Last night was week 2 of our Fall league I started 4 seasons ago, so I’m still learning as a director. I had a couple weird situations come up and I wanted to see how I should have handled it. It was a hell of a night.
We are a very casual league with 19 players on 4 machines (TZ, TWD, ACDC & Avatar).
I had a player show up early and say “I can’t play tonight because my wife got called to work and I have to watch our son”, but I have about 30 minutes, can I pre-play? I said, absolutely, here’s a preplay sheet, go to town.
He played his 4 games, turned in his sheet and left. My group started on TZ and towards the end of my 3rd ball, the power field diverter got stuck and wouldn’t drop the ball. It finally dropped during the 3rd ball search. I happened one other time and we pulled the glass and dropped it in the players shooter lane.
Fast forward to group 2. Towards the end of the groups 2nd ball, it was becoming more frequent. I pulled the glass 4 times before deciding that we would have them finish their game with the glass off and either myself or the other guy that helps would be the manual diverter so they could finish. Perhaps I should have killed the game there, but I thought it would be an easy way to get them through. We have 5 groups and only 4 machines so I don’t want people standing around too long.
Anyway, we killed the game at the end of group 2 and I decided to have the other 3 groups double up on a game so everyone would have played 4. Here is the issue though, the group with the guy that preplayed hadn’t played TZ yet, so how should I have handled his score? The rest of his group was going to have to play one game twice, but he only played each game once.
I also had a group that decided to start their game before the previous group had written down their scores. It was a crazy night.
First, since this is a casual league, consider your level of TD discretion to be “more than usual.” The more an event is for fun rather than money or trophies, the more it’s okay to be flexible in the interests of keeping everyone happy to encourage continued participation.
For the person who pre-played, I see two obvious choices: the first would be to give them a zero on the doubled-up game. Pre-playing is a granted privilege, but not a guarantee of no consequences. Most events do not allow it, while in other situations it’s clearly in the interest of the league to permit it. Here, absence had a cost. Your other “simple” alternative, should you choose to exercise it, would be to allow the person to post-play the missing game. Ideally this would be done without them knowing what the other people scored, but that’s not a requirement.
Whatever you decide, you should now put in place a guideline as to what will happen if the situation arises again in the future, so that everyone knows what to expect and there won’t be further issues, at least of this type.
I assume after the start-before-scores-recorded incident that you made a point to everyone, not just in the group that did it but all the others, too, that everyone should wait to make sure scores are in before hitting Start.
I fully understand your reluctance to pull the game at first; when you have few to work with, you need to be more tolerant of glitches than when backup games are plentiful. Sounds like you make a decent call there by trying to continue at first and then giving up on it when you did.
Hey, if machines didn’t have hiccups, the rules would be MUCH shorter!
Seconding what BMU says about making sure that whatever you decide, you write it into the rules for the future, so you can be consistent from now on. Me, I would probably have as a rule: “pre-play at your own risk.” Meaning that if a game goes down, you take a zero if you pre-played. Pre-playing is, as BMU says, a privilege, and people are lucky to have that flexibility at all, so I think it is OK to ask people to accept some risk with it.
Hit up the FSPA website for contact info and get in touch with them. They are the biggest league that I know of that does pre-playing and they’ve been around forever so they have those rules down really well. You also may want to contact Kevin Stone (contact info at his Pinholics website). He keeps reams of wonderfully organized charts on almost every situation for TDs. He would probably share them with you.
In FSPA league rules, that player would simply take a forfeit for the game. (In the interest of acknowledging that the player made a valiant effort to participate in the session, I’d be willing to label this as a non-countable forfeit; i.e. the forfeit doesn’t count toward the maximum forfeit limit that would cause a player to be forfeited out of the entire season.)
Our preplay rules explicitly support multiple preplay sets for exactly this sort of situation; here’s the relevant language:
Any submitted preplay scores may include from 1 to 4 complete plays of all machines at the location. Should a player wish to submit multiple scores, they must record scores for all available machines before preplaying any machine for the second time. Players are advised to submit multiple scores as part of a preplay if the location’s machine selection makes it likely that machines will be played more than once on league night (e.g. if fewer than 4 machines are available and working).
If you want to be a kinder and gentler league official, you could go ahead and grant him a post-play… the slippery slope there is that any player who does preplays and is missing a game score(s) [degenerative case: missing all the games!] might ask for the same post-play consideration, and they’d have a valid argument: you let the other guy do it, why not me? What is it about this case that warrants special treatment… that groups had to unexpectedly play a machine twice? If so, are you intending to give the same post-play consideration any time that situation arises? If so, that’s OK, but codify it and put a strict deadline on when the post-play must be submitted to you else it converts to a forfeit.
Personally, I’d just give him the non-countable forfeit and move on. It’s an unfortunate thing when the guy was clearly trying to do his best to participate, but once you start making concessions for “special circumstances”, it’s amazing how many “special circumstances” start popping up…
This is one of the potential consequences of Pre-Playing… you don’t get to play in the same conditions the live competition does. That can pan out in the form of ‘hey, a game was down when I pre-played and I couldn’t play it’ or ‘hey, a new game was brought in that I didn’t get to preplay’ or ‘hey, they fixed that feature that wasn’t working when I preplayed’. And many other oddities
The FSPA mentality has been to always bias towards live competition… while trying to be flexible to accommodate the reality of gathering people at locations we don’t control, over many weeks The more casual the location, the more give people tend to have… but you also want to maintain a level of fairness.