Chapter 5 - Conflicts, Player Conduct & Conflict Resolution
5.1 - Player Conduct, Terms of Participation & Disciplinary Regulations
GOHA Code of Conduct
All league members, without exception, are responsible for adhering to, maintaining and promoting the guidelines and principles detailed in the GOHA Mission. While acknowledging the competitive nature of the game and, consequentially, the potential for emotions to interfere with clear judgment, the Mission sets the standard by which every player's actions are judged and is always to be held above the game itself.
By participating in league activities, all members inherently agree to the following conditions and stipulations:
--All members must abide by all league rules, regulations and policies, and understand the consequences associated with any actions that work against these rules.
--GOHA is fully owned and operated by its members, with all league activities hosted within the platform of Second Life and coordinated both in-world and through the league website provided by Teamopolis. By participating in the league and utilizing its website, all members agree to abide not only by the league's code of conduct, but also the terms and conditions of service for both Linden Labs and Teamopolis.
--Under no circumstances may any member engage in any action or speech, whether through Second Life or any other online medium, that:
a) Interferes with the league's ability to function and operate on any level,
b) Is counteractive to the Mission of the league,
c) Is openly hostile toward the league, its members or its affiliates,
d) Is destructive or critical of the league in a non-constructive fashion, or;
e) Is otherwise harmful to the league.
--The league operates as a not-for-profit virtual hockey club, with all services provided free of charge. All contributions, financial, material or otherwise, are considered as donations intended solely for league use and are made with the understanding on behalf of the donor that they are not obligated to receive any compensation in return.
--Any content that is created, purchased or otherwise donated for league use must first be approved by the commissioner. All donations of content, time, work and effort will be given proper recognition, with any copyrights negotiated and honored, but will not be compensated financially or by any other means without prior contractual agreement.
--Under no circumstances may any member of the league offer or receive financial or material compensation for in-game performance, attendance, managerial or captaincy functions, voting, drafting, or any other reason that is directly related to the league or its activities.
--League members may not openly harass or act in a hostile nature toward other in-world groups, and may not attempt to promote the league in areas owned by other groups in an unsolicited manner (i.e., without prior agreement from all parties involved).
--Conduct warnings, and the specific details pertaining to them, are kept confidential to the fullest possible extent and are only accessible by the individual player, the player's captain, stats site administrators, league managers and commissioner. Members may not request any information regarding a specific player's conduct history.
--All members are responsible for fostering a culture of respect and integrity within the league, as well as promoting a positive and welcoming environment for players and spectators alike.
Any incident related to player conduct that requires review or intervention by management may lead to what is referred to as "supplemental discipline". This term refers to the administration of admonishments or warnings, suspensions and conduct warnings in response to events that occur inside or outside of a game setting.
Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, game misconduct penalties, conduct warnings, and any actions that are viewed as harmful to the image of the league, detrimental to the league's ability to function, or counteractive to the GOHA Mission and/or code of conduct can lead to the use of supplemental discipline. Each set of actions garners its own set of consequences, which increase in severity depending on a number of factors, including but not limited to the egregiousness of the offenses committed, accumulation of penalties or warnings over the course of a season or within a span of time, and player history.
Depending on the severity of the situation and the offenses that a player commits, management may review the possibility of revoking the player's position in captaincy and/or management; this decision will be automatic in the event of a season or indefinite suspension.
Supplemental discipline follows a loose hierarchy, in that the consequences may be followed in order as a guideline, but management may opt to ignore the order and immediately apply harsher sanctions upon a player if necessary. At the discretion of management and the approval of the commissioner, players who are guilty of severe misconduct, who have a record of poor conduct or who have otherwise shown themselves to be repeat offenders may be given suspensions or conduct warnings without first being issued a verbal warning.
Supplemental discipline is administered in the following hierarchy:
1) Verbal warning
2) Suspension, 1 game
3) Suspension, 3 games, no conduct warning
4) Conduct warning
5) Suspension, remainder of season and playoffs + conduct warning, loss of captaincy/managerial status
6) Indefinite suspension + automatic three conduct warnings
Conduct warnings that are issued independently will carry the following consequences unless otherwise noted:
--1st warning: Suspension, 3 games
--2nd warning: Suspension, 5 games, team captain or assistants notified if applicable
--3rd warning: Indefinite suspension, team captain or assistants notified if applicable, loss of captaincy/managerial status; player will lose privilege of participating in league activities
Committing multiple offenses in one incident, as well as performing any actions that cause an escalation of the situation or showing any outward hostility toward any player or manager in response to supplemental discipline, may result in longer suspensions and/or multiple conduct warnings. In these cases, punishments will not be stacked upon one another (e.g., issuing a suspension and then adding another suspension on top of it), but the initial punishment may be adjusted, with any suspensions extended.
