Spirited Thoughts Part 2: Leave The Lie Detector At Home

This is probably the biggest thing I have changed in my own approach to calls, and it’s shockingly simple.


Nobody is lying to you. And nobody is cheating.


The fundamental assumption that people do not make calls they know to be untrue is integral to spirit of the game. The rules are written not to punish those who break the rules, but to make sure that whatever should have happened, does happen. Equally, they make the implicit assumption that people will not purposefully call things which are false.

Let me just say it again. People do not call rubbish.

Sometimes this assumption is hard to stick with when, from your perspective, someone has called rubbish – something that is physically impossible given where the disc went/when you collided/whatever. But it’s true. People make calls because they believe that is what occurred on pitch.

Well, maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. That’s not my point. My point is that as players, we need to believe this is true for spirit of the game to ‘work’.

When you discuss a call, if you think someone is purposefully lying to you, what are you hoping to achieve? They’ve already made the deliberate decision to lie to your face, and make a false call, so why exactly are they going to take it back? Discussing a call with this thought in your head is not going to make you behave like a nice and/or spirited person – and it’s not going to get them to ‘give it up’ either.

If I’m discussing a call, it’s because I know what I think happened, and I want to know what the other team’s players think happened. I’m rarely trying to ‘convince’ the other person to back down, to uncontest or retract the call – I’m trying to match up my reality with theirs.

Discussing calls becomes ridiculous if you believe that people are likely to lie to you. So don’t. Trust your opposition. Believe that people are telling the truth as they see it. Yes, sometimes, our brains will get the better of us, and we will not have seen stuff right, in which case we should be able to listen to a calm explanation of the facts and realise we saw stuff wrong. With the ‘no-one is lying’ attitude, you’ll be better at explaining those facts to other players, without coming across as aggressive and confrontational. Equally, you’ll rarely walk away from a call feeling cheated or hard done by, which is pretty damn awesome.

So yeah. No-one’s lying to you. Except maybe in that call afterwards where you have to line them up in order of age…


  • Therapist

    Good points, well made, as ever.

    I think, on this sense, it is easy to assume some people are lying because they play for a certain team. I know that I have played games where I am more inclined to think that somebody has called rubbish because they are playing for a certain team. It’s bad of me and I should go into playing all teams with then same attitude.

    Currently, however, when I play against teams I like (or, more likely, have respect for) I accept that when they call stuff they are doing so honestly, but when I play against teams that I have had bad games against in the past I perhaps don’t always have the correct mindset.

  • Meg

    Funny you should mention that, Therapist 🙂

    My next planned post was going to be about exactly those ‘grudge match’ games – ones where you’ve played the team before, and it hasn’t been pretty – and how to avoid coming away from the rematch (whether you win or lose) feeling like you played the least spirited team in the history of ever.

    Might be a bit delayed, looking at my teaching load for next week though…

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