Proper Tournament Etiquette Is As Important As The Way Teams Solve the Problems

(borrowed from

It is always an exciting time for us as parents and judges to see the wonderful and creative solutions our children have worked hours upon. More often than not, the balsa wood structure competition is held in a gymnasium. We all know how sound carries and, let’s be honest, it’s very hard to hear what our children are saying during their long term performance. I ask my judges to get close to, but not in the way of, the children, so they don’t miss any of the style that is to be judged.

The reason for this article is to provide some helpful reminders to all of us in the Odyssey family from competitors to judges but most importantly to parents and guests. Please note that this year there will be no tolerance of any rude or disrespectful behavior from spectators during any of the tournaments. The way an adult behaves is as important as the way our students compete. Infractions could carry as much as 100 points in outside assistance or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for your child’s team.
Here are some basic guidelines based on observed behavior of parents and coaches at past competitions. Such infractions will not be tolerated this year or in the future include:

  1. Absolutely NO OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE–this includes fixing hair, makeup, costumes, fixing props, gluing or taping something together, etc.
  2. Be polite to the Judges. They are volunteering their free time to watch and score your child. An adult’s rude behavior to a judge can seriously penalize a child’s team.
  3. DO NOT tear, untie, or step over any boundary tape that is visible. It’s there for a reason, RESPECT IT! In the Structure problem, yellow caution tape is used.
  4. The Judges score is final. If the coach feels it’s unfair, there are proper procedures to follow.
  5. When the doors to a competition site are closed during a performance, DO NOT OPEN THEM! The doors are distracting and your child’s performance is more important than the sound of clanging metal doors being opened and closed.
  6. Coaches only, are to pick up the scores from the Head Judge. Parents, guests, and competitors are not to ask for or question the scores from anyone other than the Head Judge. It is also not proper to discuss your scores with anyone other than team members outside the competition area (i.e. cafeteria, during awards, etc.)
  7. Parents can help move props to the Staging Area. Once the performance is finished, parents are then encouraged to help the team remove props from the competition area.
  8. Be mindful of not singing and reciting the long term solutions–coaches and parents frequently and unconsciously have done this in the past. This can be misconstrued as Outside Assistance.
  9. Adult Assistant for the Structure Problem for handling the heavy weights must wait for a team member to designate which weight is to be placed on the crusher board. Once the weight is placed upon the weights the adult must move his/her hands and step away.
  10. Equipment furnished by the tournament such as weights for structure will not be altered to benefit one team once competition has begun. All requests for additional weights must be in written form and given to the Regional Director before the Tournament date.

Coaches please emphasize these guidelines to your parents. Also, from Regional competition to State competition, changes may occur. Keep tabs on the Arizona Odyssey and Odyssey of the Mind web sites so you won’t be caught offguard.


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