In any sport that uses a handicap system, there are always people who try to cheat the system and ruin the meaning of amateur sports. It is important to keep in mind that the APA was designed for the AMATEUR player and offers amateur players a fun and fair organized League system.
The Security and Accuracy of The Equalizer® Handicap System is in Your Hands!
Our Official Team Manual defines Defensive Shots: A defensive shot is a shot where the shooter deliberately misses so as to pass his turn at the table on to his opponent. A safety is a defensive shot because the shooter had no intention of making a ball of his category. Intention is the key word. Sometimes intent can be a matter of opinion and judgment, but the scorekeeper’s judgment must be accepted by the opposing player. Remember that defensive means deliberately missed. Players with integrity call all safeties and intentionally missed shots. The failure to mark defensive shots allows players and teams to advance with inaccurate skill levels.
It is important to mark defensive shots correctly during regular weekly League play and during National Tournaments. If scores are properly marked from day one of the session until the National Tournaments, disqualification would not be an issue. Marking defensive shots does not hurt the honest player. Be leery of players who argue against marking defensive shots!
Most importantly, you must score the game as YOU see it. Sandbagging is the unethical practice of keeping one’s skill level lower than it should be by missing balls or even by losing on purpose. If all deliberate misses (defensive shots) were marked, there would not be successful sandbagging. It is usually quite obvious when a player is sandbagging. Occasionally, a coach can be heard telling his player to miss a few times to run the innings up. It is important to report this type of behavior. In order for sandbagging to take place, BOTH players/teams must fail to follow the rules. The shooter must deliberately cheat, and his/her opponent must fail to mark the deliberate misses on the scoresheet.
Our National Handicap Review Committee was formed to review the performance of each team after every round of play and then make skill level adjustments, if necessary. They also investigate complaints and review elevated skill levels to determine the eligibility status of the team(s) involved. Teams are evaluated from the completion of their Local Team Championships until their final match during the National Team Championships. Every team is reviewed after every round during Nationals and all skill levels are closely monitored. When skill levels change an observer is often assigned to watch the team play during matches.
Each team has two opportunities to certify their team’s skill levels. A team can change their skill levels on a certification notice sent to each Team Captain prior to the start of the National event. Secondly, each member of a team has the opportunity to adjust their skill level when registering for the National event. If you think the skill level on your team roster does not reflect your true playing ability, you can safeguard against disqualification by raising it to reflect your true playing ability. If you are on the roster as a SL4, but you consider yourself a SL5 it is important for you to make the adjustment to a SL5 on the Team Certification Statement. You can have your skill level raised anytime during the session by calling your League Operator.
Two examples of disqualification are described below. In both instances, teams were not marking defensive shots and did not certify their true playing ability:
In the 2001 National Team Championships, a team in the 8-Ball Open Division made the mistake of not marking all of their defensive shots. They quickly found out that cheating resulted in disqualification. They lost their $7,500 prize money. In this case, they only marked true safeties and were not marking their team’s defensive shots. If the shooter had a shot, but did not have a shot after that, he would play “safe” and that shot would be marked. If, however, the shooter did not have a makeable shot, he would play a safe and the team would not mark the shot. This is deliberate cheating.
In the 2002 National Team Championships, a team was disqualified following the semifinal round of the 8-Ball Open Division because a team member moved up two skill levels during the Championships. This situation could have been avoided if the player had played to his or her true skill level during regular League play. This team could have also avoided this problem by certifying this player at a higher skill level before the start of the tournament. They, too, forfeited $7,500 prize money.
This article was originally printed in the Spring 2003 Issue of the American Poolplayer Magazine.