While under suspension, a player will not be allowed to play in a set number of games, as determined by management. Suspensions are applied to games in both divisions, meaning that a player will miss an equivalent length of time in one division as they will in the other.
Due to the varying nature of the schedule for the European division, the length of suspensions for this division will not be based on a set number of games but will instead be based on an equivalent length of time, as detailed below:
1 game (NA) = 1 game (Euro)
3 games (NA) = 1 week (Euro)
5 games (NA) = 2 weeks (Euro)
Suspended players will not be able to participate in league activities for the duration of the suspension, including scrimmages, farm practices, and any league-sanctioned events; however, players are permitted to attend games as a spectator and to communicate with their teammates while they are serving their suspension.
Players who have been suspended will have their equipment manually locked out under all known names; any attempts to circumvent a lockout will result in an automatic conduct warning and suspension for the remainder of the season, including playoffs.
Conduct warnings are utilized in cases of egregious, repeated or accumulated incidents of poor sportsmanship and conduct, both on the ice and, to an extent, off the ice. Repeated or flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct and game misconduct penalties, as well as cases of poor conduct outside of a game, can result in conduct warnings.
If a player receives multiple conduct warnings, or is issued a warning combined with a season suspension, then only the greater of the two punishments will be applied.
Conduct warnings that were issued prior to Season 19 will remain active and on record, but the conditions for Conduct Forgiveness (described below) will be applied retroactively to all league members, including players who were previously banned but returned before Season 19.
For the purposes of adhering to the revisions added to the conduct rules, all players who are under or are returning from indefinite suspension in Season 19 will automatically have three conduct warnings on record. In addition, players who were banned but returned prior to Season 19 will have conduct warnings placed on their record if none were added previously; the number of warnings applied will vary based on the conditions for Conduct Forgiveness.
A player may have one of their conduct warnings rescinded when all of the following conditions have been met:
1) Player has been involved in league activities for at least three (3) full seasons prior to Season 20.
2) Player's last conduct warning was administered three or more seasons prior to the current season (i.e., any time before Season 17).
3) No conduct warnings or suspensions of three games or more have been issued to the player for at least three full seasons, including any offseason events; these seasons do not have to be consecutive (i.e, player can take seasons off inbetween), but the player must have been active throughout three seasons. In this case, active status refers to regular participation either as a manager or referee, regular participation in games as a player, and the ability of the player to remain an active member of their team’s roster.
4) Player has shown evidence of improved behavior and conduct, and demonstrates an understanding of why they received their conduct warning and how they can avoid future warnings.
Conduct Forgiveness will be applied retroactively from Season 19. Players who have met these requirements over the course of previous seasons will have a corresponding number of conduct warnings removed, depending on the number of seasons played. Players who continue to satisfy these conditions for another three seasons after losing their first warning may have a second warning removed.
If a player receives a conduct warning or a suspension of three or more games, then the conditions for conduct forgiveness are reset and the player must play for another three seasons without incident before a conduct warning can be removed.
All conduct warnings must remain on record for a minimum of three (3) seasons. Management will maintain a record of any changes made to a player's conduct warnings. Conduct Forgiveness is not applied until the end of each season.
A player who accumulates three (3) active conduct warnings will be suspended indefinitely from all league activities. Any player under indefinite suspension may no longer participate in games or other league-sanctioned events, and any positions held in captaincy or management will be stripped.
Indefinite suspensions must be served for a minimum of three (3) seasons; the actual duration of suspension will vary on a case-by-base basis, and in some cases may be permanent.
Players who were suspended indefinitely in previous seasons for conduct issues may request re-entry only by contacting the commissioner. All decisions to allow or disallow a suspended player to return to the league are left to the discretion of management, with the final verdict to be rendered by the commissioner.
