The Rule Report - Spirit Timeouts

June 2, 2020 at 5:07pm

MODS will be releasing a series of news stories over the next few months to help explain the changes to the rules of Ultimate which have been adopted by the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) and Ultimate Canada (UC). The monthly stories are here to help understand the new rules and will be vetted by Operations Director Corey Draper and Manitoba's top Observer, Josh Drury.

Rule Update #8 – Spirit Timeout

As promised to ensure enough attention to this part, we peeled it out to be its own update. The 2020-21 rules now include a provision under Timeouts for a “Spirit Timeout”. This rule has been in place with WFDF (World Flying Disc Federation) for a while now and has been thoroughly tested at WFDF events. Previously the rules did not have an intrinsic way to address this. In Winnipeg and with MODS we introduced a Rule Amendment a very long time ago for a “Spirit Foul”. This rule was hard to adapt and rarely had the desired impact on the game. This amendment will be removed going forward and instead be replaced by use of the Spirit Timeout.

Spirit Timeouts pause the game to allow the teams to discuss the issues that are causing conflict, such as dangerous or aggressive play or other unspirited behaviour.  This allows both teams to be heard and to listen to each other’s’ concerns, providing the opportunity to correct any problematic behaviours and allow the rest of the game to be played in a manner that is safe and enjoyable for all players. 

In general, a spirit timeout will have both teams gathering in a circle with teams alternating around the circle.  One representative per team, generally the spirit captain if a team has one, will lead the discussion and discuss solutions.  Alternatively, spirit captains can talk one on one and teams can circle individually to discuss issues following that.  Teams should aim to resolve discussions within 5 minutes. 

Below is the full text of the rules for spirit timeouts:

E. Spirit timeout: A spirit timeout may be called by one or both teams’ spirit captain(s) if they believe that either or both teams have failed to follow the Spirit of the Game, and (1) game play has become dangerous; or (2) repeated Spirit of the Game violations are causing conflict between the teams. Spirit timeouts are subject to the following provisions:

    1. A spirit timeout can be called only if all of the following conditions have been met:                                                                                       
      1. Both spirit captains have discussed the perceived Spirit of the Game violation(s) and adjustments to address those violations, and one or more members of either or both teams have not adjusted their conduct. 
      2. Both spirit captains have discussed the need to call a spirit timeout before calling the spirit timeout. It is not required that both spirit captains agree that a spirit timeout is necessary.                               
      3. Play is stopped.                                                                           
      4. In games with observers, spirit timeouts initiated by the spirit captains must be communicated to the observers before being called. Observers may call a spirit timeout if the observer believes it is needed and at least one of the spirit captains agrees.
    2. During the spirit timeout:                                                                 
      1. Both teams will aim to complete all discussions within 5 minutes, with a goal of resuming play as quickly as possible. If teams require more time to resolve spirit discussions, the timeout can be extended with the consent of both spirit captains.                                                           
      2. Team members may not engage in tactical discussions. Team member may not extend the spirit timeout to try to gain a tactical advantage.   
      3. Spirit timeouts may follow one of two formats, as determined by the spirit captains. Where the spirit captains disagree as to the format of the spirit timeout, the default format is for teams to form one spirit circle.
        1. All team members of both teams will form one spirit circle, alternating players from each team, if possible. The spirit captains will lead a conversation addressing and proposing solutions to resolve spirit issues; or
        2. Two circles will be formed, one for each team to internally resolve spirit issues that have already been discussed between the spirit captains of the opposing team.
        3. After the spirit timeout:                                                   
          1. The game resumes in the same manner as it does after a team timeout.                                                                 
          2. Spirit timeouts do not affect timeouts available.             
          3. For spirit timeouts lasting five minutes or less, the time taken for a spirit timeout will automatically be added to the length of the game time to determine time caps for the game. After the initial five minutes, although spirit captains may always agree to extend a spirit timeout, event organizers may limit the time that can be added to the length of games. The spirit captain(s) initiating the spirit timeout will convey the start and end of the stoppage to event support staff or the event organizer for time-keeping purposes.
          4. Injury, technical, and spirit timeouts are meant to be used exclusively to address the issue for which the timeout was called. Only personnel needed to address the issue should be on the field and only for that purpose. Teams may not use these timeouts as team timeouts, unless they also call a team timeout.