Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Picking Favorites - Sportsmanship @ the Open
A lovely subject, don't you think?
Last year, at our "biggest" tourney of the year (not too big, an outdoor affair), we went with a different approach to sportsmanship, and it's one that I think we'll echo this year at the Open so far - but I want some input.
First, I'm going to (again, hope they aren't thinkin' I'm picking on them) use Adepticon results (those that were available to collate) to highlight a GOOD example of "typical" sportsmanship playing out.
What Adepticon does, for those that don't know, is present a "list" for players to check through. In the case of the 40k championships, 12 questions about your opponent ranging from "were rules arguments resolved amicably" to "would you voluntarily play this person again?" You scored your opponent "1" point for each, to a max of 12 per round. If you finished the Championships with perfect sportsmanship, you scored a 36.
Let's take a look at the scoring spread for their various 40k events, utilizing that scoring format (I would have analyzed Fantasy too but their site didn't have the results independently viewable).
Combat Patrol - Friday (Max Score for Sports - 9)
59 participants (ringer musta played)
50 scores of "9" (Max)
5 scores of "8"
3 scores of "7"
1 score of "6"
We see that the "average" sports score, then, by far is the "max" ... you have no idea who the true best sportsman is, and they no doubt broke it by some arbitrary tiebreaker (in the case of Adepticon, presuming same as other tourneys, they broke it by giving it to the LOWEST battle point scorer). It's also clear who probably the worst sport is ... at least one of the two superlatives is highlighted, discouraging being a "bad" sport. Let's see if it's the same for the rest ...
Combat Patrol - Saturday
52 scores of "9" (Max)
1 score of "8"
1 score of "7"
Yup, one arbitrary guy of the 52 gets best sportsmanship award
OK, but that's just combat patrol, what about the "big" events ...
40k Championships (Yellow Heat) - Sunday
109 scored participants (presume ringer played) ... max sports score of 36
72 scores of "36"
10 scores of "35"
9 scores of "34"
5 scores of "33"
3 scores of "32"
2 scores of "31"
1 score of "30"
1 score of "29"
1 score of "28"
1 score of "27"
4 scores of "24" (these could be terrible games, you got 0, or "score sheet not turned in properly, no idea obviously)
40k Championships (Blue Heat) - Sunday
110 participants, Max score of 36
85 scores of "36"
5 scores of "35"
4 scores of "34"
7 scores of "33"
2 scores of "32"
1 score of "28"
5 scores of "24"
1 score of "19"
So, with 219 players, 72% of them were tied for a prize and "best sport" ...
Now let's take a look at something really interesting ... the Team Tournament ... 110 teams, 440 players ... max score of 56
52 scores of "56"
20 scores of "55"
8 scores of "54"
4 scores of "53"
7 scores of "52"
4 scores of "51"
2 scores of "50"
5 scores of "49"
2 scores of "48"
3 scores of "45"
1 score of "44"
1 scores of "41"
So, results and interpretation ...
For combat patrol net ---> 90% tied for best sport
For 40k championships net ---> 72% tied for best sport
For Team Championships net ---> 47% tied for best sport
What can we glean from the Team Championship scores being more varied, and perhaps (arguably) more realistic? I'd like some folks to guess, b/c I just have a theory. My theory is that sportsmanship via a checklist done in front of your opponent is a PRESSURE GAME. When it's just one on one, you're far more likely to give max sports to AVOID CONFLICT. When you're with a full team of your friends, however ... strength in number. There's far less pressure to give an opposing team "max score," b/c conflict is actually less likely when you have friends around (or the fear of conflict, rather).
That's a side note, though, the team vs. singles score phenom ... and not relevant to what we do.
What I think happens in this scoring system is not a bad thing, but it turns Sportsmanship into a consolation prize very often. Almost everyone (or at least a significant majority) is going to get max sports, and so you give to the person(s) with the lowest battle points. Yay, you get a prize, you nice people you! Especially in a major GT where you have to explain the tiebreaking and scoring procedures, this can actually be more than a little insulting.
So what do we do?
Well, at the end of the day, we have you rate your opponents. Yup - that's right. You'll each get a sheet that has your 4 opponents listed on them, plus a note about the codex / army they played as a reminder. You'll have to rate them, 1-4, 1 being the highest, 4 being the lowest.
NOT EVERYBODY LIKES HAVING TO RATE SOMEONE A 4! That's ok ... you're not rating someone "worst" and someone else "best." Well, you're rating someone most fun, and the other people "almost but not quite AS fun." You can shake it however you want, what happens is this in practice:
The "Median" becomes a middling number, where your average score was 2.5 if you're in the middle of the pack - a good, decent human being who was sporting and enjoyable enough to play with. This shunts those GIANT number accumulations to the MIDDLE of the scoreboard, and makes the people who get all or almost all 1's a much smaller population total, and a truly "class act" bunch of folks. It's also a smaller crop to have to filter out ... if you're lucky as a TO, it's a REALLY small crop (as little as "1" person to get all 1's).
Similarly, this helps you identify the problem folks to backtrack and record on in the future. In the 40k championship games above, I can guarantee you they weren't all fun. I know we scored some opponents with most of their points who were total jackasses in one team round ... downright dicks. Maybe they thought the same of us too, but we all got max points - I know, I saw both score sheets. In the rate-your-opponents format, where one person has to get a "1," one gets a 2, one gets a 3, one gets a 4, and they can't all get "max," the jackasses filter to the bottom too, instead of using peer pressure or other "sportsmanship gaming" tactics to keep themselves at max points.
AND HEY, at the NOVA Open we don't connect sports to competitiveness, so they have a right to be sporting, fair, non-cheating players ... but they're not required to make a "sappy sweet" game of sportsmanship. Again, separate but equal - the people who ACTUALLY are good people get the right and recognition of competing for best sportsmanship, and the people who aren't, aren't as pressured to do MORE than "play fair, don't cheat, respect your opponent."
Remember, at ANY tournament ... terrible sportsmanship is noticed, punished, and managed, regardless of a "sportsmanship" score.