Three Cheers for MUFA’s Swiss System

19kg

I’ve captained a team, DiscGrace, in the MUFA summer league, since 2001.

The summer league is an ultimate frisbee league where you sign up as a team based on your team strength, ranging from competitive down to recreational (with many divisions thereof).

One of the historical problems with the league has been the fact that even within a given division, skill levels can vary a lot, since the team strength is all based on self-rating. This often results in blowouts… and blowouts are something you rarely have fun playing in, no matter which side of it you’re on.

As of the 2012 season, MUFA combined the B and C rec leagues and implemented a swiss system*. In 2012, there were 54 teams the swiss division, and this year, there were 72. The idea of a swiss system is that you pair up teams with similar records, so as the schedule progresses, teams are paired against others of a similar strength.

In 2012, the season was severely truncated by a drought; the city closed fields for a large part of the season to prevent damage to the turf. Because of that, it was hard to get a good idea of how well the swiss system worked.

This year, however, just finished up, and my team played 17 regular season games, plus a couple in the post-season. The season started with a number of blowouts each way in our games. By mid-season, however, the swiss really game into its own. Nearly all of our games after midway could easily have gone either way, with many coming down to the final minutes.

Likewise, when we went into the playoffs, the swiss was divided into sections based on our regular season results. DiscGrace was seeded last (16th) in Swiss Chocolate, the 4th group, and we played against the top seed. We were expected to lose, and we did, but it was still a damn close game (9-10 as I recall).UncleDiscGrace

This is why I play… to have fun, competitive game, not to win. I think that’s true of the vast majority of those of us in the swiss system, and I wanted to publicly say how great I thought it was and say thank you to MUFA for implementing it.

So, three cheers for MUFA, and the swiss! Thank you!

You all do a great job, supporting what is now a vast number of people in the league. It’s an all-volunteer organization and probably mostly thankless (I’m sure they hear many more complaints than thanks).

I suspect (but don’t know as I’ve not spoken to him about it in years) that Matt Merrill**, the current MUFA vice president, is the brainchild and architect of the MUFA swiss implementation. Kudos to you, especially, Matt!

* – I actually argued for implementing a swiss years ago, but this was long before smartphones and ubiquitous internet… and the swiss depends upon quick reporting of game results, so it wasn’t as practical then.

** – Fun fact… I knew Matt waaay back in the late 80’s when we were both avid tournament chess players. I am/was a relative patzer, though, while Matt actually achieved expert rating. The reason I was even familiar with the swiss system was because this is how nearly all chess tournaments work. If you have a weekend to play, typically 5 games, it’s the best way to come up with a clear winner with a field of 100 or so players.

As part of the swiss, MUFA also implemented a “performance rating”, which from appearances appears to be an implementation of the Elo system, the method used by the USCF (in the US) and FIDE (internationally) to rate chess players. Last fun fact… Arpad Elo invented this system. He was born in Austria, but moved to Wisconsin when he was 10, and won the Wisconsin state championship eight times.

Call me Ishmael

I learned to snowboard about 10 years ago. Brett was the best man at my wedding, and also my snowboarding mentor.

This picture was from 2002, not long after he got me onto a snowboard.

A couple of years into it, I moved to hardbooting and started racing.

I’ve gradually gotten better at it, and now am one of the fastest snowboard racers at the local hill. However, Brett has always beat me.

Now, I don’t mean “usually” or “almost always”. I mean ALWAYS. A year or two ago I finally looked it up and put together a spreadsheet to track the races.

Between 2005 and yesterday, January 24th, 2011, Brett and I had raced head to head in a NASTAR course 48 times. I’ve had good days and bad days, but my good days were never enough to beat him.

FORTY-EIGHT races. That’s some pretty amazing consistency, especially since my only real goal for the past few years has been to beat him. He is truly my white whale.

Finally, last night, his run came to an end. In our Monday night race (in Tyrol Basin‘s Double Diamond Race League), I laid down an excellent first run, and he didn’t. I was ahead.

Now, I’d been in this position dozens of times before, but every other time when I’ve been in the lead out of one run (out of the two we get), he’s always shit out a great run to take me down.

But last night, for the first time, he did not.

The record is now 1-48.

Six years of head to head racing

Julius Peppers is an asshole

So the Pack won yesterday (hell yes!). Hopefully Aaron Rodgers is all right, but he took a hit from Julius Peppers that was totally uncalled for, and seemed to put him off his game.

