Back again this week with a new write up about sportsmanship. We all know what it is and how big a part of Warhammer (and table top gaming, in general) it is. Read along and let me know what you think about this week’s article…. “Tales from the Jungle – Volume 7: Is Best Sportsman a dying breed?” By: Ro. Nevarez. (a.k.a. Iggy Koopa)
One of the first things I do when attending a tournament (after setting up my army, of course) is walk around and check out the other armies that are there – as well as the players. I usually make it a point to introduce myself to other players, ask how long they’ve been playing, what army they brought, etc, etc… you know, the typical stuff to carry on a gamer conversation. One of the things that I’ve begun to notice more and more is the amount of people you can pick out who are there to win certain trophies / categories. I’ve met guys that have straight up come out and said they’ve won the last 3 tournaments they’ve been in, swept another one last year, and will accept nothing less than overall champ at the current one… I’ve also had guys tell me they’ve been painting late at night, prepping for the tournament, getting every model looking wonderful and mistake free, all in hopes of walking away with the best painted trophy…. And still I’ve had other guys tell me that they’re there simply for the swag, hoping they can walk away with some new, cool stuff. Now, in being around the GT circuit for the last few years, I must admit that I have NEVER heard anybody say they are trying to win Best Sportsman… EVER. Why is this? When I was first introduced to the hobby one of the things that appealed to me was the camaraderie that I felt from the guys that I started out with. It was cool to talk about how the game was going, teaching me new rules and tactics, and basically just enjoying the game for what it is. It was through this learning process that I believed that sportsmanship played such a huge, pivotal role…
Because of the nature of Warhammer it has the potential to bring out the absolute worst sportsman in each and every person. It seems that nobody is immune to it. I’ve seen some of the nicest guys in the world become irate when something doesn’t go their way. I’d also be lying if I said that I hadn’t gotten upset before during the heat of battle… It’s just the way it goes. But does that make you a bad sportsman? One or two outbursts every blue moon…? Dunno. One of the things I have noticed, however, is that most people that are there to win it all tend to throw Sportsmanship by the wayside, accepting that they are going to get dinged along the way because their army outmatches most others that are there. But what about their opponent? Shouldn’t it be considered bad sportsmanship for them to instinctively mark the guy down just because he handed out an ass whippin’? Even if the guy is genuinely a nice guy I know people that will mark him down just because they felt his army was too powerful… Bad sportsmanship, right?
Flip it back to the guys who are out to win Overall Champion… they will usually make their lists so tough that you have to use your “General-ing” skills to match them, just to have a chance. Are they considered bad sportsmen because they know the other guy doesn’t have much of a chance…? In any event, take the guy that’s there to win it all and the guy that’s there just to have some fun and get out of the house for the weekend and neither one of them will tell you they were there to be a good sportsman. If you’ve ever noticed, when they announce Best Sportsman in the final awards ceremony, usually the guy that wins it is the most surprised! I guess what I’m saying is that in this new GT world that we live and play in, the world where we can get tickets into the final Las Vegas tournaments for winning 1st or 2nd place, and win hundreds of dollars in prizes and swag, the world where we can reap the benefits of making a “nearly impossible to beat” list and simply trounce opponents along the way to the top… has this made the Best Sportsman a dying breed? I hardly ever hear anybody say “The guy I just played should win Best Sportsman this weekend, he was just too nice of a guy…” When it gets down to the final game and the top 4-5 guys that are in the running to win overall are at the top tables you will notice that they tend to draw a crowd… people want to see who is going to win Best General or Overall Champion… You never see anybody standing around tables saying “Yep, he IS the best sportsman here…” Maybe the promise of the many different prizes and awards you can win has made the competition overtake the sportsmanship aspect (although I’ve seen Best Sportsman walk away with some pretty good swag before)… So has the rise of tournament play over the last 10 years made sportsmanship fall by the wayside? Or is it just something that every player is aware of, but choose to keep it in their backpocket, because outwardly, it’s really not that big of a deal? As always, thanks for reading.