A player takes action that is disruptive to the tournament or its participants.
Actions can be “disruptive” in multiple ways. We can’t write an exhaustive list of everything disruptive because every place in the world where Magic is played has its own rules for civil life. Note that we said “disruptive”, not “offensive”, although offensive statements are almost always disruptive. The IPG makes no effort to determine if a player is “offended” as that leads to inconsistent rulings and opens up the potential for players to “game the system” by pretending to be more offended than they really are.
The IPG is applied in the same way for all problems of this type, but each judge must determine what is acceptable or not from their own experience and judgment.
Participants have the responsibility to not ruin the enjoyable atmosphere of the tournament, so as judges we must take care to educate players. If Magic is to be a game where people have fun with each other, we must prevent behaviors that damage this. Our goal is to educate the players to be respectful in the tournament and to signal that certain behaviors are not acceptable. While “minor” may be in the title of the infraction, it is still a formal infraction and has an upgrade path. Do not confuse “minor” with how seriously we are to treat the issue. However, you also need to be cautious to not over-apply what is disruptive by taking the most extreme definition.
A player failing to follow a judge’s direct instruction is also disruptive; perhaps to the tournament or to the Judges themselves. When a judge tells a player to do something, it is for the good of the event or to enforce a specific policy concern or tournament rule. We don’t tell players to change their behavior for the fun of it, or to exercise our authority because we can. Keep in mind there is a reasonable limit to what you can instruct a player to do. We don’t tell them “Go stand in the rain for 20 min”, but we will tell them “Quit shuffling in your lap.”
Finally, if the disruptive behavior is neither Unsporting Conduct — Major nor Aggressive Behavior, then it is Unsporting Conduct — Minor.
It may affect the comfort level of those around the individual, but determining whether this is the case is not required.
- A player uses excessively vulgar and profane language.
- A player inappropriately demands to a judge that their opponent receive a penalty.
- A player appeals to the Head Judge before waiting for the floor judge to issue a ruling.
- A player throws their deck on the ground after losing a game.
- A player leaves excessive trash in the play area after leaving the table.
- A player fails to follow the request of a tournament official to leave the play area.
All participants should expect a safe and enjoyable environment at a tournament, and a player needs to be made aware if their behavior is unacceptable so that this environment may be maintained.
Wearing offensive clothing does not generally fall under this infraction. Wearing clothing is a passive activity, and as such only the most extreme lapses in judgement should be considered for this infraction. Unsporting Conduct – Minor applies either for specific actions or for the failure to perform specific actions. When an article of clothing is deemed reasonably offensive, simply ask the player to remove the shirt/cover it up/turn it inside out, and issue no penalty. Apply the infraction only if the player fails to comply with your directions.
With regard to the directed instructions, judges have a lot of authority in an event. When a judge directly instructs a player to perform an action, this infraction gives the judge the authority to enforce compliance. This doesn’t mean judges can abuse this authority; when judges give direct instructions, it must be for the benefit of the tournament.
The player must correct the problem immediately.
Subsequent Unsporting Conduct — Minor infractions, even for different offenses, will result in a Game Loss.
Note that this infraction is upgraded even if the second infraction is unrelated to the previous infraction. Keep in mind this is also relevant for direct instructions. If a judge gives a player a direct instruction to not perform an action, and the player still does, the player will get a warning for USC-Minor. Continuing to do so after the first infraction will result in a game loss.
If a Game Loss is issued for repeated infractions, and it occurs at the end of a game, it is acceptable for the judge to apply the penalty to the next game instead.
If you want a deeper knowledge about USC you can read this great Unsporting Conduct Article.