Bad Hygiene: How to approach

So we have a local player who typically goes to at least one tournament a week and very often more. The problem is at almost every tournament they participate in they stink. Think sour milk mixed with cat urine. It’s not every time but definitely the majority of the time.
It has gotten to the point that some players have stopped going to tournaments. A few of the local TDs have made generalized fb posts telling everyone to shower and wear deodorant when they come to the tournament but the problem has persisted.
So my question is how would you approach this without embarrassing the person (although most everyone knows exactly who this stinky person is). I am not friends with this person but I would classify them as a pinball acquaintance. Someone you have friendly conversations with about pinball but not someone I interact with beyond that. I believe most if not all of the regular tournament players fall into this category with them.
Should the TD be addressing this? Can we email the ifpa and have them email this person? Do we put a note on their windshield? What would you say? I don’t feel comfortable with myself bringing this up to them, so what options exist? How would you handle this?

If old person, remind gently:

Unfortunately not an older person

Then do a general email to the group saying that even though COVID is over just a reminder that all players should please be mindful of general health and hygiene. They are playing in a public place and need to be respectful of others and that includes watching one’s body odor, one’s breath and sweat. Explain politely there have been complaints of bad hygiene and people are not going to come and play if it continues meaning a worse time for pinball overall for everyone. Something like first offense is a warning, second they can’t play until they get clean.

If the person doesn’t respond have the TD approach the person and ask if they can help the person out because there have been hygiene complaints and if it is a medical condition what can the TD do to help?

Not sure I can think of anything more tactful than that. If it continues threaten a ban from playing until the person literally cleans up their act.

Not knowing the IFPA - is there a procedure for this under environment being safe and comfortable for all players or something like that you can use politely in the approach?

Pinball should be a fun, safe and healthy time for people. They want a stinky experience they can walk in most major downtown cities.


Your situation is not unique. I attended an event recently with a “stinker” present, and at least one other earlier this year. Maybe an addition to the player’s etiquette sentence would be good.

Years ago when I frequently attended science fiction conventions, I ran into stinkers often enough that I put a sentence or two about it in my “How To Con” guide’s etiquette section.


The kindest thing you can do is have one of their friends mention it. It’s possible they don’t know, have a medical condition, or no safe space to clean themselves & their clothing.

Consider ignoring it. Stand far enough away that you can’t smell it. If the person approaches you, walk away. If they follow, be honest and say the odor bothers you.

Have the TD send an email to that person.
‘There have been multiple complaints about your smell. If those complaints continue I will be asking you to stop attending events.’

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This shouldn’t even be a topic for discussion. Life happens. All sorts of people smell for all sorts of reasons and at the end of the day you can’t make everyone happy. Every pinball event I’ve ever attended had players that stink.

Some people have bad hygiene, oh well. Some people have medical conditions. Some people have religious beliefs that prevent them from using deodorants or perfumes/cologne.

There are people who smoke cigarettes and the odor lingers and it can be worse than BO for some people to smell. There are others that smoke nasty marijuana and that odor lingers just as long and smells gross too.

As the previous poster mentioned, you can easily avoid the situation by walking away to a different area of the room.

Focus on playing pinball and stop worrying about how people look or smell. It’s just pinball. Flip on!


Assuming it’s usually the same TD, I would suggest a small intervention (2-3 friends plus TD). TD should start discussion. ‘Dude (or Dudette), you stink and
and people are stopping coming to events because of it. Please get cleaned up or you’re not welcome any more.’

After an event would be the best time to do it. Don’t want to blindside them before the event starts. Waiting until after the event shows they’re still welcome, but they’re wearing out that welcome. Emails and FB posts are impersonal and likely wouldn’t be taken as well. Tell them to their face as nicely as possible.

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Unfortunately you cannot 'easily avoid the situation". The arcade is not huge by any means and the smell is so intense, this person could be on the other side of the room and you’d still smell it. Even after the tournament is over and they’ve left there is still a lingering smell for a good half hour. This isn’t a case of them having a little b.o. I’ve been to enough shows and tournaments to understand there will always be someone with b.o but it’s typically the kind where you need to be within 5 feet or less to smell them. This is so far beyond that. It’s a vile, nauseating odor that affects the entire arcade.