Returning players will have their third conduct warning lifted conditionally, and will be placed in a probationary period of three (3) seasons; these seasons do not have to be played consecutively, but the player must remain active and in good standing through three full seasons. During the probationary period, any single incident of poor conduct or sportsmanship that falls under managerial review may lead to reinstatement of the player's third conduct warning and indefinite suspension from the league once again.
A player returning from indefinite suspension will not be eligible to hold a position in management, cannot occupy a position as referee, and cannot be considered for captaincy in any form (i.e., draft, team or assistant) until their probationary period has ended.
A player who has returned from indefinite suspension may have their third conduct warning removed fully if they satisfy the requirements listed under Conduct Forgiveness.
By participating in GOHA, all members make the understanding that while the league will never attempt to seek out, collect or distribute the real-world information of its members, and will make every feasible effort to protect and maintain the privacy of its members, there is an inherent risk, by virtue of the public nature of the game, that there are cases in which their virtual image/avatar, display name, or other information relating to their Second Life persona may be publicized or transmitted to others.
All league members may be subject to the recording and/or disclosure of chat logs, forum posts, pictures, video footage or other sources documenting that member's speech, actions or other information pertaining to that member, whether through the medium of Second Life or through other online sources. These records are officially kept only through archived league broadcasts, game and season statistics, league promotions, and by members of management for the purposes of maintaining player conduct records and to resolve any disputes, conflicts, or situations pertaining to conduct or in-game incidents. Management may request this information for the sole purpose of resolving issues dealing with player conduct and conflicts among teams and players, and will not distribute any information to any member who is not directly involved with the incident.
Additionally, league members must recognize that unofficial documentation of a member's image or information may take place as a result of the presence of spectators and the natural traffic that passes through the Chamonix and Jericho Hill regions. Pictures and recordings of league games and events by third parties, whether affiliated with GOHA or acting independently, are permitted with the sole requirement that these images are not used or distributed for malicious purposes.
GOHA will not actively utilize the name or image of its members or any affiliated groups for promotional purposes without prior consent, and to the best of its ability, will not allow any third-party individual or group to engage in this activity. Similarly, GOHA will not tolerate the nonconsensual distribution of any information that a member may deem to be private, or the distribution of false, misleading or slanderous information pertaining to any of its members, and will handle these situations through the use of league supplemental discipline and/or by filing abuse reports with Linden Labs.
5.2 - Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution consists of a set of both formal and informal procedures that are used to defuse any disputes between individuals or teams, as well as to file a grievance toward a referee, manager, or toward the outcome of a particular game in the event that a serious issue emerges.
Conflict resolution takes five forms, listed as follows:
- Direct communication
- Manager intervention
- Commissioner involvement
- Game protests
In all stages of conflict resolution, management will assess whether or not there has been any breach of the league’s code of conduct or any violation of conduct rules, with supplemental discipline to be applied if necessary.
The ability to communicate effectively with teammates, other players, referees and managers is crucial for success not only in games, but also to resolve any issues that may emerge and, more importantly, to prevent these issues from ever occurring.
Under ideal circumstances, players should be able to handle disputes among themselves by simply talking with one another in a mature, rational manner. If a player has an issue with another person, whether it is shared mutually or not, then the first step in conflict resolution is always to speak directly with the person in question. Management will not intervene in strictly personal disputes unless proof can be provided that one or both sides has made a sufficiently reasonable attempt to speak directly with one another.
Players are encouraged to speak with a member of management if a conflict emerges that is delicate or sensitive in nature, is related to one or more teams, league rules or the league as a whole, or cannot otherwise be resolved easily. Not all issues will require a manager’s involvement, and the extent to which management may intervene will vary on a case by case basis.
Conflicts relating to players, teams or player conduct should be directed toward the appropriate division manager. Any issues related to league rules should be sent to the referee manager. Issues that involve the league as a whole should be delivered to the league commissioner. In cases where a player believes that conflict of interest may exist, especially with regards to division-related issues, then they should use their best judgment to speak with a different member of management.
Management may act independently to investigate and resolve any potential conflicts that may emerge or are presumed to exist. Information pertaining to conflicts and/or conduct may be shared among other members of management for the purposes of aiding with conflict resolution.
