Cell phone rules/policy

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rchschem
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Cell phone rules/policy

Post by rchschem »

Some tournaments specify no cell phones/pagers in a match. What's the penalty for this? Specifically, what would be an appropriate penatly for a player who answers his phone during a match and takes the call while playing?

Is an automatic match forfeit too strong? This would be my feeling as TD and moderator.

Yes, it did happen. The moderator waited and then continued; I didn't find out about it until after the match.

I don't see anything in the NAQT rules about this (not that they are the bible, but many tournaments draw from their framework.

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Re: Cell phone rules/policy

Post by Tegan »

rchschem wrote:Some tournaments specify no cell phones/pagers in a match. What's the penalty for this? Specifically, what would be an appropriate penatly for a player who answers his phone during a match and takes the call while playing?
Plunge the antenna in and out of each ear about 30-50 times.

We all make mistakes and have a phone go off during a match...but ACTUALLY taking the call.
Is an automatic match forfeit too strong? This would be my feeling as TD and moderator.
I would think this to be a tad overboard. If the phone goes off....some token penalty might possibly be appropriate. If the player asks for a moment because this is important....I would think that the player should be disqualified from the game....but not the whole team.
Yes, it did happen. The moderator waited and then continued; I didn't find out about it until after the match.
This happened to me at a middle school match. In the middle of reading a toss-up, the kid on the end gets up and leaves the room. I finished the tossup (the other team got it), and the coach asked for a moment to find out the problem. She disappeared into the hall, and a moment later you heard (bellowing down the hall) "HANG UP THAT PHONE THIS INSTANT!" We were all laughing, but I decided to charge the coach a time out, and let the player come back to play.
Last edited by Tegan on Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Stained Diviner »

I think that forfeit is too strong. Removal of the offending student from the match is more appropriate. If there is a policy, I think it should state that the student cannot be replaced. Without a policy in place, it may be better to err towards leniency and allow a replacement.

Though I am being lenient in policy, I will state that the behavior is beyond rude.
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Re: Cell phone rules/policy

Post by STPickrell »

Taking the call during the match would certainly qualify as illegal conferring.

Here's my (proposed) Commentaries to the VHSL Handbook, which contains the Scholastic Bowl rules.

For tossups:
"If players receive cell phone calls, pages or other communication from outside the match room this will be counted as conferring." (my proposed penalty is to have it be counted as an incorrect answer. Amazingly enough, there's no penalty for conferring explicitly mentioned in the Handbook.)

For directed questions (or bonuses):
"Communication between team members and non-team members during the conferring period is not permitted. This includes receiving cell phone calls, pages or other communication from outside the room. This will be ruled as an incorrect answer, with the question read to the other team if appropriate. However, at any time, players, coaches or audience members may alert the officials to unsafe or unacceptable conditions, either in the room or with a player/official/audience member."

If any player answered a cel phone call during a match, I would consider that a sportsmanship violation -- which I just discovered is defined fairly well for speech/debate, but not (yet) for Scholastic Bowl.

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Post by Howard »

Some rules shouldn't need to be made, but apparently some people don't have any sense of common decency. First, cell phones should be OFF in the tournament room. I agree that a ringing cell phone should be grounds for a small penalty (team eliminated from tossup/bonus in progress for example). Actually answering the phone is grounds for the player to be removed from the tournament, not just the match. And I wouldn't allow a substitution unless at an appropriate substitution point in the match. I wouldn't forfeit the team, however. Most teams understand proper etiquette even if one of their players doesn't. It seems somewhat senseless to punish a whole team for the actions of one player.
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Post by First Chairman »

Phones, pagers, watch alarms, and any beeping machines should be completely disabled before the start of the tournament. If a player has his/her phone go off in the middle of a match, you could probably call it as illegal conferring.
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Post by rchschem »

Illegal conferring seems to be the fair thing to do. Penalizing an entire team for one person's gross dumbassity is, as you have all said, too Draconian.

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Re: Cell phone rules/policy

Post by AKKOLADE »

Tegan wrote: Plunge the antenna in and out of each ear about 30-50 times.
This is the proper answer.

