Written by Kim Warren
Level 4, United Kingdom
It’s the most wonderful time of the season: JAR update time!
With the M15 policy update, there were some big changes on how we handle Unsporting Conduct at Competitive and Professional REL, but not much of a change at Regular. That has been fixed with this update, and is really the only major change – the rest is just housekeeping. This change can be seen at the end of the General Unwanted Behaviours section, and I consider it important enough that I’m just going to paste the whole thing here:
Regular REL is many players’ first experience of tournament Magic, so ensuring a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere is important. A player whose behaviour may be upsetting others or making them uncomfortable should be educated and asked to stop immediately. If they make no attempt to correct their behaviour, applying a Game Loss may reinforce the seriousness of the issue. If this does not stop the behaviour, or if a player is being threatening, aggressive or harassing other players, these situations are Serious Problems.
After some discussion, we decided that it was important to lay out a very clear path for dealing with inappropriate conduct at Regular REL, both to help empower judges to tackle it and to set expectations that there is a minimum acceptable standard of behaviour. As with everything at Regular REL, though, there is some flexibility to enforce a standard of behaviour appropriate to your play group. One of my local stores runs events targeted at school kids to whom they do a lot of outreach, and other events targeted at an older play group. There are definitely things that players could do or say that I would let slide in the ‘older’ events, but that I would request that they stop at the ‘younger’ events as it would be inappropriate in that environment.
There are a couple of details that I want to draw attention to. The first of these is that in the case that you have educated a player about why their behaviour is problematic, you should not escalate to a game loss if they appear to be trying to correct it – even if they are not immediately successful. When a behaviour is habitual, it can take a lot of thought and effort to change it, and occasional lapses from someone who is making an effort to improve their behaviour should not be dealt with harshly. A simple reminder should be sufficient in the case of someone who is trying – especially if you reinforce it with positive feedback occasionally to let them know that you have noticed that they are trying to improve and appreciate it. The second of these is the fact that severely inappropriate conduct should not get a warning; players displaying threatening, harrassing or aggressive behaviour should be removed from the tournament straight away before the behaviour has a chance to escalate. Be mindful of your own personal safety in these situations, especially with aggressive players; it may be wise to take them aside and give them time to calm down before informing them that you will be disqualifying them.
The drive behind these changes is to ensure that Regular REL events can be friendly, welcoming places for anyone to go into. This doesn’t mean that you need to become draconian in cracking down on well-meaning name-calling between friends, for example! Just bear in mind how that kind of behaviour will appear to other people and, if you think that it might have gone too far, let them know that they may need to tone it down a little and explain why. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me, ask in the forums or ask in the comments here!