If a player requests for a manager to assist in resolving a conflict, they will be asked to explain the situation and to provide chat logs or other sources of information related to the issue. In general, management will intervene under the following circumstances:
1) Player-Related Conflicts: If one player has an issue with another player, regardless of whether or not they are teammates, then they must first make an effort to communicate with one another. While teammates may seek the advice of their captain to resolve personal conflicts, the dialogue between players must take place in a way that does not draw in other people who are not involved in the conflict, put others in a position where they are pressured into taking one side over the other, or incite players into openly spreading rumors or gossip in any form.
Players must show proof that they have at least attempted to resolve the conflict between themselves before management will intervene. The league will not become involved in personal matters between its players and will only offer assistance with issues that are related to gameplay, team cohesiveness, or conduct. Additionally, management will not intercede unless there is a breakdown in communication, in which at least one side becomes unresponsive, uncooperative, or openly hostile, or if personal conflicts between teammates begin to spread into or negatively impact the rest of their team.
If a player feels that the nature of their conflict is sensitive and requires the aid of a manager to act as mediator before they reach out to the player that they have an issue with, then they may reach out to management freely. In these cases, the league will require an explanation of the issue, and will decide whether or not to intervene based on the information provided.
2) Intrateam Conflicts: If conflicts emerge that are pervasive throughout a team and are a source of strife among its players, then members of the team are strongly encouraged to speak with their captain to work toward a solution before reaching out to management, if feasible.
Team affairs fall under the responsibility of each captain, who should make every reasonable effort to hold their team together and not allow conflicts to become a distraction; however, captains are welcome to speak with a manager for guidance and recommendations on which course of action to take, especially in cases where personal conflicts begin to affect the cohesiveness and morale of the team.
Captains are encouraged to utilize the tools that are provided to them (i.e., benching players, managing ice time, communication with players/management, disciplinary waivers, et al.) to handle problems on the team as they emerge.
If the issues on a team are deemed to be so severe that they require direct or immediate attention, or are related to the captaincy of the team, then players should speak directly with their division manager.
Team-related conflicts are caustic to the foundation of a team and it’s ability to function as a unit; these conflicts pose a greater threat to the integrity and functioning of the league as a whole, and are not taken lightly by management. If the league must intervene with a team-related issue, then the division manager for that team will speak with the team captain, specific players on the team, and/or the team as a whole, depending on the situation. The division manager may also work together with the commissioner or other managers and advisors to assess these situations.
Management has numerous tools, of varying severity and aggressiveness, at its disposal to defuse any team conflicts and will utilize them as needed; these actions include but are not limited to holding team meetings, use of supplemental discipline, moving players in and out of the team, suspension of players or team, player placements, dismantling the team, or revoking and reissuing captaincy.
If a team faces conflicts that are clear and evident and have significantly affected the team in a negative manner, then management may look to resolve these issues on its own without any prior communication with the team.
3) Interteam/Divisional Conflicts: Any issues that directly involve multiple teams within the same division will fall under the supervision of the league, to be handled largely in collaboration between the division manager for those teams, league commissioner, and team captains. Most often, conflicts of this nature emerge as a result of issues surrounding a team’s conduct, transaction disputes, or a perceived disparity in skill or attendance between teams.
If one team has an issue with another team’s actions or conduct, then the captain of that team should contact their division manager and describe the nature of the conflict, as well as any incidents or dialogue related to it, before confronting an opposing captain. Management will then investigate the issue and, if there is a valid conflict, follow one of three steps, listed below:
a) Advise the captain to speak directly with the captain of the opposing team, or serve as a mediator between both captains.
b) Communicate with the opposing captain for the purposes of either resolving the conflict, or gaining additional information.
c) Take direct disciplinary action to resolve the conflict and if necessary, gather more information independently, with or without further communication between team captains.
Issues pertaining to transactions, team composition, attendance or player placements are generally addressed during captain meetings, but captains may also speak with management about these issues individually if they wish. If there is a significant concern over balance among teams, or if there is a heavy disparity in player attendance between teams, then the league will examine the factors that led to this disparity.
In many cases, team needs, balance and attendance issues in any given season can be traced back to the selections made by each team during the season draft; if a significant balance issue exists, the league will assess to what degree the issue can be attributed specifically to draft decisions compared to external or uncontrollable factors (ex., midseason changes in player attendance, significant differences in projected attendance vs. actual attendance, etc.). Based on this assessment, management will then make a decision on the most appropriate way to introduce more parity among teams without giving an unjustified or unwarranted boost to any team.
