This subject has been a sore spot for many lately. If you go over to Dakka Dakka and visit their Tournament Discussions forum there is an interesting thread about this subject that was started by Blackmoor. Here is a quote from a good friend of mine, Al Gleason:
"Those that don't like it fuss about it, those that do like it fuss about it. No one's going to agree.
"There's a really vocal group here that doesn't care for them - as far as I know either haven't played in a lot of tourneys or haven't done very well in them - or had a bad experience. Whatever - sorry if you had a bad time.
"Personally, I've played in GT's since '99 and a boatload of other tourneys (Adepticon, Big Waagh, RTT's, etc). I think the most fun tourneys were the early one's in 99 and 2000. They had Comp, Sportsmanship, painting, etc. But - they were fun. Not the drama around cheating that is today, not the win at all costs mentality - and they were FUN! It's not hard to get a good sports score. Be decent to people, give them what you would expect, be nice. Out of 100+ tourney opponents I had a handful that weren't fun to play and maybe 2 that were even close to being jerks.
"This whole thing about all the drama about bad players, cheating, win at all costs, TFG, etc - it's REALLY getting blown all out of proportion. A bunch of internet drama queens have really made it into some huge conspiracy thing. I suggest that we has a hobby group collective STOP it - enjoy the d@mn games - play and have fun, thank the tourney organizers for the effort they put on for US to have fun - and stop the crap. I'm guilty of feeding this as well by even replying to these threads."
I don't think I could have put it any better!
So what is the definition of sportsmanship? Here is a quote from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
"conduct (as fairness, respect for one's opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport"
It's simple really and what is so bad about expecting your opponents to demonstrate good sportsmanship? There is absolutely nothing wrong at all. We all want to win but it's just not possible to win every single game. Sure there will always be a few bad apples and there is no getting around that but by being a good sport yourself you can greatly help to mitigate bad situations in a game. I think we should all be stewards of good sportsmanship. It's not always possible for we are only human but if you come to the table in the right frame of mind and maintain it through discipline then you have already won more than half the battle. I'll be the first to admit I have had my share of games where I blew up and lost my cool. That is exactly what the TFGs are banking on too. If you can keep a cool head and stick to your game plan then their little games within the game can be brought to a halt. So really when you get down to it being a good sport will help you win more games in the long run. These are just a few reasons why sportsmanship is important and I believe it is a very important part of our hobby.
Now on the other hand if you are a TFG then you know that soft scores such as sportsmanship are only going to hurt you overall in the long run. Maybe you can get over on some opponents and convince them to give you a score you didn't really deserve but there will always be those who will mark you down. The TFGs want to systematically remove all soft scores so they can deconstruct the game down to a level where they suffer no penalty for cheating and being a bad sport. The TFGs want to remove each and every category for soft scores and they will do it one at a time. Pretty much now you can bring a pro painted army to a tournament and receive full scores; it used to not be that way though only a few years ago. So you can sit back and let the TFGs lobby for what they want or don't want and if you remain silent they will eventually take it away.