Toxic Behavior Continues in 2019

And I have no doubt it was Ground Control covering their ass. It’s a fantastic event on the whole and I might be there this year.

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Sounds like my kind of place. But I work in ERs, so… yeah. Good times.

BTW, I see NOTHING in the code of conduct prohibiting defecation in a pinball tournament parking lot.

You’ve been warned.


This is the big takeaway for me from this tangent, and bringing it back around, it also applies to player behavior. Event organizers will do better when it comes to projecting the kind of environment they want for their events, but I also think some of the onus is on the player to understand the environment as well.

That’s not going to be perfect, and there will be times a player finds themselves in an uncomfortable situation, and we deal with that and move on. Like if I sign up for an event in a bar I’ve never been to, I cannot expect a super-serious sterile environment. And I also know I’ll probably never travel to an event in the Pacific Northwest, because that sort of environment isn’t my thing.

When TDs are up front about the environments they want to foster and behaviors they will or won’t tolerate, that makes it easier for me as a player to decide if an event is going to be good for me.


That may be the point of your league, but it is assuming that every ‘shitty player’ wants to become a better player.
People play pinball for lots of different reasons, not everyone is competitive enough to care about getting better


I suppose that’s fine too. I can think of at least two people who have been playing for years and didn’t much improve in that time. No one gets kicked out of the league for underperforming and some teams are more competition oriented than others.

We’re getting very off topic at this point, but just to clarify. There is no on-site consumption of marijuana allowed at Ground Kontrol, including in the parking lot. In response to a year where that rule was laxly adhered to at best, the business owners requested that we be very clear about their expectations and the law when communicating with competitors. Feel free to live your lives outside of Ground Kontrol’s premises, and also, just be cool.

Your Pinbrawl TD

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20 posts were split to a new topic: When is in-game coaching legal?

Can we get this coaching topic into a different thread?

Done! I think I moved as many of the coaching-related posts as made sense to, so please continue chatting about coaching in that topic, and how to discourage bad conduct here.


Code :clap: of :clap: Conduct :clap:


This comment struck a chord with me, because of the emphasis on being proactive. At least here in Australia, I see more and more pubs and nightclub venues that prominently display signs about sexual harassment. (Often on the front door, and often in the bathrooms where (at least men) cannot help but see them.) The typically say something like “We do not tolerate any kind of gender, racist, or other forms of discrimination. If you feel harassed in any way, please talk to a staff member immediately, and we will take steps to help resolve the situation.”

I see no reason why TD’s can’t do the same thing at the start of a tournament. If the rules are clear, it’s my choice to comply or, if I don’t like them, not to participate.

One caveat: there is a danger that some TDs might be tempted to abuse their position of power to impose standards that go beyond what most people deem acceptable. (“Right, I’m a TD now. I have the power! Finally, people will do what I bloody well tell them to do.”) There is obviously a point where a line can be crossed in the opposite direction. But, in general, I don’t think that’s likely to be an issue.

IMHO: the challenge is that we’re now asking TD’s (or pub owners, in your description) to administer societal behaviors that should be de facto standards… and even worse, some people blame the TD’s if they didn’t explicitly address every possible infraction.

So for example, some people want pinball TD’s to give a speech at the start of their events decrying behaviors that aren’t considered acceptable at the tournament. If I’m the TD, how far do I have to take this? For many people, it’s simply assumed that “gender, racist, or other forms of discrimination” are unacceptable, that goes without saying… but that’s not necessarily true for everyone. What about religion? Most people would never consider degrading their opponent because they were wearing a cross, or a yarmulke, or a hijab… but that’s not necessarily true for everyone. Heck, most people would never consider punching their opponent in the face if they lost… but that’s not necessarily true for everyone. So as a TD, am I required to give a two hour speech detailing every possible behavior I can think of that’s unacceptable at my event? If not, where do I draw the line? Personally, I’d prefer to say “Hey, we’re playing pinball, everyone smile and have fun and treat everyone around you with love”, but some people would consider that insufficient.

Yes. I’m worried about that aspect too. There is a fine line between pinball tournaments maintaining appropriate standards, and pinball tournaments forcing the TD’s belief system onto participants.