Other divisional conflicts may center around the scheduling of games and holidays. The schedule for the entire season is published weeks ahead of the season and cannot be disputed once finalized; however, an element of flexibility exists within the schedule for cases where a game is forced to be postponed or moved. Consult Rule 1.2 - Season Rules & Regulations for details regarding postponements; for specific questions related to the schedule, players should contact their division manager.
4) Rule-Related Conflicts: Specific rules and their interpretations have been a point of contention, scrutiny and emotional debate among players at various times throughout the history of the league. While any official changes to the league rules must be approved by the commissioner, players who have an issue with the logic or purpose behind a particular rule, or questions regarding the usage or interpretation of these rules, should first speak with the referee manager for an explanation.
Generally speaking, if a player has an issue with the way that a rule is applied during a game, they may either ask their captain to consult with the referee during the game in a non-argumentative fashion, or wait until the game has ended to speak with either the referee or referee manager for a more thorough explanation. Judgment calls can never be argued during the course of a game, but team captains may either ask the referee for their interpretation of the incident that led to the call, or speak directly with the referee manager.
In the most serious cases, conflicts that involve league rules are tied closely with grievances and game protests; consult the appropriate sections below for further details.
The commissioner is the final arbiter in all matters related to conduct and conflict resolution, and has the sole authority to ultimately approve, reject, or overturn any decisions that are rendered.
In all stages and forms of conflict resolution, the commissioner may be informed of the issue at hand and in most cases, may serve in an advisory role or act in an indirect or collaborative fashion with other managers and team captains.
If a player-related conflict threatens to negatively affect one or more teams, but cannot be resolved after manager intervention and after exhausting all other possible solutions, then it is brought to the commissioner for a decision. If deemed necessary, the commissioner may also intervene at any time during the process of resolution for any type of conflict.
Conflicts that fall under the direct oversight of the commissioner include:
-Repealing indefinite suspensions
-Inquiries regarding conduct warnings and conduct status
-Concerns regarding specific elements of gameplay
-Suggestions for inclusion, removal, or alteration of specific league rules
-Issues related to usage of facilities and land
-General issues related to the league in its entirety (i.e., season scheduling, league-sanctioned events, short-term/long-term projects, relations with outside groups, etc.)
Players who wish to raise any issues that fall under these descriptions should reach out to the commissioner directly.
A grievance is a way for players to file a formal complaint that is directed toward the behavior or actions of a referee or league manager. Whereas direct communication is suitable to resolve incidental or lesser conflicts, a grievance should only be utilized in cases where a player feels that there is a major problem that requires immediate attention or a significant, long-standing problem that can be demonstrated with evidence accumulated over time.
To file a grievance, players must complete the appropriate notecard in the copy of the rulebook that has been distributed in-world; players may also ask a manager for a copy of this notecard. All grievances are kept anonymous and strictly confidential to outside parties; players may not request copies of grievances, and managers may not disclose the names of players who file a grievance or pass any whole or partial copies of a grievance to players who are not involved in the conflict. Additionally, if a verbatim copy of a grievance must be distributed among managers and/or referees, the content of the original copy will be pasted onto a new notecard to hide the name of the author, and any parts of the content which may be used to identify the author will be edited.
Players may file a grievance individually, on behalf of other players, or on behalf of an entire team.
Examples of situations in which the use of a grievance would be warranted, though extremely rare, include:
- A referee or manager takes actions or makes decisions that, over time, appear to suggest a trend of favor or disfavor toward specific players/teams.
- A referee makes calls during games that are not protected by caveat and show an egregious or consistently poor understanding of league rules.
- A referee or manager demonstrates behaviors or uses language that acts contrary to league rules or the code of conduct, either in one major incident or through several lesser incidents.
- A referee/manager shows behaviors over time that raise concerns over their ability to competently perform their duties (e.g., poor communication/lack of communication with players, inattentiveness during games, etc.).
- Cases of blatant, demonstrable favoritism or misconduct on behalf of a manager or referee.
