Sportsmanship, and Addressing "Salt" at the Local Game Store
For any of you out there who are fans of major league sports, I want to start this off by talking a bit about certain game practices. Maybe a game goes well, maybe it was a disaster. Regardless of the outcome, each game shares the same post-game practice; Line up and shake hands. Sportsmanship shows honor among all players, whether you win or lose, and maintains the ethical integrity of competition. We can see these practices in major sports, but they apply to all games, and realms of competitive play.
However, despite such things, we have all been to our LGS (local game store), and seen those few people that just simply haven’t gotten the memo. You’re going to find sore losers, and you’re going to find poor winners. Dealing with those “salty” players can be exhausting, and it will take away from your gaming experience.
For the average person, gaming isn’t about being world famous, it’s about having fun, and escaping the normal stresses of daily life. Personally, I have absolute zero tolerance for salt, and I’m going to discuss how I personally handle salty players at my LGS.
1. Acknowledge your own level of salt
As I said before, I have absolute zero patience for poor sportsmanship in a game. With that being said, if you Roast my Burnished Hart before I can crack it, I’m going to feel some salt in my blood stream. (Yes, there's an inside joke here, but i'll save that for another time). Getting hit by a strong play that heavily hinders you is a total bummer, and it's normal to feel bummed out by it. Trust me, when you counter someone’s commander, they’re not exactly jumping for joy.
Those feelings are totally normal, but what matters is how you display them. The biggest thing you need to remember is, at the end of the day, it’s a game. Be an adult. If you let something like this overcome your emotions, performing well in a game should be the last of your worries. It’s amazing how much relief you get by just simply saying out loud, “Man, I am so salty right now,” and laughing about it among the other players. Actions like that will create a positive, humorous and humble image for you, and will make it easier to interact with other players. It’s hard to succeed if you are not humble.
2. Speaking to sore losers
If you are mindful of how you’re behaving, then addressing sore losers will become easier, and more effective. Although I do believe in the above regarding how to handle ourselves, addressing others is more of an “in my opinion” circumstance. Personally, I have only ever seen success with humiliating a salty player. However, I am not saying be harsh, or rude. The trick here is, you need to be relaxed, light and humorous toned, and say something that isn’t directly attacking that person. Some of my favorite for things like this are “Aw man, do you need to go the hospital? This game loss really sounds serious,” or the more blunt, “You want fries with that salt, Princess? Come on now, it’s just a game.” The trick here is, everybody needs to laugh, and that player needs to clue in to the fact that their actions are childish.
Most importantly, after throwing that sting, immediately invite them to play another game. You made your point, and everybody clearly received it. Don’t let that player linger on that sting, and they will most likely not give you an opportunity to throw another punch.
Rarely has this not worked for me, but for that rare occasion, that’s when becoming very chill and light toned is incredibly important. Stay in charge, and let say to that person that their salty behavior is uncomfortable for all people around them. Say your peace, and then invite them to another game. Be the stronger party.
3. Handling poor winners
Personally, I find poor winners to be far more frustrating to handle than sore losers. The problem with a poor winner, is that they have a bit of a social checkmate over the situation. You can’t say anything to them, because “You’re just being a sore loser.” In this circumstance, I find that I just tend to not play with those people. If I’m going to play a game, that’s my only focus. I am not responsible for teaching others social courtesies. So, I spare myself the grief and avoid them entirely.
However, with a closer friend, I will make an exception and try to have a humble talk with them privately. It’s hard to not hurt someone’s feelings with things like this, but is important to do, for growth in your community. In the long run, a mate will appreciate a talk like this. As long as you're gentle, you can go far with handling this issue.
We are people, and we are all susceptible to emotions, both positive and negative. Although not pleasant, we are still responsible for our behavior. We can sometimes fall through the cracks, as well as others, so do what you can to maintain a healthy environment. For the average person, we play for fun, and to relieve ourselves of stress. For many of us, this is more than just a simple game. This is a means of escape, and finding peace. Keep that state of sportsmanship within the community, and in the end, everybody wins.