Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Admitting to Fouls or Not?

What do you do when you foul and no one's looking?

If you're down 0-6 in a match and you're about to get beat out of a tournament, do you call a foul on yourself or just let it go?  What about if you're in a team event and it's hill-hill, but no one sees you foul?

I was told in the mid-90s by a great player that it's your opponents job to pay attention to the match.  Therefore she was of the opinion it's not your obligation to tell your opponent if you fouled.  Of course, this person was around gambling her entire life, so maybe her perspective is different?  However, the other side of the coin is, you want to do what's right and you would want to be able to sleep at night knowing that you didn't cheat your opponent.  But is that cheating if your opponent wasn't paying attention and didn't see it?  Or is it cheating if you just didn't say anything?

I remember one time I was playing scotch doubles in Vegas with a really good partner and I thought I fouled when I shot my shot.  So as he came to the table to shoot, I whispered under my breath to him, "hey, I think I fouled."  He just kept walking by me to shoot his turn.  I asked him later if he heard me and he said, "yes I did, but I acted like I didn't hear you or that you didn't foul."  It was very weird for me because I respect this guys game very much and he's a very good player, but I had no idea that he would do something like that.   

I've heard of several stories where Pros have called fouls on themselves in key moments of big tournaments and the crowd shows them accolades and people talk about it for weeks and weeks after about their ethics.  Of course, you also hear when people foul, but don't fess up.  People talk about both extremes.

Before Facebook, players used AZBilliards forums to discuss such instances.  I recall one very vividly where a teammate fouled and didn't honor up, and he was blasted on the forums and his fellow teammate said he'd never play with that guy again.  We all knew who it was and every year we would see the "perpetrator" at Texas BCAPL State and whisper and point our fingers at him.

But that's only because it was brought up to the forefront.

Some players remain staunch on the ruling, "well you didn't have a ref present, so it goes to the shooter" (themselves).  Even if they know they fouled, they use the rule as their "excuse" not to give up ball-in-hand.  And in actuality, that's the rule and is true.  (however, the rules also talk about unsportsmanlike conduct which this could be considered as.)  But can that person sleep at night knowing they did indeed foul and didn't do the "proper" thing?

I think what is "proper" depends on the person and also on the situation at hand.

I think it also depends on your mood and the situation if you give up fouls or not. If you're the type of person that /always/ gives up a foul, I commend you, because that's not easy to do.  As the philosophical thought experiment says, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 

Do people really give up fouls because someone else might have seen it, or or because they know that they fouled?

What if you are royally pissed off in a match at your opponent or yourself?  Emotions sometimes decipher our decisions as well.

And then of course a lot of people believe in karma so they think, "well if I don't admit to this foul then something like this might happen to me later."

Hitting balls with a friend with no money on the line?  Fess up right away, right? 

So you can see there's a lot that factors into this honor system: 

  • how you were raised
  • how you live your life
  • did anyone see?  
  • do you answer to God?
  • can you sleep well at night?
  • is it a team event? 
  • is it a big state or nationals tournament with a lot on the line?
    • first match 
    • or finals?
  • are you in a certain frame of mind or certain mood?
  • etc.  

I think all of those factor into if you decide to tell your opponent if you fouled or not.  It's not black or white or yes or no for some people.  Some people it's ALWAYS fess up, others it's situation-dependent.

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