To help prevent the misuse of grievances and ensure that they are utilized only for the most serious cases, any outright, unfounded accusations of bias toward referees, managers or the commissioner, as well as the use of language that acts contrary to the league rules and code of conduct, may leave players subject to supplementary discipline; in this regard, grievances are no different from other forms of communication, and players are therefore advised to select their words carefully if they choose to file one. Similarly, any attempt to falsify information or evidence will lead to supplemental discipline as deemed appropriate. Managers and referees, however, may not take any sort of retaliatory action against a player or team for the mere act of filing a grievance, regardless of target or purpose.
When a grievance is first received, the manager that it is given to will read through its content to determine what the issue is, who it is directed toward, and whether or not the issue is valid while also determining if the author has breached any conduct rules. In determining the validity of a grievance, several managers may need to work together if deemed necessary, and they may also contact the author of the grievance for further discussion or to seek additional information.
If a grievance is deemed valid, then it is passed along to the commissioner and to the referee or manager that is under scrutiny, in paraphrased or verbatim form, or both if required. At this stage of discussion, different actions may be taken depending on the nature of the grievance, and the specific outcome will vary on a case-by-case basis. In almost all cases, a valid grievance will drive the league and/or its officials toward a change of some form, ranging from an improvement in the behavior or habits of an individual referee or manager, to a shift in responsibilities or dismissal of a referee/manager, to a general change in the way that management reaches its decisions.
Grievances that are filed regarding a particular referee should be sent to the referee manager; any grievances that are filed regarding a specific manager should be given to the commissioner. A grievance that is filed regarding the commissioner should be given to any other manager.
If a serious conflict emerges that directly changes the outcome of a game in favor of one team, then teams are given the option to file a formal complaint by way of a game protest. Generally speaking, a game protest will lead to a review of the game in question, as well as the incidents that allegedly caused the game to change, and will be deemed valid or invalid by management based on the information provided, with the final decision left to the commissioner.
In the event that the outcome of a game is drastically affected by referee negligence or favoritism, serious errors in judgment or interpretation of rules on behalf of a referee, outside circumstances that significantly impacted a game, or by the way in which a game was generally handled, teams may seek to file a protest. If the protest is deemed valid, then the game will be rendered as a no-contest, with all player stats and standings points voided for that game. The game will then be rescheduled and hosted during the grace period at the end of the season.
Teams do not face any consequences for filing an invalid protest, and as with grievances, referees and managers cannot retaliate against a team or its players for the act of filing a protest. However, teams should not protest a game on the basis of a minor mistake that was made by a referee, or for any calls that are protected by caveat. Additionally, a team cannot file a protest for issues related to server-side or sim problems that affect play for all players, for matters related to team performance, or for situations that caused a game to be postponed previously. There must be a direct correlation between an incident or group of incidents, and the conflict that affected the outcome of the game, in order for a protest to be deemed valid.
After reviewing a protest, management may elect to take any additional actions that are deemed necessary to deal with conduct issues during the game, or to prevent future protests from ever occurring.
Game protests may only be filed by team captains on behalf of the entire team. Similar to grievances, a copy of the notecard required to file a game protest can be found in the in-world version of the rulebook, or can be obtained by speaking with a manager. Once completed, this notecard should be sent to the division manager presiding over the team, at which point it is processed in very much the same way that a grievance is. Management will communicate with the captains of both teams, as well as the referee for the game in question; teams must provide as much relevant information as possible that is related to the game and the incidents leading to the protest when making their case.
Protests do not offer the same degree of anonymity or confidentiality that a grievance does; while the content of a game protest may not be shared with other players, management must keep track of the teams and individuals involved in the game to gain an understanding of the situation leading to the protest, and may be required to share information among team captains and referees.
If a team wishes to file a protest, it must complete the notecard and turn it in no later than one (1) full week after the game that it is protesting; once this week passes, a game will no longer be eligible to be protested and its results will remain final.
Conduct rules apply to all parties involved in a game protest. As with all other forms of communication within the league, if there is a breach in conduct, management may apply supplemental discipline if necessary. Players and captains are advised not to speak with the referee presiding over the game, or with members of the opposing team, while a protest is being reviewed in order to prevent the situation from escalating and to keep any other conflicts from emerging.
Games will not be placed in hiatus while a protest is under review; other games in the division, including any games between teams involved in a protest, will continue as scheduled.