Standards of Ethical Practice

Statement from the U.S. Backgammon Federation Board of Directors

Certain members have recently asked the USBGF Board of Directors to develop and enforce a “Decorum Sanctions Code” to regulate instances of alleged poor sportsmanship. The Board has thoroughly considered the matter and shares the members’ desire to make backgammon a more enjoyable experience for all involved. The current system of leaving player conduct matters solely in the hands of tournament directors is admittedly far from ideal. And while the USBGF’s current “Standards of Ethical Practice” may provide some aspirational guidance for players and tournament directors to foster good sportsmanship and fair play, it remains of little practical value because the Standards fail to identify either the specific conduct and circumstances that are subject to sanctions, or the procedures and penalties to be used when investigating and adjudicating complaints.

Based on the above set of circumstances, the Board agrees as follows:

First, the USBGF currently has no set of rules and regulations in place to allow for the fair adjudication of alleged past misconduct. The Board therefore will not take any action against any player or tournament director for alleged past actions. Nonetheless, the Board strongly encourages tournament directors to remain vigilant and sanction any player who behaves in a threatening or harassing manner. The Board also reserves its right in the future to sanction any such player with respect to USBGF-affiliated events and membership activities.

Second, the significant time and additional USBGF member resources needed to develop and implement a comprehensive “decorum code,” with its accompanying procedures and penalties, in connection with the requisite hearings, investigations, adjudication and enforcement, limits the current practicality of this project. Other organizations that have such a code (such as the American Contract Bridge League) are much more extensively funded and structured than the USBGF. Moreover, it is unclear that any such code would be more equitable than the current system of leaving such decisions in the hands of tournament directors. For these reasons, the Board declines to devote USBGF resources toward developing a “decorum sanctions code” at this time.

Third, notwithstanding the above, the Board would be willing to revisit this issue in the future if presented by the interested members with a comprehensive draft code that includes detailed descriptions of the specific conduct to be prohibited along with proposed procedures for investigating, adjudicating, and sanctioning alleged misconduct. It is not the Board’s intention to encourage or discourage the interested members from proceeding in this manner. However, the Board must stress that any submission should address all aspects of the Board enacting and implementing such a code. Based on the Board’s own internal discussions, such aspects would include but not necessarily be limited to:

◾the proposed type and scope of prohibited conduct (for example, only backgammon-related conduct or other personal conduct as well? What specific types of “poor sportsmanship” or other conduct? Misconduct only at tournament venues or in non-tournament settings as well?);
◾procedures for enacting the code (for example, would USBGF member approval be required? If so, by simple majority or by super-majority?);
◾procedures for implementing the code; roles of Board, ethics committee members, and/or others in investigating and ruling upon complaints; confidentiality measures; rights of accused to be informed of accusations, confront witnesses, present evidence; and rights of appeal; and
◾proposed penalties for specific conduct, multiple violations, and repeat offenders.
Although the Board has decided to take no further action at this time, it wishes to thank the interested members for bringing this important matter to the Board’s attention.

Karen Davis
Chairman, Board of Directors
U.S. Backgammon Federation

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