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Reeving - Spirit and Intent
[05/14/2002] [Count D'alle de Salle']

A fundamental difference between Reeves and sporting referees is that Reeves are "observers" to aid in officiating. Amtgard is a very different sport from other sports. The game itself is a self-officiated sport with the responsibility of fair play placed on each individual, and sportsmanship socially enforced. The level and quality of play can help dictate how a game should be called.

A rule is a rule is a rule. One must understand the inseparable links between rules, their spirit and intent, and good old common sense. "It's easy (for a reeve) to read a paragraph and say, 'Well, that's the rule.' But you also have go back and look at why the rule/change was made. In other words, what did this rule really concern/change? What was the intent of the rule?" A reeve must know the reason for the rule in order to really adjudicate it properly.

Reeves are often charged with taking black-and-white rules and applying them to gray situations and with the responsibility to manage the game within the prescribed set of rules. The diversity of human athletic endeavors boggles the mind. There can be no set of written rules which completely governs a sporting contest. Human activity necessitates human judgments as to what is permissible. A definitive Reeve is the one who takes the gray areas of question and paints them decisively black or white, while making the interested parties buy the painting with little dialogue. He sells that painting by his very presence and obvious command of the situation. The definition of the gray area is that space between the literal definition of the rules and an individual reeve's selective enforcement. It is judgment as determined by spirit and intent. It is also one of the concepts that will make a Reeve a success. There are some situations where there is no gray area, such as those dealing with un-sportsmanlike conduct and safety for the battle game participants. These rules are "Letter of the Law" rules.

You, as a Reeve, have to exhibit some savvy about the game. You aren't being effective as a Reeve if you are officious, overbearing, authoritarian, or a tough guy. As a Reeve you are expected to enforce the rules, tempered with reason. You have to have a healthy base before you know how to talk in terms of spirit of the rules. We all know that almost anyone can take a rulebook, study and pass a written test. Yet the thing we have never found in any education catalog is a course on common sense. Good point. The term itself is a misnomer. A Reeve can get so immersed in the rules that they lose sight of what's going on in a situation or battlegame.

Points of Good Reeving

Communicate and Listen. Good communication skills are just as important as knowing the rules of the game. Facial expressions, body language and voice control are only a few methods of communication. Simply listening is often your best form of communication. Remaining pleasant and professional while answering simple questions can earn you mutual respect and control. How you relate with others - players, fans, Champions, even your fellow reeves - is critical.

Quality of play. The way you officiate a game should be appropriate for the skill level of the players. A well-played, clean contest which has a discernibly smooth flow requires fewer interruptions than a poorly played, rough game which lacks any flow. Frustrations mount and tempers tend to rise as the quality of play worsens, maintaining or, regaining control of that game becomes increasingly difficult. To avoid losing control of the game, intensity your concentration and, if necessary, adjust the way you're calling the game.

Type of rule involved. Only by knowing a rule's spirit and intent can you implement it properly. However, rules involving player safety and unsportsmanlike conduct (including any act that engenders ill will) should be strictly enforced. Also, any infraction, which is blatantly obvious to a casual observer cannot be ignored.

Competitiveness of contest. Typically, players behave better in a close game than in a blowout. Why? Because in a close contest they cannot afford to do something negative that could have a significant impact on the game's outcome. If they feel the game has already been lost, they may also feel they have little if anything to lose by taking cheap shots (verbal and physical). Some of the games that are the toughest to control are blowouts, so don't let them get away from you. Call what needs to be called; don't be disconcerted by the length of the game.

Consistency is a must. The players generally will be able to adjust to the way you are working the game. Once you have established the parameters within which you will call a game, don't make any alterations unless conditions change or there are other compelling extenuating circumstances.

On marginal infractions, issue warning. Except for safety and sportsmanship rules (see No. 3), if a player commits what you perceive to be a marginal infraction, it is inappropriate to remain silent. Instead, issue a formal or an informal warning (no threats). Most players appreciate that approach and will not abuse it. Give them the benefit of doubt until they have proven they no longer deserve it.

Don't look for calls to make. During some games, you may go long periods of time without having to make any calls. As time goes on, however, an official tends to feel pressure to "call something," perhaps to validate his presence. Resist the temptation to do it. If there's nothing to call, call nothing. In the average contest, there will be plenty of calls to make, so don't force the issue by fabricating calls where none exist.

Be the Reeve. Don't let the players decide the outcome of a call, unless their actions are within the spirit and intent of the rules. You are the Reeve on the field, even if the call you are making involves the Guild Master of Reeves. Respect and listen to all parties involved, but remember you are the one wearing the Gold Sash.

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