Extending the Hand
After looking over many of the subjects that have been covered, I noticed something. Many people talk about rude players. I myself have even written about players that are only in it to try and win. Many people have even written about bad sportsmanship. Funny thing is, you rarely here about anyone explaining how to be a GOOD sport. It's obvious that there are players out there with bad attitudes, but it's rare that someone gets complimented for being such a good sport.
First of all, being a good sport carries with it a lot of things. I pride myself on being a good sport. Being nice to my opponents has gained me a lot of respect. Common courtesy is the biggest hurdle for some people to get over. Just try not to be offensive. Be friendly. Keep the idea of the game in perspective. It's very easy to be competitive and still have a fun game. It also will make you feel good to be the benchmark of how players should be. People will even get to the point that they look forward to playing you. I even had a player comment before a match once saying, "I was glad to see your name as my opponent. I knew I could have a fun relaxing game after my last opponent was such an @$$."
Another thing to remember, is that having a positive attitude will eventually rub off. Even if there are the tournament regular jerks around, they will straighten up just to keep form being a sore thumb. It's also much more entertaining to be able to make your opponent smile, then look across the table at a ruffled brow. A positive attitude also helps you relax. One of the things I noticed is that many times, the players that are more relaxed are the ones that are truly enjoying themselves.
Another factor people look at as bad sportsmanship is rules lawyering. On a larger professional/competitive level, I think that everyone should know the rules and should play clean. However, on the local level, like Friday Night Magic tournaments, there is no reason to call a judge because of your opponent cutting and shuffling your deck a specific way. Many times you have to remember that some players don't know the rules inside and out. This is very important to keep in perspective in lower level events. The best way to approach this is to explain the rules to your opponent when he makes a mistake. Let them know what the consequences are, then continue on. There is absolutely no reason to upset your opponent or make a scene.
What have a left out....ah yes...talking. I think talking during your match to your opponent is cool. Just don't over do it. If your opponent looks like he/she is in deep thought, give them a few seconds of quiet time to figure things out. not everyone plays the game enough to see the "pro play" instantly. I do think that casual conversation is great. Sometimes right before or after a match, or even during sideboarding, it's a good time just to get to know your opponent. This isn't necessary by any means. It's just another dimension of the game. However, talking during someone else's match is terribly annoying. Keep your conversation to a minimum when you are watching. For that matter, keep your sounds, emotions, actions, everything to a minimum. If you see something during a game that needs to be fixed or done, go call a judge and get them to fix it. Don't rudely interrupt a game in progress.
Something that I personally have had a problem with recently is the phrase of "good game." I had a problem saying it to teams in Junior High that we smashed 40 to 10. That was not really a good game. A comparison in magic would be your opponent getting mana screwed one game and then only drawing one creature the next game. That's not a good game. It was a blow out. Just be honest with them. think about what you are saying before you extend the hand to your opponent. It's as obvious to your opponent as it is to you that the game was lousy. Many times I tell my opponent, "That sucks. I know what it's like to have that happen." "Wish the third game could have been as good at the first one." or even, "I hope the rest of the tournament goes better for you." That's truly the sentiment there. I am more likely to shake my opponents hand after a statement like this, than after a "good game" where I got smashed. :)
In many ways, sportsmanship is a reflecting of your personal character. And whether your attitude at the table is the same attitude you have in everyday life doesn't make a difference. A lot of the people you play will only know your tournament demeanor, as these may be the only times they interact with you. Getting a bad reputation in a tournament, venue, or store is a bad thing. It alienates you whether you see it or not. People will talk about you behind your back. Also when you need cards right before game time, it might become hard to find what you are looking for.
When people discuss the negative aspects of the tournament scene, they usually refer to specific games or players. These are the poor sports that drive people away. That's another major reason everyone should understand how important good sportsmanship is. Good sportsmanship will encourage people to come back and play again. Their tournament experiences can also be learning experiences if the people in their environment handle it well.
In all honesty, my positive attitude and friendly demeanor have helped me a ton in the Magic community. It makes people want to keep coming back to my store. It even got me this writing gig. I know that there is no way I hit on everything that encompasses sportsmanship. These were just a few that were on the top of my brain. There is a lot to be said about being a good sport. Plain and simple: Good sports encourage people to come back to play. Poor sports turn people off to the game.
Honestly, I would love to end my articles each week with a positive experience someone has had at a tournament. If you would like to see a person, store, or tournament organizer, or whoever recognized for providing positive play experiences, let me know. E-mail me and I will try to include at least one per week. The positive people in the Magic community should be recognized more than the negative people and I would love to do my part in getting them the recognition they deserve.
Hasta la bye bye,
DeQuan Watson a.k.a. PowrDragn
name: DeQuan Watson
readers have gathered a lot of information about me
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