at conflict resolution, how much better of a world would we be living in?? If you knew you would not get caught, or not be penalized, would you still steal? Ultimate not only reveals character, but builds it. A sport that builds character. How great is that?
Therfore it means a lot to me. I am the President of the Triangle Youth Ultimate League and the coach of the UNC-Ch Women's Ultimate frisbee team. My character, whether playing for Backhoe or coaching, or playing at winter league, is on display at all times and I want to represent well. I participate in this sport on many levels and I want to do so with a sense of pride. And, if no one is looking, I would still want to act within the definition of SotG, because it is the right thing to do.
But, that does not mean I am not human. I will make mistakes. I will lose my cool. It isn't so much about me having these fallacies but my ability to reflect on them and make myself a better player, a better person by learning from my mistakes.
What does it mean for my team? I would like to think that we play fair and we play within the rules. I would like to think we respect the definition of spirit of the game and conduct ourselves accordingly. We do not condone taunting, we do not condone bad calls. We will tell a player on our team to shut it if necessary. We will tell a player on our team that they were out, or it was down, or it was a foul, or it was not a foul - even it does not have our best interests in mind (best interests = winning). Why? Because we want to win a game outright because we were the better team within the rules of the game. We won (or lost) fair and square. No excuses.
Why would you want to win any other way besides playing completely within the rules of the game? And, win with grace, respect, and honor? So, you win a big game and act like an ass to the other team. Do you really feel good about yourself? Win with grace. Win with honor. Even if the opponent was a jerk to you. The Golden Rule": Treat others as you would like to be treated. How can you possibly argue against that philosophy? The challenge is to do that when the other person is treating you really badly or cheating you.
How do you prepare for an opponent that might not make calls in good faith? Ask for observers. Forewarn them of the behavior. Go get observers. Keep your cool. Never, ever lower yourself to their level. Play with integrity.
A teammate that may do the same: First of all , an apology can go a long way. Even if it is after the game. Even if it is not from that player, but just from you on behalf of your team. Second of all, control your teammates. Stand up for something that is bigger than any individual on your team, including yourself. Do it because it is the right thing to do. Even if no one is watching.