- Freddy Ramirez
Outdoor Racquetball: Code Of Conduct
The release of the Code Of Conduct just happens to come a month before Beach Bash in Hollywood Beach, California. Last, year, there was an unfortunate incident where tempers flared and got carried away. Beach Bash is an event that has maybe the deepest mix of player types in the country, One Wall players, 3 Wall players, indoor players, and crossover sport players, all from all over the country. Some One Wall rules run counter in nature to some indoor and 3 Wall rules and can make getting everyone playing with a full understanding of what is expected of them difficult to do initially. So, having these rules is timely. Vic Leibofsky, Event Director for Beach Bash and Vegas' 3 Wall Ball, said, "This is a great forward for WOR and I look forward to enforcing the code."
These codes though practical in nature, are meant to address something a bit more underlying, player entitlement. I've been traveling and playing in outdoor tournaments since 2004 and culturally, it's no different than indoor racquetball. I've witnessed players form every part of the country act inappropriately on the court. Not the majority, just the few players that tend to think that they deserve some type of respect other than what is normal. Or they are sure they know the rules and that some calls just can't possibly be right. I've seen players act like babies, run off the court, quit games, scream and yell and even threaten refs. In the big 3 states of outdoor (California, Florida, New York), some players are just known for being babies and arguing all the time. Those players should know, that perception stays stays with them, especially with visiting players, who would only see them play once or twice a year.
Now, I get addressing a discrepency in a call. But there are proper ways to do so. I think WOR should go one step further and formalize the "Player Appeal" process in the rulebook. A standard one that runs for every WOR santioned event. For that you would need a minimum amount of line judges. After that, players would not be allowed to address any calls improperly without penalty. And these should be strictly enforced.
There are players who feel that addressing having qualified referees is the answer. To a manageable degree, that is true. Manageable, in that, event directors should do their best to facilitate accordingly with what is available at that particular event. Beyond that, players should get over themselves. Right now, Outdoor racquetball is a recreational sport. Get that right. There may be professional divisions that require a higher degree of understanding by referees, but solving the referee problem right now, isn't and shouldn't be the main priority. The priority should be getting players to understand what is expected of them and holding them to it, regardless of what they think they know or deserve on the court. When there are significant outside resources funding bigger and better events, then the referee situation can be addressed accordingly.
No one is making a living doing this. Outdoor racquetball is not about money. Its about competing in environments of competion and comaradarie. And for those that want to be professional players, my advice to you is to act like one first or just don't show up.