Cherry-picking - A Never-Ending Debate
In an open league, it is inevitable that a debate arises around what is and is not a fair game. Are there coaches that deliberately try and avoid certain games or do some coaches just have a different preference in their gaming style? The answer is, of course, yes to both. In an open league there are teams created over time to be killing machines, often seeing the ball as a last resort, whilst other teams see even a needless block as an unfriendly gesture when there is the chance to score and recommence play for yet more touchdowns.
So what is cherry-picking? Well, it is many things, but first and foremost it is unreasonably maximising your odds to win games. In fact it is best described in the words of SkiJunkie himself: 'I would say you are a cherry picker if you constantly issue challenges that, were the team owner's reversed, you yourself would decline'. Some coaches repeatedly start new Norse or Amazon teams for a few games, and then retire them. Others may have four or five Claw and Razor Sharp Claws players on their team, but refuse challenges from other Claw sides. Some may only challenge coaches with Coach Rating under 145; and still other coaches might only challenge down 20 or 30 points of Team Strength, or pick teams 26 Team Rating points higher so they receive handicaps. The key point is, these coaches do not do these things just once or twice, they do it constantly.
Now, before we get too far along this painful path, let's look at the grey area. If every coach played an equally matched team (perhaps Dark Elves versus High Elves), at the same TR, TS and CR, then over time with equal dice their winning record would be exactly 50%, but these circumstances just don't exist in actual play. When a coach looks at a game he weighs up many things: the bashier teams will look to wipe many elves from the field before they score too many times; while an elf coach will be calculating how many TDs he can score before he has lost too many players to stop the final assault of, say, Dwarves, who rarely score more than twice per game. These are factors that every coach can and should consider in an open division, but those who become too systematic and exclusive about their match selections become cherry-pickers.
However, there is hope for us all, more so after the recent changes to FUMBBL. The FUMBBL SMACKs and other official tournaments give you the perfect chance to play games where your team cannot be avoided. Also, an inspection of a coach's history can give you some insight into just who is challenging you. If you are in any doubt about a match offer, just say, 'No thanks'. Some may argue and be offended that you declined their match, but if they do then odds are they would not have been a fun coach to play against anyway. If you decline games that you think would be unfair, then you are ensuring that the true (and few) cherry-pickers out there will spend longer finding a match. Someone who offers fun and fair match-ups will find a game soon enough.
As for coaches who are tired of being declined, perhaps you should look more to yourself than to your opponent. If you have a real killer side, then by all means be proud of it, but do not act surprised when the fifth elven coach in a row declines your challenge. Join a Smack or one of the many Unranked tournaments, or just accept that it may take you a little longer to get games. Often people do not mind losing players, they just have no wish to lose a whole team.
The open environment of Fumbbl is not so different to the world at large. There is much that goes on that we agree with, but even more that happens that we dislike, so the best we can do is to accept that the rest of the world will go on about us in its own way, whilst doing what we can to make our lot a bit better. If we just say, 'No thanks', to matches we view as unfair, and take no offence at a declined match and move on then we have done our bit. The rest of the world will carry on regardless, and the cherry-pickers will carry on their own game against new players, or even players that view the game as an unusual challenge, but at least by declining their challenge you will have ensured that games are that bit harder for them to find.