My suggestion: if they don't answer, give them your best "I'm going to do what Tegan suggested" glare then continue. If it happens again, then disqualify them from answering their next question.

If they answer, I say that's grounds for suspicion of answer sharing. If interpreted as such, following your tournament's rules for such a situation (match/tourney DQ, forfeiture of points, cell phone antenna ear-penetration, etc)

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Post by rchschem »

To clarify: I didn't mean to single out a student, but to use him as an example for a case that I had not seen addressed but is likely to show up again. This should obviously be addressed by TDs and coaches alike.

There is backstory here which softens the case a bit, but I'm sure there is still dumbassity going on out there in the rest of the world.

Thanks for your opinions.

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Post by NoahMinkCHS »

I think StPickrell's answer is the best, and what my suggestion was going to be. In a timed round, I would probably read the question to the other team off the clock, since no doubt some time was wasted by the offending player.

How about audience members, though? If a team's designated coach (if there is one) is the offender, I wonder if the same solution might work. Then again, s/he isn't playing, so that's not really fair. Hmm... Of course, if it's not a coach, I think the reader should eject that person from the room for the duration of the match -- even if it's a sub player. This should all be stated in the rules and in the opening meeting.

I suppose if someone has a good reason (eg, baby on the way or they're a volunteer firefighter or something), that can be discussed with the TD at the beginning of the day. Otherwise, no mercy. I've seen this happen once, courtesy of one of the rudest people I've played (even if his phone hadn't gone off), and while he received no penalty, it was a joy to beat his team badly.

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Post by Matthew D »

Well I suggest to all of the people that are watching to at least turn their phones to vibrate so that the players don't have to listen to it.. I also told my players that phones were off...
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Post by DumbJaques »

I agree that a ringing cell phone should be grounds for a small penalty (team eliminated from tossup/bonus in progress for example).
If a player has his/her phone go off in the middle of a match, you could probably call it as illegal conferring.
Don't you think you're overreacting just a little? Sure, if someone answers their phone during a game and starts loudly discussing how much they loved last night's episode of Desperate Housewives, they probably deserve some kind of celestial and temporal penalty. But I don't think it's fair to characterize anyone - player, coach, audience member, whatever - who has a cell phone ring during a game as rude. Sometimes people just forget to turn off their cell phones. And sometimes people need to have them on (I would stress the fact that emergencies are NOT predictable. . . what with them being emergencies and all). Even if a player was a model human being/sentient robot, and turned their cell phone off before 9 games and only kept it on in between, they could still just forget to turn it off during the 10th. Essentially, here's what I see the issue as. People need cell phones. Cell phones are largely useless when turned off. People should remember to keep them on silent or vibrate or whatever, particular in a competitive situation. People are human beings, and they make mistakes sometimes. But you (as in, anyone else in the room/tournament) are human beings too. If a player's phone rings and he immediately shuts it off, any reader who would then penalize the player/team for conferring or cheating or something like that is an idiot. Seriously, they aren't cheating. If you want to call them inconsiderate or a jerk, that's obviously your right, and while I see no rationale for it, it's your opinion. But don't twist the rules of a tournament or the rules of common sense just because someone offended your sense of courtesy. Like I said, there might be a very important reason they had the cell phone with them, and none of us have any way of knowing.

There is the legitimate consideration of a phone ringing during a tossup, which can be an obstruction no matter whom it belongs to. I see this as yet another reason not to penalize a player, since their phone ringing would be no more or less annoying (depending, I suppose, on the propensity to use amazingly annoying ring tones) than if a parent's had gone off. Or a coach's. Or the moderator's. As awesome as neg-fiving the mod would be, I don't think anyone here would suggest it. But if any phone does go off, and does somehow screw with the question that's being asked, the TD will have to make a decision. That's what TDs do, they make decisions about debatable issues. As a TD, I would approach the issue with the assumption that everyone involved is a rational, relatively polite person unless they demonstrate otherwise, rather than assume something about their character. I certainly wouldn't penalize them for merely possessing a phone that rang, nor would I consider ejecting them or getting creative with my interpretation of the rules. Even if I percieved this action as rude and inconsiderate, I would give someone the benefit of the doubt.