I hear you, and I acknowledge the issue. On the other hand, I’ve seen a TD simply say: “Guys, we are a gender-neutral, ethnicity-neutral, and generally harassment-free venue here. Keep that in mind. If I find you harassing people, I will remove you from the tournament without warning, and will be happy to explain to you afterwards why I did it.”

So far, that’s worked every time.

To be honest, as much as I despise sexual or ethnic harassment at tournaments, in my experience, this rarely is a problem. What is a problem (at least in Australia) are competitors who drink so much that they are barely able to stand upright any longer.

To me, that is far more frequent than harassment, and equally detestable. The yelling, the uncontrolled outbursts, the swearing and incoherent remarks, and all the generally negative things that go along with someone being drunk.

In this forum, there has been much emphasis on lambasting sexual harassment, swearing, kicking chairs, machine abuse, and so on. But, interestingly, here as much as in Australia, I nary hear a word spoken about people being drunk.

I’m not suggesting that pinball tournaments should be alcohol-free. (I don’t think that they need to be.) At the same time, I’m bemused by society’s tolerance for alcohol abuse when everyone seems to be ready to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to sexism, racism, religious discrimination, abuse of drugs other than alcohol, etc.

Double standards?


Because the bad behavior gets addressed not things that contribute to making bad behavior more likely.
If you vomit and pass out on the machine it’s not the drunkenness I care about, it’s the vomiting and passing out on the machine.


Interesting observation :expressionless:

I’m not so worried about vomiting and passing out on the machine; that’s something I’ve never seen happen. What I am worried about is all the things that are said (shouted) and done before the vomiting and passing out actually happen…

We (the pinball community) need to be proactive in alerting players and/or TD’s about bad behavior as it occurs in an event. It should be done respectfully (take the player to the side etc…) . This rehabilitation process may influence this persons behavior outside of our community and into their personal life. This is a win for everyone.

For an intro speech regarding conduct, last Saturday I actually forgot to mention it. In general I now say something like “Before we begin I ask that you are respectful to each other and to the machines, now lets start!”


Yesterday I was playing in a tournament on the accursed Star Wars, wherein I had an awful game with almost no flips, and ended up taking last in a four player group by 500K points. After the bonus counted up, I screamed and obscenity and stomped off to cool down before the next round began.

Later in the day, a woman in my group, a newer player who had only been involved in the tournament scene for about a year, pulled me aside and told me that was the most unsportsmanlike thing she had seen since she started playing, and she wanted me to know that she thought it was awful. And you know what? She was right. I mean, Ive certainly seen more unsportsmanlike things, but it was awful, and I was really glad she called me out for it. I thanked her and apologized and I think we left things on good terms, and it left me with a really important reminded that this is only pinball, and the last thing I want to do is leave a new player with a shitty impression of our community.

I would love to see more incidents handled this way. If you have a problem with someone’s behavior, just talk to them. I realize it is hard, and depending on the personalities involved I know that in many cases its not as easy as it was in this one. However we are also all (mostly) adults, and much of the day to day stuff we’re talking about in this thread could be handled pretty well in this way. Not all of them, if someone is being harassed or targeted personally then the situation is way different, but most of the stuff we’re talking about here is not that type of problem.


I’m glad things worked out for you but I don’t think you did anything unsportsmanlike. Maybe if you were directing the obscenity towards the other players but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case.


Y’all keep missing the point here, which is that there is no objective definition of many of these things. So you argue about whether this particular example or that particular example meets your definition. I think gdd’s example was great in two different ways. One, I think it’s great when people do call each other out on this. But way more importantly- I think it’s great when people stop and actually listen to what the other person is saying. Notice that gdd didn’t jump into a definition of what sportsmanlike is or whatever. He apologized, tried to learn from it, and moved on. Because it actually did not matter what his own definition was. He assumed this other person had their own definition for their own reasons, it sounds like.

That’s the entire point. TDs can help facilitate those moments, and we can step in when they don’t happen, but everything should point in that direction.


Or in retrospective he simply agreed his behavior was uncalled for and inappropriate.

Big difference between that… and blindly accepting anyone else’s boundaries or definitions. Because we know that leads to extremes trying to move the center.