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Unacceptable Behavior

New NSA Policy on Disruptive, Intimidating and other Unacceptable Behavior

Synopsis:

The following is a policy adopted by the National SCRABBLE® Association and the NSA Advisory Board to address the ongoing problem of abusive and/or inappropriate behavior at tournaments. It restates and clarifies the authority of tournament directors at their discretion to penalize offending players. All tournament players must read, understand and abide by this new policy as a condition to participating in any NSA-sanctioned tournament.

As a result of an escalating number of complaints from directors and players attending SCRABBLE® game tournaments in recent months, the NSA, with assistance and advice from the NSA Advisory Board, has determined it to be in the best interests of tournament participants to publish a uniform policy to prevent disruptive, intimidating and other unacceptable behavior from occurring at NSA-sanctioned tournaments in the United States and Canada.

NSA-sanctioned directors have authority to impose penalties, as detailed below, in order to combat instances of disruptive and/or intimidating behavior. They also have authority to discipline other conduct which, in the sole and exclusive discretion of the director, is offensive, unsportsmanlike, or otherwise inconsistent with maintaining a congenial and sociable atmosphere for SCRABBLE® game play, whether or not such behavior violates the letter or spirit of a particular NSA rule (all such behavior is hereafter referred to as "Offensive Behavior"). Offensive Behavior includes, without limitation, cheating, physical or mental abuse or intimidation of another player or tournament worker; verbal or physical acts of disruption while games are in play; loud or obstreperous conduct; and other behavior which, in the discretion of the director, constitutes antisocial conduct or interferes with the flow and proper conduct of the tournament.

NSA directors have always had general authority to resolve disputes and administer appropriate sanctions when dealing with Offensive Behavior. However, the NSA's intent through this policy is to clarify the scope of this authority and provide a degree of uniformity and standardization in the application of authorized sanctions.

A director at any NSA-sanctioned SCRABBLE® tournaments has the following authority with regards to conduct which the director believes constitutes Offensive Behavior:

  1. to invoke a forfeiture of one or more games on the part of a tournament participant whose behavior is deemed by the director or constitutes Offensive Behavior;
  2. to cause any player engaged in Offensive Behavior to be expelled from the tournament at which such behavior occurs, which may include disqualification from participation in additional tournaments scheduled to occur in succession at the same tournament site (as, for example, when a tournament involves "early bird" and/or "late bird" events);
  3. the imposition of other appropriate penalties restricting, suspending or prospectively banning such players from participation in future NSA-sanctioned events:
  4. to make recommendations to the NSA for additional post-event sanctions.

The director may impose one or more of these sanctions, as the director deems appropriate. Imposition of a penalty may or may not be preceded by a warning, at the sole discretion of the director.

Whenever a director believes it appropriate to invoke sanctions in accordance with his authority, the director is to make a good faith effort to investigate the facts and to speak with all persons having knowledge of the circumstances.

The director isn't required to follow a particular format or plan in conducting his or her investigation. The director should try to explain to the player the reasons for imposing sanctions before imposing the sanctions. Anyone wishing to provide information regarding the circumstances of the Offensive Behavior may offer an oral and/or written account of the events within thirty (30) days of the subject tournament. This information may be provided to the director, the NSA Executive Director, or to any NSA Advisory Board member.

When the director submits to the NSA customary paperwork pertaining to the tournament, and in any event no later than 30 (thirty) days following such tournament, the director is to submit a written narrative summarizing the underlying events as witnessed and/or investigated by the director, including all written reports, if any, provided to the director by persons attending the tournament and offering information to the Offensive Behavior.

It is NSA's policy to give the player facing such sanctions an opportunity to be heard and to present his or her version of the facts, orally and/or in writing, before imposing post-tournament sanctions. A player facing post-tournament sanctions shall also be given an opportunity for a telephone hearing before the NSA Advisory Board on terms and conditions directed by the NSA Advisory Board, provided that any player seeking to avail himself or herself of such a hearing participates on condition that the player reimburse NSA for the reasonable costs associated with the hearing in the event of an adverse ruling by the NSA Advisory Board at the conclusion of the hearing.

Following the submission of such information, the NSA may elect, at its discretion, to undertake further actions with the guidance and input of the NSA Advisory Board. Such actions may include, one or more of the following:

  1. the ratification of the director's acts;
  2. the withdrawal of any director-imposed sanction or recommendations, the imposition of which has not yet been completed;
  3. the restoration or partial restoration of privileges to any player who has been sanctioned;
  4. the supplementation of director-imposed sanctions with such additional sanctions or conditions, as NSA, in its discretion, deems appropriate; or
  5. such other action as NSA, in its discretion, deems appropriate and in the best interests of congenial and sociable SCRABBLE® tournament play.

Any director who, in the opinion of the NSA misuses or abuses the powers herein granted may have his/her director's privileges temporarily suspended or permanently revoked.

This policy is effective immediately. By playing in an NSA-sanctioned tournament in the United States or Canada or by applying for membership or renewal of membership in the NSA, whichever event shall first occur, a member acknowledges the terms and conditions of this policy and voluntarily and of his or her free will agrees to be bound by each and every term and condition of this policy.

National SCRABBLE® Association
October 17, 2002


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