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Code of Conduct

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This document is a draft of a code of conduct for NASPA members that will take effect on July 1st, 2009.

Behavior Contrary to the Integrity of the SCRABBLE Game

The favorable reputations of SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game and the North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA) are valuable assets. They create tangible benefits for all NASPA members.

SCRABBLE players and officials serve as ambassadors for the game. Accordingly, everyone involved in organized SCRABBLE is obligated to refrain from engaging in conduct or behavior detrimental to the integrity of SCRABBLE when attending a club or tournament. SCRABBLE participants should also strive to present a positive image during events even when they are away from the tournament area, in such places as restaurants or hotels.

Players and directors are also responsible for ensuring that their friends, spouses, relatives, and other associates who attend events with them do not negatively disrupt the event or impede officials from doing their jobs at SCRABBLE events.

A SCRABBLE event should be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Behavior that is deemed harmful to this objective will not be tolerated. Players are obligated to inform directors about any incidents which are detrimental to the positive atmosphere at a SCRABBLE event. In order to create a pleasant atmosphere at SCRABBLE events, the following guidelines have been established.

Directors shall issue penalties when any of the following transgressions occur:

Classification 1 Code Violations

a. Abuse of Equipment

Players shall not violently, dangerously, or with anger throw, slam, break, damage or destroy any game equipment or tournament equipment. This includes tiles, tile bags, racks, boards, clocks, chairs, tables, receptacles, documents or computer equipment. This also includes items such as clipboards, pens, items of clothing, and other personal possessions.

b. Verbal Abuse

Players shall not at any time verbally abuse an opponent, a tournament official, volunteer, or any other person connected within the precincts of the tournament site. Verbal abuse is defined as any statement that is derogatory, insulting, threatening or otherwise abusive.

c. Audible Obscenities

Players shall not use any audible obscenities while playing a game or in the accepted boundaries of the tournament area. An audible obscenity is defined as the use of words commonly known and understood to be profane and uttered clearly and loudly enough to be heard.

d. Visible Obscenities

Players shall not make obscene gestures of any kind while playing a game or while in the accepted boundaries of the tournament area. A visible obscenity is defined as the making of a sign by a player with hands or other means that is commonly known to have an obscene meaning.

e. Leaving the Playing Area in Anger during a Game

Players shall not leave the playing room in a fit of anger or disappointment before their game is completed. This type of behavior is both disrespectful and unnerving to the opponent.

f. Deliberate Noncooperation with Tournament Officials

Players must strive to be cooperative with tournament officials and staff at all times. Deliberate noncooperation includes (but is not limited to) refusing to complete mandatory paperwork, refusing to cooperate with official game annotators, refusing to leave the playing area when asked to do so, refusing to tidy the playing area, and other acts of noncompliance that hinder the smooth operation of a tournament.

g. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Players shall at all times conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner and give due regard to the authority of officials and the rights of their opponents and other players. Unsportsmanlike conduct is defined as any misconduct by a player that is not specifically defined in other sections of this code, but is clearly abusive or detrimental to the success of the club, tournament, NASPA, or organized SCRABBLE in general.

Penalties for Classification 1 Code Violations

Tournament directors are empowered to discipline players who violate the code of behavior with Classification 1 transgressions in the following manner:

  • 1st offense: caution
  • 2nd offense: official warning
  • 3rd offense: 100-point penalty applied to tournament spread
  • 4th offense: ejection and disqualification from the tournament, including the forfeiture of any prize money

Note: A director may use his/her discretion to apply stricter penalties for a first offense if the violation is especially flagrant or egregious. (i.e. A director may immediately issue an official warning, a 100-point spread penalty, or eject the transgressor for a serious transgression.)

Classification 2 Code Violations

a. Physical Abuse

Players shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, or other person within the precincts of the tournament site. Physical abuse is defined as the unauthorized touching of an official, an opponent or other person at a tournament site, with the intention of harming, harassing, provoking, or intimidating that individual.

The penalty for physical abuse is the immediate ejection of the perpetrator from the tournament and possible suspension from future events.

Classification 3 Code Violations

a. Misbehavior Away from the Tournament Site

While attending a SCRABBLE event, it is important for players to realize that their actions, even while away from the tournament site, can positively or negatively reflect on the SCRABBLE community as a whole. Players who misbehave in hotels, at restaurants, or in other public places bring disrepute to the SCRABBLE community. Therefore, players who engage in negative behavior that reflects badly on the SCRABBLE are subject to sanctions from NASPA. Such sanctions can include disqualification from the events they are presently attending and/or suspension from future events.

Classification 4 Code Violations

a. Cheating

Players at SCRABBLE clubs and tournaments are honor-bound not to cheat. Cheating is a serious infraction that cannot be tolerated. Those who are caught cheating at a tournament will be immediately ejected and disqualified from the event. Any prize money will also be forfeited.

Those players whose actions and/or behaviors are suspicious will be warned that they are suspected of cheating. Any further occurrences of suspect behavior can result in ejection and disqualification from the tournament.

Record of Code Violations

Tournament directors are obligated to report all code violations to NASPA as soon as the event ends or sooner. NASPA will keep a record of all transgressions. An accumulation of transgressions will result in a warning that subsequent transgressions will result in longer suspensions and/or other disciplinary action.