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DCI Policy Expands Position on Unsporting Conduct

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Announced yesterday and expanded today on the Magic Judges blog by Sean Catanese, the policy around "Unsporting Conduct – Major" received significant update and increase in coverage across all DCI-sanctioned events.

While the increased penalty to a full match loss for players that commit an offense under the penalty has a clear explanation (It removes the issue where non-offending players had too continue playing in a difficult situation with undue duress.) the expanded itemization of examples makes it clear the penalty is meant to be used to shape Magic events into more inclusive play.

Let’s start with the definition:

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. Threats of physical violence should be treated as Unsporting Conduct – Aggressive Behavior.

It is possible for an offender to commit this infraction without intending malice or harm to the subject of the harassment.

A couple things should jump out at the careful reader here:

1. We’re looking at the cause, not the effect. “Did someone feel uncomfortable?” is not an effective way to determine whether this infraction applies. Though many instances of Unsporting Conduct – Major will start with a complaint from a player, we don’t rely solely on a victim taking the sometimes extraordinary effort to speak up. When we see something awkward or suspicious, we need to act.

2. You can commit this infraction without intending to harm someone. My guess is that many times when this comes up, the person committing it won’t actually understand how they’ve created a toxic environment or why they’ve caused someone else harm. Our position and our remedy allow us to educate here, but the damage is done and the infraction should stand.

The itemized list of new examples include:

  • A player uses a racial slur against his opponent.
  • A player takes inappropriate photos of another player without express permission.
  • A player asks a spectator for a date, is denied, and continues to press the issue.
  • A player purposefully obstructs another player with the intent of inducing physical contact.
  • A spectator uses social media to bully another player.

Like many updated rules of conduct for gaming and professional conventions across the country, these new tools are meant to not just discourage but allow judges to take action against individuals engaging in harassment and other disruptive behavior. For much more detailed explanation and breakdown of the policy, we strongly suggest reading the full post by Sean Cantanese on his Magic Judges blog.


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