Tales from the Jungle, Volume 7: “Is Best Sportsman a dying breed?”

Used without permission.

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.


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5 thoughts on “Tales from the Jungle, Volume 7: “Is Best Sportsman a dying breed?”

  1. Although I haven’t played in any tournaments, I find the idea of a prize for sportsmanship a little weird. It sounds a bit like offering a prize to make people not to be nasty to each other while playing. It’s also rather subjective to judge if prizes are being handed out, as you mention in your article. Still, perhaps it is necessary to encourage people to ‘play nice with others’.

    Anyway, I always appreciate such a well written article.

  2. The thing about sportsmanship in tournies, is that only the two people playing in a game can really evaluate the others’ conduct through its entirety (although I suppose a third party could stand by an watch, theoretically). The more interesting awards like best general and best painted are more easily appreciated and more people can get in on the discussion about them.

    I thinks sportsmanship is still important. Its been a long time since I’ve played in a tournament, but do I remember being concerned about my sportsmanship scores!

  3. around here, there’s also the ‘best loser’ award. to people who take absurd lists / get trounced all day long and can still laugh about it.
    It’s mostly a mention, sometimes a small medal, but still brings out the best

    I for one, love ‘best sportsmanship’. It encourages us to be on our best, and those of us who CAN’T be good, hell, you don’t have to attend.
    The game is meant to have fun and be competitive. If it was all just for pure competition, and NOT fun, we’d see only three armies and two lists floating around.

    I’ve opted out from taking ‘pit of shades’ almost every time I get it (except two times of near 50 games). Why? it’s not very sportsman like in my eyes. My eyes may be cloudy and filled with primal fury, but I just don’t want to win that way, or be remembered as the guy who just sat back and ‘pitted’ the enemy. If I win, it’s on my terms; blood and ruin.

    As a Lizardman general, I can only guess you can appreciate that (low I armies…)

    In a recent tournament, sportsmanship had a HUGE part in who won in the tourney. Best generals and victory points were handicapped by lists scores and sportsmanship. Not huge, but let’s say that 1/3 the entire tournament was Dark elves….and most had double hydra/cauldron/Unkillable/ sac dagger. It’s nice to know, that at the end of the day, the players who tried something different and push themselves get a bone thrown at them.

  4. So yea, I agree that sportsmanship is a big deal but to me, it tends to get overlooked a lot in tournament play. I think it is an absolutely necessary award and I like when awards are given out to “last place” or “softest army list”… That really shows that the guy wasn’t trying to win, which means he didn’t care to put together the strongest list possible.

    I like the idea of the sportsmanship score handicapping the overall scores like you mentioned zebrazach. I say award the guys that are trying something different and (somewhat) handicap the guys that bring the standard winning army lists. Sportsmanship is such a huge part of this hobby and I don’t think it needs to go away… I think it needs to be highlighted more in tournaments. Thanks for the comments, it raises some good discussion IMO.

  5. As a dedicated tourney player as well as a TO, Best Sports is as an important award as Best General IMO. It does not get attention during a tourney since no one knows where you stand until the very end.

    I just try to provide a fun and memorable game so when it comes down to Best Game votes, I can collect some. I know they have often pushed me over the top for a Best Overall and is what differentiates me from those that show up just to win games. It is also why I try to tone down the lists I bring. Getting your teeth kicked in by the Uber list of death is never a pleasant experience.

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