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Thread: Referree ethics and the small world of fencing

  1. #1
    Mo
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    Referree ethics and the small world of fencing

    There is a discussion at the place where cowards post, fencingsucks, about integrity and refereeing. Due to the size of the fencing world especially in weapons with smaller numbers like saber, all the fencers in an area know each other, referee or not.

    If you fence occasionally with someone at a club who is a referee, should that referee not direct your bout?

    What if it was several years ago? Should that referee no longer be able to ref a bout?

    What if a fencer is visiting a club and someone from that club gives you a lesson, can they no longer be your ref?

    What if they are from a club that hates your club? Should they be your ref?

    What if the ref was a coach at a club you fenced, but did not belong to and they gave you a bit of advice? Ineligible?

    What if you are a referee and another referee who is more experienced gives you hints about hand signals? Can that ref in the future direct your bout?

    How long should a ref have to be away from a club to ref someone from that club?

    What if a referee just admires a fencer, they know how hard they work and how far the fencer has progressed, does that make it unethical?

    How about if the ref is someone who knows your family? (Not come over for dinner know them just say hi how are you know them) Should they refuse to ref bouts?

    What about refs with preconceived notions? Perhaps knowing that a particular fencer has a bad temper and tries distracting behaviors, should the ref remove him or herself?
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    in many cases the referees are reverse biased, i feel.
    if you're being ref'd by someone you know by one way or another, they tend to be a bit harsher to the person they know in an effort to try and be obvious that they're not preferring the person they know. now this, of course, doesn't prevent incorrect calls that may or may not appear to favor the person they know.

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    Senior Member achilleus's Avatar
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    The rules are quite clear on what constitutes a conflict, that is belonging to the same club.

    Other than that, it's all within the rules..

    When I brought up this same point to the FOC (strictly about national events) the response I got made perfect sense.

    Fencing is such a small community, that everyone has trained somewhere, or is friends with such and such, that it would be impossible to cover every possible limitation.

    As it is, the FOC know most of the rumors, vendettas and dislikes, and try to avoid assigning refs that will aggravate the situation. On the other hand certain fencers and coaches can influence the FOC to get friendly refs, or refs with similar interpretations of RoW. (As an example, unless I am specifically requested, I do not get assigned to officiate when certain clubs are involved. Oddly enough, I've been requested more often as of late...

    Fencing will always have trouble with refs knowing the competitors until we are big enough and wealthy enough to develop an independent ref training program similar to pro sports.

    I've always taught my students that they need to overcome the bias they will sometimes receive, and actually make the analogy to 'home court advantage'.
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    Senior Member Peach's Avatar
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    As achilleus says, there are rules but it's impossible to avoid conflicts of interest in the fencing world.

    I have been in any number of tournaments in which there were complex webs of allegiance. One of my bouts in the IA one year had four people who were rated referees involved in it--only one was refereeing, two were strip-coaching the fencers, and one of them was fencing. The coach of one didn't like the way the action was being called and there were repercussions that lasted for quite a while.

    When my daughter was applying to colleges and looking at fencing programs, it was hilarious that she could talk to someone in one capacity (referee, club coach, fencer, armorer, old buddy) and not be able to talk to him in another. NCAA rules were not exactly designed with fencing in mind.

    Most American referees at the national level are scrupulous about avoiding favoritism, however, although (especially in sabre) your interpretation of the action can be strongly influenced by the way it's called at your club. It could be argued that fencers from that club (but also fencers who know how it's called at that club) can have an advantage that way. Not necessarily, though.
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    Senior Member Repechage's Avatar
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    What on earth is an adult doing over at fencingsucks? It's not exactly "a place where cowards post"--it's the equivalent of a catty conversation among teenagers at the mall. Don't listen in on the kids if you're not in a position to send them to their rooms.

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    Senior Member MikeHarm's Avatar
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    Hmm.. epee is looking better and better.


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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHarm
    Hmm.. epee is looking better and better.

    comon, you know you want to
    Epee Fencers do it to the hilt!

  8. #8
    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peach
    Most American referees at the national level are scrupulous about avoiding favoritism,
    Yes, I agree--even to the point, as noodle suggested, of overcompensation. Rather the way a schoolteacher is usually tougher on his or her own children about classwork and homework than on the other kids.

    From a fencer's standpoint only, I have found most refs to be honorable, whatever their various connections. Wrong, very often, infuriating sometimes, blind at times, but generally trying their best to be objective and accurate. I think we have to start from the presumption that a ref is going to be fair, and only revise that presumption when they prove otherwise. So I would not hesitate to be directed by a ref with any of the relationships Mo specified above on the basis of honesty alone.

    However...



    although (especially in sabre) your interpretation of the action can be strongly influenced by the way it's called at your club. It could be argued that fencers from that club (but also fencers who know how it's called at that club) can have an advantage that way.
    This is another matter, and quite right, a ref who is intimately familiar with fencer A and his style is in great peril of displaying unconscious bias when he's reffing fencer A against an unknown fencer B, especially if B has a very different style. Alas, this is all but unavoidable where ref assignment is concerned, because it's unmeasurable.

    For instance, I have run aground of refs who do not allow the generally quite generous time for a riposte which is the consensus amongst sabre refs and fencers...or those who award the attack to simple forward motion without the arm extending. This is of course a matter of adjusting your fencing to the ref, but if your opponent starts out knowing the ref's idiosyncrasies and you don't, well...

    But I still don't see how it would be possible to parse this for the purposes of assigning or excusing referees. It's require an enormous database and some complex rulings, probably for a very slight return.

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHarm
    Hmm.. epee is looking better and better.

    If so, you are too drunk.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BrianH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHarm
    Hmm.. epee is looking better and better.

    It's always looked good to me. The truth, if you will.

    BrianH

  11. #11
    Senior Member CarlKnoch's Avatar
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    I would think that all referees take the referee's code of ethics seriously, and this thought is covered in that code.

    http://www.fencingofficials.org/Info...f%20Ethics.doc

    I would think that most fencers don't believe that refs take it as seriously as the code reads, but I assure you that every referee that I was in contact with at Nationals took this very seriously.
    Drinks all around!

  12. #12
    Senior Member The0ne's Avatar
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    I reffed a top 8 bout with a guy I know decently well in it. He's not from my club, but in any situation, as a ref, I try and distance myself from the people. Think like they are machines making actions, all that matters is the actions. That's what I do, and I think most good referee's work that way too.
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