NSA Rules for Telecast Events

The following rules were originally formulated for the 2003 ALL*STARS Championship.

Telecast Rules

Players who participate in telecast championships may be asked to sign a release that says that they agree to abide by the following terms and conditions. Players who choose not to sign a release will not be eligible to play.

  1. The winner and runner-up will make himself/herself available for publicity appearances after the event.

  2. The NSA has the right to remove at its discretion, or upon request from the network or sponsors, any player from the tournament at any time for cheating, inappropriate behavior or unsportsmanlike conduct.

  3. There are certain words which cannot be spoken or displayed on television. They are against the law and FCC regulations. The following rule will therefore apply during finals whose games are to be televised in their entirety, but not to the preliminary rounds which determine the finalists: "Either player may ask the Director if a word is considered offensive. The Director will consult with a person qualified to give a second opinion and reply either 'This is an offensive term.' or 'This is not an offensive term.' Game timers will not be stopped for a query."

NSC 2004 Telecast

(This section of this document was added on 2004-07-28, prior to the 2004 NSC.)

Although all NSA players routinely use the OWL (Official Word List) in tournament play, the 2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship will require an adjustment in the best-of-five finals match in Division I.

At ESPN's insistence, there will be certain words that both their programming executives and attorneys will not allow to be shown on television as part of their Standards and Practices guidelines. ESPN's position from the very beginning has been that they would not telecast any SCRABBLE® tournament if the NSA demanded that a handful of words deemed offensive by some had to be allowable. The network - and sponsor Hasbro as well - simply did not want to be put in a position where children and others would see these words on a SCRABBLE® board on television. Additionally, they did not want to create a potential scenario where a critical or even winning play might hinge on an ethnic or racial slur or other common "offensive" term being played. ESPN also felt to digitally alter or block out some words was unsatisfactory, as viewers could not get a sense of the real game as it had been played.

The NSA convinced ESPN to allow all words in the preliminary rounds as they could "shoot around" those plays and players' ability to get to the finals would not be compromised.

As with last year's SCRABBLE® ALL-STARS telecast, both finalists will be given a list of the words with which ESPN is not comfortable. In addition, both players have the right to review a potential play with the Director without penalty or exposing his/her rack to the opponent.

While the NSA does not approve of what might be considered censorship, it was clear there was no alternative whatsoever in this situation. The NSA appreciates that its membership understands that this is a small and necessary compromise in order to have our event telecast on ESPN, potentially reaching millions of people who would otherwise never be exposed to SCRABBLE® tournament play.

HASBRO is the owner of the registered SCRABBLE® trademark in the United States and Canada. © 2011 HASBRO. All rights reserved. "SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game" is the proper way to refer to this unique group of word games and related properties marketed by HASBRO. "SCRABBLE®" is not a generic term. To use it as such is not only misleading but also does injustice to the company responsible for the trademark's longtime popularity. All we ask is that when you mean SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game, you say so. 

The SCRABBLE® trademark is owned by J.W. Spear and Sons, PLC, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. outside of the United States and Canada. 

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