Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's all about the rules

Last night, I was watching Dancing with the Stars.  For those you who don't watch - there's a rule against lifts.   One of the judges is a stickler about this, and she applies the rule, rigidly.  So if Man Dancer picks up Lady Dancer and swings her around, and she is able to streeeeeeettchhhhh.... and keep one teeny tiny tip of toe in contact with the floor -- no lift.  But sometimes, in his exuberance, Man Dancer swings Lady Dancer a bit faster than they practiced, or perhaps she doesn't streeeeeettttcchhhh  quite as much... and that tiny toe tip comes off the floor.... Ooops.. Penalty.

In last night's show, one of the dancers doing such a move wasn't quite able to maintain contact with the floor, and the rules-stickler judge mentioned it.  The head judge responded by saying that the lift was clearly not intentional, so he was not going to deduct points for it.

Now - I have always considered myself a stickler for the rules - but I applauded the head judge for his decision.  (yes, I literally applauded)  Sometimes, you have to look at the intent, as well as the rule.

The timing of this was interesting, because of the controversy this weekend around the Masters Golf Tournament.  For those of you who don't follow golf, there are various types of 'relief'.  One kind of relief says that if certain things happen, you re-play that shot from the same position.  Another kind of relief says that if certain other things happen, you re-play that shot by dropping your ball anywhere that's in the same line to the hole, and no closer to the hole.  So the first thing you need to know is that Tiger Woods should have taken one kind of relief, but he took the other kind.  And although he took the wrong kind, he ended up almost  - but not quite - in the same position as if he'd taken the right kind.  And nobody noticed....  not the officials, not the spectators, not the other golfer playing with Tiger, not Tiger's caddy.

Oh wait.  Almost nobody noticed.

Apparently, someone watching on tv noticed the mistake, and called it in.  But that's not all.... after it was called in, officials reviewed the tape, and decided there was nothing wrong.  But based on comments made by Tiger, after he was done playing, and after he'd turned in his scorecard, the officials changed their mind.

Now the next thing that you need to know is that, in golf, if you turn in an incorrect scorecard, there's a penalty.  In the old days, the penalty was disqualification. (OUCH!!!)  BUT -- a few years ago, the golf people changed the rule so that, if the officials believed you didn't know your scorecard was incorrect when you turned it in, they could decide to instead just 'correct' your score, and add one more penalty point.  Kind of like letting your toe come up off the floor, without you realizing that it had happened.

People are squawking about Tiger Woods not being disqualified, and people are squawking about the dancing judge who decided not to penalize that couple...  but sometimes things aren't a simple black or white.. and sometimes the rules tell you to take intent, into consideration.  And I don't think that's a bad thing.  So I'm going to step back and soften my approach, and be a bit less of a stickler for the rules.

By the way, if you look up stickler, one of the synonyms is pedant.  And if you look up pedant, you'll see that it means 'someone who unduly emphasizes minutiae'.  Ouch, I don't like that at all.  I am definitely going to aim for being less of a stickler.    

As a second 'by the way'... don't even get me started on the notion of allowing tv viewers to call in with information, especially for a game that does not allow instant replays.  In my book, the person who called in to complain about the penalty, is far worse than a stickler...  but I'll leave that topic, for another day, and another cup of tea.

I'll raise my cup of Typhoo tea to Jerry, the manager at the Beacon Resort, even though he prefers Bewley's.


  1. Now hang on a minute. Tiger stated that he deliberately dropped his ball 2 yards away because that was to his advantage - he had forgotten the rule. Last year, Harrington's ball had moved a fraction after he addressed the ball and he had not seen it while someone with HD TV had. Sticking to the rules - he had to be disqualified - hence they introduced the new rule which was them mis-applied to allow Tiger not to be disqualified.

    Now, on our dancing show, some do lifts when they are not supposed to and 1 judge penalises them. But they get a lot of attention, they have entertained and captured public sympathy and vote. Cheating for entertainment is colourful and fun.
    There is no public vote for Tiger but I'm sure sponsors don't want him disqualified. He cheated for glory, so it really should have been black and white.
    I think we could do without a lot of the fussy etiquette at golf clubs but sometimes we really need to have a good stickle.

  2. And another thing … all those pros were taking 3 hours longer than it takes me to hit a load more shots but only a 14 year old was penalised.
    Tiger’s comment on this was ‘rules is rules.’ I say, stickle unto others as you would have others stickle unto you.
    And finally - I’m disappointed that a lawyer-type can’t differentiate between good stickling, bad stickling and fun stickling! What Tiger did simply wasn’t cricket.

    1. 'Stickle unto others as you would have others stickle unto you' --- I like that!