I do realize that most people where talking about answering the cell phone, but my point is the same for a case where someone really does have to take a call and politely gets up and leaves. This is a high school competition, it should be friendly, and all participants should be treated like people, not small children. Again, if someone starts conducting a conversation during the match, or does something similarly disruptive, portable communication-related or not, you should take action accordingly. If they're ok to return or continue, and you see no reason they would cause a future disruption or exhibit any disrespect to anyone, then get over your offense that something beeped at you while reading a question and go on. Essentially, don't be uptight about something as minor as a ringing phone. It's bad for blood pressure.
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Post by Tegan »

DumbJaques wrote:There is the legitimate consideration of a phone ringing during a tossup, which can be an obstruction no matter whom it belongs to. I see this as yet another reason not to penalize a player, since their phone ringing would be no more or less annoying (depending, I suppose, on the propensity to use amazingly annoying ring tones) than if a parent's had gone off. <sic> As a TD, I would approach the issue with the assumption that everyone involved is a rational, relatively polite person unless they demonstrate otherwise, rather than assume something about their character.
I'm really not trying to be a smart alleck...but...

A basketball player is in a critical moment late in the game, and calls a time-out when the team has none.....the action is stopped. He had a very human, momentary lapse in memory/judgement. Should they just let them inbound and restart the game...or is the technical OK.

A golfer is distracted by a big bird flying across the field of view as she is about to hit the ball....the ball slices....perfectly human....is it acceptable to call for a mulligan, or is there the penalty of a bad lie?

A tight quiz bowl match.....the toss-up is in progress, everyone is ready to go...two more words, and player "X" will get it. Player "Y"'s cell phone goes off, and player "X" accidentally hits the lockout.....or perhaps a player on the other team gets the feeling player "X" is about to get it, and hits their button first, claiming it was accidentally triggered when the cell phone went off....and the rationale thing to do is replace the toss-up, even though "X" was about to get it. X feels rooked!

I applaud you for your approach on assuming that everyone is mature and responsible, because I think you are right. I also agree that cell phones are a necesary part of many people's lives (even though I have survived without one, I know many people do need them). However, part of any competition is not just the skill, but the discipline. This is true in practically every single competition I am aware of. I would think that at the very least, any form of a distraction (such as a cell phoe going off), should carry some small penalty. Ejection is likely a bit much, unless the player actually started a conversation right there in the match.

If a player knows there is a potential emergency, set it to vibrate, inform their coach that if the phone signals, that a time-out is needed, and go out and take the call.

I think it is not asking too much discipline to require players and coaches to turn off/silence their signaling devices durig the match....as in life, sometimes you make a mistake, and you have to pay for it.

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Post by Howard »

Actually, a coach's (or chaperone's) phone did ring in one of the matches at the WJ tournament Saturday. I don't recall who the offending party was, nor is it important. They were apologetic. In fact, I believe they did indeed forget to turn it off. And this is why I only recommended a small penalty. I, too agree that most people are well intentioned. But I also believe that people need to be held responsible for their actions, even if unintentional, with reasonable consequences.

In this instance, I stopped play so as to minimize the impact of the phone ringing. Once the disruption was over, I resumed. And, since it was not someone playing the game, I didn't think it appropriate to penalize either team. Even if I had wanted to, I don't think there was a penalty structure present at the WJ tourney that would have enabled me to assess such a penalty.
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Post by DumbJaques »

Tegan, I don't either of your sports "analogies" really hold true for the cell phone situation. As an athlete, you are responsible for the rules of your game. If the TD announced a rule at the beginning of the tournament that a ringing cell phone would result in a neg (or ejection. Or defenestration. Whatever), then I would call it a stupid rule, but you better believe I would turn off my cell phone. But let's be clear. You're not proposing this scenario, you're attempting to modify existing rules to conform to what you view to be poor manners. And while I appreciate how it is easy for someone who doesn't (and doesn't need to) use a cell phone to view things in a certain way, I think there needs to be an appreciation too for the student too.

