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Blood Vow

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Monday, March 15, 2010

On the subject of sportsmanship at tournaments

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.



TheKing Elessar said...

Sorry, but I don't agree with your lines of reasoning. Your article is deliberately worded in such a way that it implies the only rational way to comment is to agree, and if you don't you're TFG - you're missing the point that TFGs will also mark your Sports score down if they don't stomp you, maybe even if they do. Giving players the power to control how their opponent's do, and affect their chances of winning outside of beating/drawing with them is lame, and Epic Fail as a concept. Maybe people just didn't get caught cheating before the widespread use of Forums/Blogs?

Doofus said...

Thanks for your feedback Elessar. It's greatly appreciated.

Like I said sportsmanship is a prickly topic. I was focusing on the topic of what is sportsnanship, why I think it's needed and finally how it can make you a better gamer.

Sportsmanship is far more encompassing than a score. Refer to the definition I provided from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Sportsmanship is a state of mind. While the game is not a sport persay the concept still applies to the hobby, very much so in my opinion.

To address your premise Personally I think the whole issue revolving around TFGs is being blown out of porportion. I do also think TFGs would rather there be no soft scores as I pointed out in detail in the original post. How to properly address the issue of TFGs is a whole nother discussion. I can start another thread so we can discuss that there and try to do it proper justice.

I have had games against TFGs and they tank my soft scores but this is the exception generally speaking. I have found that big tournaments that are based solely on battlepoints tend to bring out the worst in people. If scoring sportsmanship makes most people consider their behaviour and how they treat their opponents then that is the basis for some merit.

The anti sportsmanship maintains a firm stance that some players are unscrupulous and will game the system, manipulating their opponents for high scores while at the same time chipmunking them in the process. Sure it happens but I don't think it is that big of an occurences to simply dismiss sportsmanship altogether. Like I said above the proper way to handle TFGs is a whole nother discussion.


Danny Internets said...

"The anti sportsmanship maintains a firm stance that some players are unscrupulous and will game the system, manipulating their opponents for high scores while at the same time chipmunking them in the process. Sure it happens but I don't think it is that big of an occurences to simply dismiss sportsmanship altogether."

You have misunderstood everyone labeled as part of the "anti sportsmanship" camp. No one in any of the threads on Dakka is advocating dismissing sportsmanship. Rather, they are dismissing the arbitrary and subjective *quantification* of sportsmanship because it negates the legitimacy of any event billed as a competition. Conventional methods of enforcing good sportsmanship fail utterly and only open up the system for further and more egregious abuse from the same people that prompted the creation of the system in the first place.

Terminus Est said...

I've seen some great examples of how to score sportsmanip. One method is at the end of the tourney you rank each opponent as follows. Suppose it's five games then you score your opponent whom you felt was the best sportsman 5 points. You score your opponent whom you felt was the worst sportsman a 1. Everyone else falls inbetween. I have looked at the results of this type scoring and for the most part the scores from one player tended to be the same with little variance. It's not as easy to chipmunk and you can block vote for your buddies. If possible try to make sure friends don't play each other if possible within the confines of a Swiss pairing style of system.

Here is another good example of how to score sportsmanship. You have the following three choices to award each player:

• My opponent was by far the best sport I have ever played. (-5)
• My opponent was a fair sport. (0)

• My opponent was a poor sport. (-5)

As a TO you know that no one player should hand out two or more +5 scores. If someone does talk to them, see who they played and tell them to be honest. Again if you see someone handing over 2 or more bagels sit down with them, talk about it and discuss these games with their opponents. It's very easy to spot block voting and chipmunking since there is relatively little middle ground. Most players should receive a zero. Very few should receive the top score. If you observe one player handing two or more bagels then have a discussion to see why. The TOs should proactively monitor these scores and this system helps the judges to spot potential shennigans. If you see one player hand out all bagels then that could be grounds for disqualification. I've DQd players before, I'm not afraid to do it and everyone is informed how the system works well ahead of time. A simple and easy to understand definition of sportsmanship should be provided so that players understand how and what they are scoring. The TOs play a huge roll and must be ever vigilant.

Like I said when I judge I keep an eye out walking from table to table. If players seem to always have disputes with one particular person this is a big red flag. Keep an eye out and encourage players to speak during a game if they are encountering lots of problems. Be strict and apply discipline. They will love you for that.