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By: BlastodermMan, Carl E Wilt
May 27 2015 12:00pm
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In the United States, it's Memorial Day as I write this. I have seen, literally, hundreds of posts and memes about respecting the sacrifice made by members of the armed forces throughout the years. As a veteran, and as someone who has a significant number of veteran and active duty friends in both real life and online, I can appreciate the sacrifices that have been made by generations of military personnel. And while I don't necessarily subscribe to the level of hero worship that is given to current and former military members in today's society, I do have high levels of respect for those that lost their lives protecting the interests of our country.

Respect is something I don't always think about and consider. Aside from the obvious holiday tie in, there was something else that got me thinking about it today. As I have mentioned previously, I'm a sports fan, and I grew up following the Cleveland teams. In my lifetime, I have never seen a championship from any of the teams in the major sports. Sure, the Browns have gotten as far as a few AFC Championship games, and both the Cavs and the Indians have made it to the finals of the NBA Championship and World Series, respectively, in the last 15-20 years, but there have been no rings. But, as we get further into the playoffs, I become more and more invested, and I make sure I keep up on all the articles and comments on the sports pages. One, in particular, caught my eye today. It was an opinion piece written by Bruce Hooley that made the point that the rules don't apply to NBA stars, and it went on to mention the difference in respect shown to stars versus other players, specifically in this case Matthew Dellavedova, AKA Delly, for short.

Due Respect

There is a sense of entitlement among a lot of the stars in the game. That entitlement extends not only from the stars, and their coaches, but also to the officials, and even the announcers and broadcasters covering the game. Back in the day, every team has a couple guys like Delly. Small guys, by NBA standards, who are less strong, less talented and less athletic than many, if not most, of their peers, but make a name for themselves and carve out their niche in the league by all out effort and hustle. Some would even call them reckless on the court. These underdogs are deserving of the same respect as the other players, if not more so given the odds they've overcome to get to that point in their careers. Sadly, they are rarely given their due. Calls go against them during play. Announcers feel they can call these guys out for their hardnosed play while simultaneously praising the more talented stars for "gamesmanship" for the exact same things. As I read that article, I couldn't help but thing how unfair it all was to Delly and guys like him. I was mentally up in arms about the unjustness of it. In the end, aren't all these athletes brothers-in-arms? How could there be so much disrespect within the ranks?

And then I caught myself. I evaluated myself, and thought of others. I realized this isn't just a professional athlete problem. As I considered everything, I understood that many times, I have been just as big a jerk as these guys I was so quick to judge and condemn. While I do my best to be an ambassador for Magic, I know there are times I have failed, and there are things that I still struggle with internally even if I don't express it outwardly. I have witnessed the behavior in others as well. In the end, all we are hurting is our own community...our own store...our own game. It is not unusual for regulars at a store, or even folks who have been playing for a while, or who may have had some level of success, to have their own sense of entitlement, their own belief that they are better, or higher in the pecking order, that other, newer, less accomplished, players.  What follows are some of the most common instances I have seen, or even done. Although I am not proud of any of these things, I bring them up as an example that none of us are perfect, myself included, and to really effect positive change on the community, we must all hold ourselves to higher standards and recognize our shortcomings.

How many times have you played the new kid at FNM? Or the "bad player" that shows up occasionally? Or even someone you simply consider a lesser player than yourself? How did the match play out? Let's say that even when variance is considered, you still beat that player 95-97% of the time. But how did you play? Were you respectful to your opponent in these matches, or did you play more attention to the match at the table next to you? Did you just jam through the game, rushing them through their turn so you could kill as quickly as possible and get it over with? Did you take the time to even converse with your opponent, chat with them a little and attempt to try to get to know them at all? All of these are signs of respect that you should show every opponent, especially at something like FNM. Regardless of the skill set of the guy you are playing, you owe it to them to actually be "in" the match, to pay attention to what is going on.

Once the match ends, try to talk Magic and decks with the other player. What were they trying to do with their deck? Can you offer to look at it and offer suggestions or ways they can make it better and why? If you did look at their deck, did you offer anything constructive to the conversation? Saying, "That card sucks," with no reasoning as to why a card may be substandard or no offer of a replacement or better option, isn't really helpful. I always tell players, especially those that are actively pursuing getting better, that they won't get better without playing against better players. It is in their best interest to improve the play skill and deck building across the board in the community if they really seek to improve themselves. We all started somewhere, and honestly, none of us started our tournament lives with Tier 1 net decks that we played perfectly. Over time, we either learned deck building skills via articles and interaction online, or someone, or a group of people, was nice enough to take you under their wing and teach you. Pay that forward. 