Untouched and in Rodgers’ blind spot, he hit him hard, helmet to helmet. Knocked his helmet half off and he was spitting blood. It could have ended his season. Hell, could have ended his career. Dirty, ugly shit.

Fine, maybe he didn’t mean to hit with his helmet, but what burns my toast is that he, and the Bears coach on the sideline, were complaining about the completely appropriate 15-yard penalty! Completely classless. He should have been ejected.

Here’s him complaining:

Here’s video of the hit; though I’m sure Youtube will pull this for copyright violation before long:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guG2vd-uAfY[/youtube]

Interestingly, here’s another dirty hit from Peppers on Rodgers, out of bounds, from when he played for the Panthers; this must have been when they met in 2008. Just shows what a classless asshole Julius Peppers really is. This wasn’t just one dirty play, but it’s apparently just the way he plays:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YYy8O7lBK8[/youtube]

I hope the NFL doles out a serious fine for this. Not that it will do any good, since if he was arguing against the penalty, he obviously doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong.

Edit: He was fined $10k. I don’t think that’s the minimum, but it’s also tiny compared to his salary.

Packers Bears

As of today, January 18, 2011, there have been 181 games played between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. It’s by far the longest running rivalry in the NFL (and maybe all of American sports?).

Frankly, for most of 90’s and 00’s, I never considered the Bears much rivals to my Packers, since we beat them so often. However, since 2005, the Bears have been winning with frightening regularity.

This Sunday is, to say the very least, a big game. The Packers are fielding the best team I have seen since at least 1997. The Bears, disrespected by all (including me) in the beginning of the season, managed to sail to an 11-5 record and win the NFC North. They might be the real deal.

After a close win by the Bears early in the season, they met again for the final game. The Packers needed a win to secure a playoff spot, and they got one.

The Packers managed to defeat the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs, and then the number one seeded Atlanta Falcons. Suddenly people outside of Cheesehead-dom have been noticing that the Packers may also, indeed, be the real deal.

Aaron Rodgers is a huge part of that. So is a Dom Capers defense that fell apart at the end of last season, but has been superlative this year. So has been the much-needed depth provided by Ted Thompson’s excellent work on personnel.

There are many things to say about Rodgers. Suffice it to say that he’s awesome, and that he wasn’t picked to go to the Pro Bowl is a travesty. Let’s take a look who was.

Michael Vick was picked to start for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Since the Packers took out his team the first round of the playoffs, he’ll be able to make the trip to Hawaii. Drew Brees was picked as an alternate. He’ll be able to make the trip, too, since his team also went down in the wild card round.

And the other alternate? Matt Ryan, whose team was just destroyed by Aaron Rogers’ offense.

I think any one of those three quarterbacks would say they’d rather be playing this Sunday than headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. I’m happy Aaron Rodgers has his chance.

Brett Favre, the once bright star, has officially retired this week. It’s been a rough year for him. He’s not getting away with things that he certainly got away with before.  I don’t feel the schadenfreude that I expected to when I last posted about him.

Just as he didn’t understand the realities of the NFL when he re-un-re-un-retired from the Packers, I don’t think he understands the implications of today’s internet when sending around pictures of his wee-wee.

The last time, the only time, the Packers and Bears have ever met in the playoffs was in 1941, a week after Pearl Harbor. More than 43,000 packed Wrigley Field to see the rivals clash. The next week when the Giants played the Bears for the actual NFL Championship, only 13,000 came.

The same is true today. The fans of the winning team this Sunday will consider the Super Bowl a letdown (Jets? Steelers? They seem so insignificant and far off).

The fans of the losing team will consider the season over after their team loses. Either way, for both Cheeseheads and FIBs, this Sunday is the REAL Super Bowl.

The below was an article I found and put online in 1996 as Art Modell was taking his Browns out of Cleveland and into Baltimore. I noted it as being written by Bill McEwen for the Fresno Bee, but I have found no other copy than my own I put online way back then.

I don’t believe in fairy tales, aliens from outer space or the psychic hot line.

But I believe in the Green Bay Packers, whose story begins once upon a time.
By the way we keep score in professional sports, the Packers have no business in today’s NFC championship game. They’re the ultimate small market, the corner grocery store butting heads against Safeway and Vons.

They play in a Wisconsin city of 98,000 residents and in a stadium that is one of the smallest in the NFL. The winters are long, the summers short. Green Bay’s sister city is in Siberia. The No. 1 export is earmuffs.