I’m having a flashback to IFPA ‘94 when some jokesters left a stick of deodorant outside the French players’ hotel room for them

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It’s amazing how aromas can affect others – some people are bothered by natural body odors, while others are bothered by the aromas of tobacco, or weed, or booze, or colognes/perfumes, etc. I’ve encountered people who were more bothered by heavy use of (supposedly nice) perfumes vs heavy natural body odor.

IMHO, this is wildly subjective. If you are hosting an event at a private location and have personal preferences about aromas, try your best to publicize your preferences as clearly as possible in the event invite. Otherwise, be tolerant that people smell the way they smell, and give them wide berths if they don’t match your preference. In a pinch, wear an N95 mask to help filter external air – which is a good idea anyway during public events.


Taking the high road is all well and good except more people will continue to drop out rather than keep coming because it only is pinball (especially if the venue is tightly packed).
Because everybody is different the best smell in any large event is NO smell. It is an ideal to shoot for and may not be attainable.
This is a specific case that the OP is asking help for so hopefully there have been enough suggestions to help resolve the situation as best as one can taking a person’s feelings into account.

Good luck!


If I owned a bar (or other business where folks tend to hang out for a while) and someone smelled as bad as @tmontana is describing, I would talk to them. It’s not just pinball. It’s the olfactory equivalent of a dress code.


So after I posted this I talked with the operator and TD of one of the locations. He told me that he and other TD’s in the area have been mulling over this problem. Turns out there is about 4-5 regulars that have varying degrees of an odor problem. He and I then worked on creating a FB post to approach this with appropriate sensitivity. After posting this the operator told me that one of the “offenders” reached out to him asking if he was one of the people that had an odor. He then explained the cause of his odor and how he had become nose blind to it. He thanked the operator for bringing this to his attention and they then discussed ways to address it. So for at least 1 person the post worked.


Btw, here is the post we crafted (with some help from chatgpt lol)

Dear Pinball Enthusiasts,

I hope this message finds you well and in good spirits. As stated yesterday, we truly appreciate your passion for pinball and your commitment to participating in our tournaments. For the past several months, we have received feedback from players regarding the environment at our events, specifically related to personal hygiene.

Maintaining a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere for all participants is crucial to the success of our (and surrounding area) tournaments. We understand that everyone has different preferences and considerations when it comes to personal care, and we want to address this matter with the utmost respect and sensitivity.

In order to ensure that our events remain welcoming to all players, we kindly request everyone to be mindful of their personal hygiene before attending our tournaments. A pleasant environment contributes significantly to the overall experience, and we believe that together, we can create an atmosphere that encourages all enthusiasts to participate and enjoy the game.

We recognize that discussions around personal habits can be sensitive and our intentions is solely to foster a positive and inclusive community. Your cooperation in this matter is highly appreciated and we look forward to continued our shared love for pinball in a comfortable setting for everyone.

If you have any concerns or suggestions regarding this issue, please feel free to reach out (via a DM, text, constructive face-to-face conversation, etc). Your input is valuable and we are committed to making our tournaments a place where ALL players feel comfortable and respected.

A few suggestions for our upcoming tournament would be to please shower before coming to the tournament, use an extra swipe or two of deodorant, possibly use an extra splash of perfume/cologne, and to please dress in clean clothes. An extra measure would be to also wash your winter jackets and/or your favorite hat that has collected order from wearing it, etc. (just to name a few things).

Thank you in advance for your understanding and for your cooperation.

BTW as someone with perfume sensitivities, this message would encourage me to never attend this venue.


Good to mention the clothing. I’ve had friends who don’t realize they actually need to wash their jackets more than once a year.

I’m also negative on recommending the perfume. It isn’t better to smell like BO and Axe Body Spray. But who knows, maybe it’ll do something.


Yes, please update the letter to remove perfume/cologne that affects sensitivities.

Also, If f you use AI CHAT bot, you need to proofread your work. Don’t be lazy like the kids on South Park when they use AI. “Your favorite hat that has collected order”? You mean “odor”? :slight_smile:
Happy New Year everyone!

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I agree with others that wearing scents does not help with body odor. At best, a huge enough amount might mask it, but at the expense of being nauseating in its own way. Since a lot of people react negatively to perfumes, it’s pretty common for events connected with my work to ban wearing them.


You missed “our intentions is”

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