One trap I have been susceptible to over the years is the, "Who the f*** plays that?" issue. As I've mentioned before, I usually try to build decks that target specific metagames. There are people who play Tier 1 decks, and have the top 10-12 decks of any format memorized and know how to play against them. Sometimes, you play against that guy who is playing something that is generally considered bad. And you don't have an answer to it, or don't know how to attack it, and you end up losing. Rather than give credit where credit is due, it's so easy to get upset. "Who play's that? That deck is horrible. Sure, it beat me, but it just rolls over and loses to the top six decks in the format. What a scrub deck." It's a tilt. It is also absolutely disrespectful to your opponent, who built the deck and played it well. You weren't prepared? Too bad. I've learned to at least subdue these thoughts and not express them, but that doesn't mean there aren't times that they creep into my mind. Afterwards, I usually feel like a jerk for even thinking that way.  At a recent Standard paper PPTQ I played in, my first round opponent was playing the Darksteel Citadel/Ensoul Artifact deck. It was a deck I hadn't actually seen since the first couple months after the release of M15, and to say it was unexpected would be an understatement. He got me game one, I got there game 2, but in game three, I was simply crushed. While I was able to handle the first Ensoul, the subsequent second and third ones went unanswered. No, I wasn't thrilled to have lost. I congratulated my opponent, composed myself for a minute, and when I talked about it, I was sure to point out that I was beat, he got me, and I had no answers. A decade ago, I probably would have complained about my luck and playing against a horrible deck. 

Ensoul Artifact

These interactions aren't simply limited to paper Magic, though. In some ways, people are a bit better behaved in person as opposed to the anonymity provided by the computer screen. I'm always surprised at the amount of vitriol I see, even in the Tournament Practice Room. While I will admit it is better now than it was even a few years ago, I'm not sure that my experience is unique. When you are just typing into a chat box on the computer, it can be easy to dehumanize the entire experience, and it's obvious some people do. One quick look at the Twitter account @SaltyLosers is all you need to see a steady stream of poor, boorish behavior. 

I openly admit that there I times I get frustrated with MTGO, but those times generally have nothing to do with my opponent. Most of my frustration is when I play a 24-26 land deck, and am forced to mulligan to 4 regularly to see any lands in my opener. That is obviously not the fault of my opponent, nor really a fault of my own. Sure, if I was "cheating" lands and running something ungodly like 16 in my constructed deck, I get what I deserve. I think the only time I get frustrated with my opponents online is when they are playing slowly. I like to crank through games when I test. When it's obvious my opponent is double queuing or just playing really, really slowly, I get frustrated. I may message my opponent to get his attention if I need to, but even then, I rarely say more than, "You there?"  I've been known to simply concede a game/match when I've waited for 5 minutes of my opponents clock for them to hit "OK" on my fetch land search. In the end, while these things are frustrating, it seems more advisable to simply move on to the next match than to dwell on the current one. And it's not like berating some random person in chat is going to actually make me feel better. 

I'm not saying you have to like everyone and be bosom buddies with them. Hell, I don't like everyone, and I would be dishonest if I said otherwise. Regardless of my likes or dislikes, every player deserves respect. It's up to us to build our communities. It is up to us to help grow the game and do our part to keep it viable. The choice lies with each of us. Do we build and grow, or destroy and shrink? 

Peace, Carl Wilt



Absolutely spot on by rayjinn at Wed, 05/27/2015 - 13:02
rayjinn's picture

This needed to be said and i'm glad you did.

good luck by mindlesslemming at Wed, 05/27/2015 - 16:22
mindlesslemming's picture

thanks for tryin!

i wish there was something we could do, but this is not an MTGO problem... its a human greed and selfishness problem.

mtgo users can't even use personal morals or logic to find the difference between "just for fun", "getting serious" and "tournament practice".




I've been thinking and by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 05/28/2015 - 17:30
Joe Fiorini's picture

I've been thinking and writing about this subject a lot recently. I agree with you totally. I've noticed that I don't really tilt when playing my buddies, but randos seem to set me off more. What I've done, is try to start a short conversation, and that helps put things at ease, on my side at least.

I'm the type of person that would rather like everyone instead of disliking people. So, I've tried to be the same way in-game as I am in real life.

So far, it's working out. Keep up the good work and positive attitude, it's contagious!