Yet the Packers thrive, even as Art Modell and Bud Adams flee from Cleveland and Houston mega-markets with football teams that couldn’t break .500. Even as Bud Selig, owner of the down-the-road-a-piece Milwaukee Brewers and grand pooh-bah of big-league baseball, rants and raves that he can’t compete without a state-of-the-art stadium.

How it must gall Selig that while his team was losing favorite son Paul Molitor to free agency, the Packers were luring Reggie White, one of the best defensive ends ever, to Green Bay with a once-in-a-lifetime contract and sweet talk about the quality of life and cheese in their humble hamlet.

The Packers are all about grit and substance and adhering to tradition, and that’s satisfying. Sound management, it turns out, is more vital to success than a deck of luxury suites. Players can find happiness somewhere besides the Sun Belt. Ticket-buying fans are more important to the bottom line than television sets.

As team president Robert Harlan likes to say, the Packers are a warm story in a very cold place.

The Dallas Cowboys, with high-kicking cheerleaders and stars on their jerseys, have anointed themselves America’s Team. So have the Atlanta Braves, a marvelous baseball team that doubles as programming for their owner’s cable station.

The Packers, in their unfashionable green-and-yellow uniforms, are the true representatives of the red-white-and-blue. They’re older than dirt, two years older than the NFL itself.

Four times during their first 32 years, the Packers nearly were scorched from their frozen tundra. Each time, the community came to the rescue with cash.

These people love their football. It was $2,500 in 1922, the Packers’ second season in the NFL, and $15,000 in 1934, the year a fan fell out of the stands and sued the team. In 1949, the Packers played an intrasquad game on Thanksgiving Day that raised $50,000.

The financially ailing club went public a year later. Shares were sold for $25 each and $118,000 poured into the coffers. Today, the Packers have 1,898 shareholders, a 45-person board of directors and a seven-member executive committee.

Though the Packers expect to make $4 million this season, there will be no dividend. All the profits are plowed back into the team. The franchise has an estimated worth of $160 million. A share, when you can find one, still sells for $25.

The Packers are America’s Team for all the above reasons and more:

They play in a stadium named after a legend (Curly Lambeau), not an airline or a bank.

They practice in a facility named after legend (Don Hutson), not a sneaker company.

They play outdoors, not in a dome.

They play on real grass, not artificial turf.

They’ve got a quarterback (Brett Favre) from a town (Kiln, Miss.) that is 82 times smaller than Green Bay.

They’ve won more NFL titles (11) than any other franchise.

They’ve had 19 Hall of Famers, among them, Vince Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Willie Davis, Willie Wood, Johnny (Blood) McNally, Lambeau and Hutson.

They’ve got the Cheeseheads, the best advertisement for the dairy industry since the fondue pot.

After the Packers exposed the mold on the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren used two words not usually associated with pro sports — “fun” and “unselfish” — to describe his season and his team.

Tight end Mark Chmura said the Packers’ unity might stem from playing in the place that became known as “Title Town” during Lombardi’s unprecedented run of success in the 1960s. “I don’t know if it’s that we really want to win or because this town keeps us all close, but there really isn’t any jealousy here,” Chmura said.

The Packers might not be strong enough to overcome the Cowboys, who have that massive offensive line, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and the world’s leading practitioner of self promotion, Deion Sanders. But they’ve already proven themselves to be extraordinary in many ways.

This season, after Modell revealed he was turning his back on the city that had faithfully supported the Browns for 50 years, Cleveland mayor Michael White said, “If this can happen here, there is no safe franchise in America.”

There is an exception. Green Bay is safe. The Packers will be there tomorrow, the day after that and when our children’s children are having children. We all can take comfort in that.

That’s awesome. I’m happy to be a part of it; I bought a share when they went on sale in 1997 to refurbish Lambeau Field.

Go Pack!!!

Great Season, Shitty Refs

This picture pretty much sums it up.

True, there is no way we could give up so many points and expect to win.

However, the Packers game back from a huge deficit to get back in the game and tie it up. A little luck from a missed FG by the Cards and it was suddenly our game to lose.

But with a bunch of bad calls (or no calls) in a row, including this blatant face mask to Rodgers as he fumbled the ball (and lost the game), the zebras screwed us.

A terrible end to what became a great season.

Brett Favre

I’m a Green Bay Packer fan (this from a decade ago)

I’m also a Brett Favre fan.

