On Sportsmanship Scores

I started replying to one of Col. Corbane’s posts on sportsmanship, and I got long-winded enough to convert it into a post of my own.  The problem of scoring this category is that, like any other category, people will try to get the best possible score–even if that means that some have to exploit the system to do so.    The irony of this post, and many antagonists to sportsmanship scores in general is that those that twist the sportsmanship points around to their advantage are ironically the same people who deserve the lower scores.

If you’re fun to play with, then you’ll naturally get a high score–even if you don’t know the rules perfectly.  As a game, a major goal should be to ensure that all involved parties enjoy themselves, and people that can manage that are the best to play against.  If you’re giving your opponent lower sportsmanship scores just to win the tourny, then you deserve to have low scores yourself.

Perhaps a solution would be an attempt to objectify sportsmanship scores.  Just give a list of requirements and your opponent gets points for each they achieve:

  1. You enjoyed playing the game against your opponent (weighed heavily for the average)
  2. Your opponent was friendly
  3. Your opponent didn’t get mad during the game
  4. Your opponent didn’t whine or cry during the game
  5. You do not believe your opponent cheated during the game
  6. You do not feel that your opponent exploited rules to their advantage
  7. You would be happy to play this opponent again.

Instead of making it a simple yes/no, give them a graded scale of 1-5 (Strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree/disagree, agree, strongly agree), and the average score they achieve is their points for sportsmanship in the round.  This way, if you play a good clean game, you can assure you come back with a good score. 

And here’s the kicker:  You can’t keep these secret from your opponent.  At the end of each round, you sign your revew of your opponent and those scores are posted for the entire tournament to see.  The theory i that if you have to say to your opponent’s face what you’ve scored them, you’ll probably be more honest about it.  If not, the fact that everyone can see that you give low scores to your opponents can give them a clearer idea of what kind of gamer you really are.

Lastly, it could be used as a learning tool.  Those that consistantly get rated as low in one category, can see why they’re being docked points and can work to improve things in the future.  If I’m see I’m getting docked because my opponents think I’m cheating–even though I’m not–it can foster open dialogue between us.  Maybe the problem is that I pick up my dice too quickly after rolling them, and my opponents are skeptical.  Whatever the case, it helps me realize that I should slow down.

So, those who really embody good sportsmanship will get naturally high scores, those that are flawed but trying should get reasonable scores (and learn how they can improve them in the future), and those that are looking to use sportsmanships as merely a tool to win, should get docked accordingly.

Granted, there’s no way a single post can squeslch this ongoing debate, but it’s a thought… There are many sources out there on the matter.  Another good read is on BoLS’s website, in a timely editorial: The Spirit of the Game

T-shirt image from http://www.zazzle.com; Demotivational posters from http://www.motifake.com.  If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of sportsmanship scores (and cheesy photos)

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5 comments on “On Sportsmanship Scores

  1. I've always thought that Sportsmanship should be handled in a much different fassion:There should be 3 (maybe four) prizes in tournaments.- Battle Winner – Most Battle Points- Best Painted – Obvious- Best Sportsman – ObviousEasy enough to do and still keeps the competitive nature “Pure”So while somebody may be an asshole, it's easy to track, and if they're cheating the TO has the RESPONSIBILITY to throw them out. I've heard a lot of the “Players Police Themselves” being thrown around, this is not fair to anybody. The TO has a duty as the orginizer to keep an eye on things.

  2. In the one tourney I did attend, this was actually how it washandled… although it invariably leads to each supporting sectionthinking theirs is more important. All things being equal, it makesgood sense though. As long as you can make things relatively balancedin the way of prizes…

  3. The problem remains that plenty of people are simply going to mark their opponent down for winning. Sportsmanship scores don't have any good way around this, because they can't be objective. There's too many ways to interpret behavior (as either offensive or acceptable) to make any kind of ironclad rules one way or the other.In my opinion, sportsmanship should be handled the way most professional games/sports handle it: don't worry about it. If your opponent is cheating or otherwise being dicey, call a judge. If not, don't fret over whether his table banter is the kind you enjoy.

  4. The theory is that if people are forced to explain why they rated you atless than perfect, and may be held accountable for their reasonings, thenthey'll be more prone to answer honestly (or favorably). Removing theanonimity is really the key there. It's my understanding that you're nevercompletely sure who gave you what score and why in tournaments.If someone abuses the system, it should be fairly easy to tell (Hrmmm, yourated this one player badly and everyone else rated him outstanding?Something fishy here…).The thing is that a skilled player can manipulate the game to theiradvantage in an unsporting way that's perfectly legal. For example, in thedays where I used to play magic. I could force any game to be calledbecause of time by simply announcing everything I did: 1. I am now entering my upkeep phase. Do you want to play any fast effects? 2. No? I also choose not to play any fast effects. 3. I am now tapping this swamp (as a mana source) to put a single black mana into my mana pool. 4. Would you like to play any fast effects? 5. No? I also choose not to play any fast effects. 6. There is now a single black mana in my mana pool. 7. I am now tapping this oher swamp (also as a mana source)….It's perfectly legal, and unbelievably annoying. The thing is that it'stechnically accurate, and it's actually a superior way to play–if you canstomach playing at a snail's pace and annoying your opponent to death. (Forthe record, I only ever managed to play 1 turn that way before boring myselfinto submission).The same premise could be done in 40k. Forcing every move to be measuredindependantly, rolling every die seperately, etc. can make the game unfun,while being completely within the rules…I've gone way off topic here, but the point is that winners of tourniesshouldn't be bad sports. In my opinion, winners should be well-roundedgenerals, painters, modellers, and yes, they should be fun to play. Ifyou're lacking in any of those categories, you don't deserve to win. Theonly way to ensure that is to attribute points to sportsmanship. On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Disqus <

  5. I like the idea of a comment card style approach to sportsmanship, with tickboxes for maybe half a dozen points, to be filled in (quickly) after each round.From my tournament experience I've discovered that the bigger the tourney, the bigger the prize (kudos), the bigger the problem. I did 3 years at UKGT and decided never to go back as I never really enjoyed the gaming there – don't get me wrong, I did meet to great players whilst there but they were definitely in the minority. Being completely transparent about the scoring in each game – available for all to see – would be great, and I think people would err on the positive side so as not to look bad or jeopardise their place.

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