Personally, I think these 3 questions pretty much sum of the issue of sportsmanship, soft score or necessary evil?
- What is the genesis of the sportsmanship score at 40K tournaments?
- What does one hope to accomplish by scoring sportsmanship?
- If you score sportsmanship how do you ensure your players all follow the same guidelines?
Let me start by going on the record, "sportsmanship is of the utmost importance!" If/when I TO a tournament, I have a zero tolerance policy for flagrant sportsmanship violations. The issue is that TOs really can't see enough of what is going on to adequately apply this mantra. I'm also surprised by how many people I've talked to after a tournament tell me about someone who should have been given a stern lecture or even the boot but their opponent didn't want to cause any problems by pointing out their bad behavior. I hate to say it but passive behavior like this makes it so that jerks can get away with their bad behavior and the rest of us get penalized as a result; let me explain.
Sportsmanship often contributes to Best Overall. It is designed to make sure people have fun. But it is a soft score, and therefore subjective. Really subjective; even more than paint.
A TO needs to decide if they are trying to reward good sports, keep bad sports away, or ad a wishy washy third value to best overall. You can probably tell I'm not in favor of scoring sportsmanship. I have to say that its been a long road getting here, but I am not. I was a year ago...
My partner and I recently lost 3rd place at the Twin-inked tournament at Great Escape games to another team. This team scored 1 less point than us, but had perfect sportsmanship, where as our first round opponent docked us 2 points. Mark, the TO told everyone (who was listening) that if anyone marked their opponent full sportsmanship they would have to explain to him why. I didn't hear him ask anyone why later...
So, we played a good game. I gave our opponent the benefit of the doubt on many rules issues that had I been hardcore I would not have. We were friendly, we bought our opponents bottled water and we get docked 2 points on sportsmanship. Did the desired effect come out from including sportsmanship in the mix? Maybe other teams were on better behavior, but I don't know what else I could have done.
Factor in the fact that the top table had screaming and alleged throwing of dice and both teams got perfect sportsmanship and I'm not sure where to go from here...
My message to Mark, and any TO listening: have a zero tolerance policy, walk around and enforce it, and quit asking your players to apply a poorly designed and poorly enforced scoring rubric that isn't consistently applied no matter how much you try. Unless you are going to rank sportsmanship and paint scores 1 to N (like win loss, or even on a curve) the models don't work.