I recently got into a highly opinionated discussion about how I feel about Favre’s shenaningans in the past few weeks. After being chastized for my seeming lack of loyalty to a man who has led my team (yes, I own a piece) for the past 15+ years, here is how I laid it out:

What Favre is guilty of has nothing to do with money.

What Favre is guilty of is narcissism and a lack of understanding of the realities of the NFL.

He has has the luxury of being a good enough player that he hasn’t had to confront the ugly reality of the do-or-die-or-you’re-done mentality that 99.9% of the rank and file of the NFL understand. You either step up and contribute or you don’t, and you’re done.

He doesn’t understand the ramifications of his past decisions. He doesn’t understand that at some point, when you say you’re done, we have to believe you.

Brett Favre isn’t the Green Bay Packers.

He is the anchor of a beautiful era of the team; a beautiful era of the NFL. It will NEVER EVER be repeated. Mark my words…. in our lifetimes, no one will touch the most-starts record. Others will fall, but the iron man that he is/was will never be repeated.

However, he is not the Green Bay Packers. Others are now, and want to continue to show respect and fight for a legacy, to win in the name of a silly green and gold G, but to do so nonetheless.

He is not respecting that, and in so doing is tarnishing what could have been an epic legacy.

That man could literally have walked into downtown Green Bay (or Madison or Milwaukee or a hundred other cities in Wisconsin) and charged $100 for people to hold out their hands and accept his shit. Seriously, no doubt this is true.

Instead, he chose to badmouth the team he was so intertwined with in public.

I love the guy and he will always be a part of a beautiful legacy.

But this was not done in a good way.

At this point, let him play for whoever. Fucking Vikings, whatever. It’s his history he’s choosing.

On the flip side, I can imagine what it must be like to be completely, totally devoted to the idea of playing football and suddenly coming face to face with being a spectator, and watching John Madden ramble on about sweat stains while he sits and watches instead of playing. The man was born and bred to play the game; let him play until his bones are dust.

I’ll fucking root for him, even if he’s a Viking, a Bear, or a Lion. Maybe a Cowboy. But as soon as he is playing against the Green Bay Packers, I’ll be rooting for them to sack his old man ass.

Edit: Jets it is!

Highlights of 2007, his last as a Packer.

Tyrol Basin Belt Sander Races

For as long as I’ve been snowboarding there, Tyrol Basin has an annual belt sander race in the bar (the bar itself being among the best at any ski hill anywhere) near the end of the season. This year’s was yesterday, March 9, 2008.

Josh, the bartender, is always one of the favorites to win, but I understand he was unseated last year by one of the regulars, "Big". Alas (for Big), his entrant, the only one to ever do a sub 2 second run, didn’t hold up this year, and Josh regained his crown.

The final was between Josh’s two tread sander and one from his brother… I think. I didn’t get all the details, and was involved in too much drinking for a Sunday afternoon for all of the details to be clear.

I did shoot a little video.

[youtube]18O7h0Jcc5w[/youtube]

Screw you, Westwood One

NFL blocks Packers Radio Network from Madison area

Jason McMahon  —  1/18/2008 7:40 am

If the Green Bay Packers deliver "the dagger" against the New York Giants on Sunday to seal a Super Bowl berth, Madison-area fans of the Green and Gold may not be able to hear it on the radio.

Don’t worry, Packer backers — the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field will be broadcast on both your AM and FM dials. But it won’t be familiar voices coming out of the speakers.

Play-by-play announcer Wayne Larrivee — fond of identifying a game-clinching play as "the dagger" — and analyst Larry McCarren will be on the mic, but their call will be blocked from reaching local radio listeners due to the NFL’s exclusive contract with nationwide network Westwood One.

[…]

WIBA didn’t have a choice in the matter. Unless a station is in its team’s home market, Westwood One’s contract requires its affiliates to give priority to the national outlet for the conference title games and the Super Bowl.

And Madison is not considered a home market for the Packers, a point already driven home to local Green Bay diehards who were denied a chance to see their team on broadcast television when the Packers’ Nov. 29 game was aired on the NFL Network.

[…]

The broadcast team assigned by Westwood One adds a bit of insult to injury to local listeners who are accustomed to their pro-Packers radio announcers. Fassel is a former Giants head coach, who led the team to its last Super Bowl berth seven years ago. He is in his first season in the radio booth.

Man, that is really, really, low.

The headline seems to blame the NFL for this, because Madison is not in the home market for the Packers.

However, in the article, it really seems to be an issue with Westwood One, who appears to own the radio stations in town where the Packers Radio Network is normally broadcast.