Some of you who keep a closer ear to the tournament scene might have heard about a change to Unsporting Conduct – Major. Among other things, we’ve upgraded this penalty from a Game Loss to a Match Loss, and now focuses on players who make a toxic or unwelcome environment.
To start off with, let’s take a look at the definition from the Infraction Procedure Guide:
A player takes action towards one or more individuals that could reasonably be expected to create a feeling of being harassed, threatened, bullied, or stalked. This may include insults based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
So why this change? When playing in a Magic event, we want players to feel welcome and safe. And the actions and words of a player can potentially be harmful to them. Even if that player says or does something without the intent to harm them, we still need to step in and investigate. Sometimes, someone doesn’t want to speak up, but we still want to step in and curb this bad habit before it does harm someone. Judges should also take some time to educate the player about their behavior and why it is bad. Hopefully, the player will understand why what they did was inappropriate.
And why the penalty was upgraded to a match loss? Two reasons. Before, you could sit down for your match, make a derogatory comment to your opponent, get the USC – Major penalty of Game Loss, then your opponent still has to sit there and play you for a game or two. This makes it very uncomfortable for the opponent. The other reason why it was changed to a match loss is that it gives the some time to cool off, rather than have things escalated beyond control.
I feel like I could go into more detail, but it’s already been done by someone else. I’d like to link to two articles written by Level 4 Judge Sean Catanese. This first article is a more general article about the change, while this article addresses some of the more common questions that have popped up.
Today’s Tournament Tip written by Nathan Long