TD participating in their own event

Inspired by the IFPA president’s sense of humor, I would like to bring up the question of a Tournament Director participating in their own tournament. I love playing and competing more than anything else in pinball, so I have competed in every tournament I have ever organized. So far nobody has questioned this.

Is there anyone who would oppose such a choice? If so, why? I think there is a good argument that the TD should recuse themselves from making rulings that directly impact themselves, but other than that, I can’t see any reasons.

Does the level of the tournament factor in?

Also, thanks to Greg for creating this forum. I was never a forum guy until I found this place!

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I am hosting a tourney 4/18 at my home and am thinking about playing as a points void so as to still be able to play for the money, but not gain IFPA points on my home machines. I will be focusing mostly on TDing and being master of the BBQ.

I say it does. I’ve directed the New England Championships and CA Extreme several times each, and have been a willing participant. For each, we do find a non-competing player who makes rulings in cases where there would be a conflict of interest, and then we put a non-qualified player in charge of rulings in the final rounds. Even so, I still think there’s an impression of unfairness when the people behind the counter taking money and making rulings are the ones at the podium. And that impression can make the difference between someone new choosing to join in or rejecting it as unfair.

When the stakes get high, such as at PAPA or Pinburgh, it can look much worse than it can at CA Extreme or even Pinball Expo. Doug Polka is tournament director for Pinburgh, and imagine some news company interviewing him about the event on the first day … then comes back to interview the $15,000 winner at the end and find they just have to interview him again! It would not look good at all. I also find that when an event grows to a substantial size, the TDs should be so busy working that they should not be able to play.

The public perception is the biggest reason. There’s a second reason which I reject a little, which is the potential for a TD to be perceived as making biased rulings. I haven’t found anyone directing an event where I remotely thought this could or did happen. Again, it’s perception: a ruling doesn’t go your way, and you wonder about why it happened – guess what, it happened because that was the rule :wink:

Rules are getting less flexible, which I think is good: it used to be that when something went wrong and a ruling was needed, there would be a debate instead of a ruling. The ways those debates sometimes resolved could leave the same taste: what is the TD’s ulterior motive for their decision? There isn’t one, but the perception can stick.

And definitely agree with your other note: thanks to Greg for setting this place up. It’s fun!

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Who is this phantom PAPA/ Pinburgh interviewer you keep referring to? Only interviews I ever see is pre tourney stuff.

It’s partially hypothetical (‘what if ESPN8 were here’), but did happen with Mark from Classic Game Room in 2011? 2012? Whatever year it was, he interviewed the TD during the early rounds and the champion at the end.

I would say the media aspect of it is not an issue at all (from personal experience).

With the PR outreach leading up to both the SCS and IFPA WC I’ve had countless interviews of running, organizing and participating in the event and never once did the person interviewing bring it up as an issue. There was a golf analogy maybe on rgp2 about jack Nicklaus (or was it Nicholson) designing the course for the memorial, playing in it and winning it.

Working with the production company at Expo and being the organizer of the event, a player in the event and having a brother that won he event … Not one comment from them about the obvious potential conflicts of interest.

I think the perception from players is a real one, although it’s still not something I’m too worried about. Good / bad tournaments are still built on the reputation of the organizers running it regardless if they are playing or not.

I play on my own house tournaments because I want to play and I’m going through the effort to host everyone. Yeah, I did win twice and everyone joked me about it, but also came in almost dead last other times.

But at larger tournaments, like Fairfax Pinball Open and MAGfest, I never considered playing because too much was at stake making sure everything ran okay, knowing I’d have to deal with issues, problems and rulings.

If you do play in your own tournaments, the key thing to remember, as Bowen mentioned is to have someone else make rulings that you are involved in so you do not have a conflict of interest.

The “should the TD play” debate comes up every so often, but I have always thought that tournaments look more legit if the people running them do not play in them.

Also if the people who set up the games are also playing in the competition, that could give them an advantage. Particularly in a format like match play or knockout where players do not necessarily have the opportunity to play the game over and over to get comfortable on it.

That’s a valid point. At tournaments at my house I started posting details about game setups to lessen that effect. I used to also re-level and clean the games, then not practice and the games always play different. But that’s about all you can do.

Can you do that? I was under the impression you couldn’t elect to not receive WPPRs ad-hoc like that. You’re either suppressed or you’re not.