Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sportsmanship, Rules, and Parents

I appreciate the parents who come here. They are very nice to me, and every week I feel bad that I can't make the time to stop and talk to them because organizing tournaments requires a lot of attention. 

It is ok if parents make mistakes when entering tournaments. It happens all of the time, and there are no hard feelings. Parents are nice about it and they apologize. I try to offer a flexible option for the kid to make up for their missed tournament by attending a future tournament.

It is encouraging how parents are so nice. If chess parents weren't this kind, there wouldn't be as many chess professionals and chess volunteers.

I wish ALL parents would try their best to follow the rules. If there are 80 parents per week breaking the rules, then there is simply no hope for scholastic chess. If there is one parent breaking a rule, even just occasionally, it makes things worse for the other 79 families, but also it really just causes a lot of stress for the tournament staff. And then the staff has to spend more hours trying to figure out how to avoid these situations in the future. 

Recently, I was told that there might be an error in my tournament entry form system by a parent who appeared to have entered their child after the 10pm deadline. A parent told me that the player was definitely entered correctly, much earlier than the Thursday 10pm deadline. My logs showed that the entry came in after 10pm.

This is the first time someone suggested that the time-stamping on my online entry form logs might be incorrect. 

I guess I'm very gullible, but I believed the explanation that the player was entered correctly. I believed that there might be a problem with my online entry form time-stamping. Looking back, I feel so stupid for believing this. 

I accepted that this is MY mistake and I think I apologized for it. It really didn't occur that there could be an explanation other than my form being broken. I put the late entrants in.. and I had to modify pairings and make uneven sections. 

Later, I learned that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the form. I followed through and contacted Formstack (the company I hire to operate my entry forms) and they assured me that there was no error, and the time stamps are always accurate. In this case particularly, the form time was 100% correct and I was told by Formstack staff that this specific entry really came in at the after 10pm time . 

Basically, without going on with the negativity, I just have to say that I feel saddened by this. It was a horrible way to end the semester. I will be devoting some time over break figuring out what to do when parents break the rules or show bad sportsmanship. I have to figure out what is the best way to revoke their membership. It is a problem that I won't enjoy solving. 

6 hours ago I just naturally had the attitude:  "Why would someone make this up?" I feel depressed that now I have to consider that these types of things will happen at scholastic chess tournaments. 

This experience was distracting and effected the quality of the tournament (I started 15 minutes late and I feel great joy when we start right on time).  This just caused me personal stress and a lot of extra work as well. I spent hours figuring out how a perfectly functional form is broken. I spent at least 15 minutes during the busiest time of the tournament, re-doing everything because I believed something that wasn't true.

But overall, I just learned an important lesson. And now comes the challenging part: I will focus on canceling memberships when parents break rules. With honest mistakes, I am perfectly happy. I know the intention is good. Careless mistakes are fine as well. But when there are cases like this.. it is not ok. And I will spend time over winter break figuring out the best way to do this. 

Again, I would like to say that I'm very grateful because most parents go above and beyond to do the right thing and this encourages me to try my best.