I also don't understand the golf thing. If a player negged because a cell phone scared him into buzzing, I would be inclined to disregard the protest unless the coaches came to a consensus, considering that ambient noise/sights are not really within the realm of anyone's control. I go back to this situation: 10 people are in the audience. If any of their phones go off, no penalty can really be enforced. But if an opposing player's goes off, it suddenly becomes enforceable. It's really about looking for a way to punish someone for annoying you and, sadly, that isn't really fair.

If in fact a cell phone ring, regardless of where it came from, interfered with a tossup, I think a TD's judgement call would be appropriate (I would likely throw the question out). Of course, that judgement would be dependent upon the TD being reasonable and possessing a capacity for common sense. The same kind of common sense which, in my opinion, should dissuade a moderator from penalizing a player whose phone rang twice, was quickly turned off, and did not interfere with the tossup.
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Post by Howard »

DumbJaques wrote:If the TD announced a rule at the beginning of the tournament that a ringing cell phone would result in a neg (or ejection. Or defenestration. Whatever), then I would call it a stupid rule, but you better believe I would turn off my cell phone. But let's be clear. You're not proposing this scenario, you're attempting to modify existing rules to conform to what you view to be poor manners.
Well, I partially agree. I think the TD announcing the rule, or a codified ruleset included the rule, either amounts to the same thing. And I think each would be effective at deterring cell phones from ringing. Poor manners or not, there are two things that make it more than that. First it's disruptive to the teams' attention. Second, it's disruptive to the tournament.

Doors are shut for a reason. Cell phones should be off for the same reason. It prevents outside interference in the match. Which, I suppose, brings me to another question. Should opening/closing the door (presumably entering or leaving) in the middle of a tossup or bonus question warrant some sort of penalty? What if left open for a significant period of time? The more I think about it, the more I think the situations are similar. I know I'm rambling more than making a point, but I'm typing this as I've pretty much thought of the idea, so I don't know exactly how I feel yet or whether I've changed my mind on anything.
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Post by Tegan »

DumbJaques wrote:Tegan, I don't either of your sports "analogies" really hold true for the cell phone situation. As an athlete, you are responsible for the rules of your game. If the TD announced a rule at the beginning of the tournament that a ringing cell phone would result in a neg (or ejection. Or defenestration. Whatever), then I would call it a stupid rule, but you better believe I would turn off my cell phone.
Certainly if there is no prescribed penalty in advance, I would have a hard time enforcing one (if I were an official), unless I felt it was attempting to obviously delay.....but if the rule is stated in advance, then it needs to be enforced (stupid or not).

I don't mean to compare what we do to sport, other than to say that they are all competitions. To take it further, in golf competitions, gallery members who distract the golfers can be ejected (certainly no penalty to the player...and no, I am not advocating ejecting audience members here...but there is a prescedent)

But let's be clear. You're not proposing this scenario, you're attempting to modify existing rules to conform to what you view to be poor manners.
I would see bad manners as putting the glass on the left side of the plate. Permitting your teamates or opponents to lose their rhythm because we need to stop the match while you check the phone and turn it off...especially mid toss-up (which might mean the question needs to be thrown out)...that borders on poor sportsmanship...not blatantly bad or intentionally bad mind you, but poor in terms of getting ready to play.
10 people are in the audience. If any of their phones go off, no penalty can really be enforced. But if an opposing player's goes off, it suddenly becomes enforceable. It's really about looking for a way to punish someone for annoying you and, sadly, that isn't really fair.
It happens in other competitions all the time. There are certain behaviors you can do in the stands, and it is fine....but for the actual players to do them is another story. In volleyball, fans can yell and scream all the time, but I seem to recall that the opposing players must come to a stop before the serve to avoid distracting the server.....and the team gets penalized even if they move "on accident".
If in fact a cell phone ring, regardless of where it came from, interfered with a tossup, I think a TD's judgement call would be appropriate (I would likely throw the question out). Of course, that judgement would be dependent upon the TD being reasonable and possessing a capacity for common sense.
So in this scenario, the player who was about to ring in gets penalized when the question gets thrown out....while the person who caused the question to get thrown out has nothing happen. I agree, in principle, that a scenario like this which causes no encumbrance to either team shouldn't necessarily get penalized, but as an official, I have a problem if this potentially encumbers a team who could have gotten a question

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