Disrespecting opponents will limit your success

by | Dec 12, 2018 | Articles | 0 comments

Every now and then we talk about how to deal with disrespectful players and win, regardless of your opponent’s attitude.

But what about when you’re the disrespectful player? And oftentimes you might not even know when you’re being a jerk to your opponent, especially when you’re in the heat of the game.

“Well why should I care how my opponent feels? Magic is a competitive game.”

This is a totally reasonable way to think. At the end of the day, Magic is just as competitive as football, basketball, soccer or any other sport. Just like those sports, you need to be thick-skinned to play and be successful at Magic.

We won’t get deep into the psychology behind insults and why we choose to disrespect others (if you’re interested though, you can read all about it HERE), but the bottom line is this:

We insult others because of our own insecurities. When playing Magic, we choose to be disrespectful when we want to give ourselves and others the impression that we’re better players, smarter people, etc. It’s a natural defense mechanism, and so many of us do it from time to time in many areas of life.

Some examples of disrespectful behavior include, but are not limited to:

– Intentionally rushing your opponent in order to get them to play faster and make a mistake (e.g., tapping your fingers, heavy sighs, giving your opponent “dirty” looks, “any day now”). NOTE: this is not to be confused with politely asking your opponent to be mindful of time left in the round and to pick up the pace to prevent a draw, or calling over a judge if your opponent is demonstrating excessive slow play.


  • Laughing out loud at your opponent when they make a mistake.
  • General insults, trash talk or sarcastic comments about an opponent’s gameplay.
  • Being a sore loser (yeah – that’s disrespectful too).


If you demonstrate any one of these behaviors, I challenge you to take a good honest look at yourself, because in all likelihood you have some insecurities that are fueling this negative behavior and manifesting themselves in Magic.

And that’s OK. No one is perfect, and none of us are completely devoid of insecurities. But when they’re making you a nasty player, it’s important to recognize and address them.

Because deep down inside, those insecurities are also likely causing you to insult yourself when you make a mistake or don’t reach a certain goal – and that’s when we run into big obstacles.

Is the voice in your head telling you that you’re unworthy, or is it affirming that you have what it takes to win?

I can tell you from personal experience – as someone who has disrespected his opponents and has been disrespected – that if your insecurities are left unchecked long enough, they WILL prevent you from achieving your goals in Magic.

Just as positivity gives life to more positivity, negative thoughts and behavior breed more negativity – which clouds our thinking and causes us to burn out even faster.

Do you think that you might be a disrespectful player? If so:

1) Don’t beat yourself up. Accept who you are and who you’ve been, and commit to change.

2) Focus on your gameplay – not your opponent’s gameplay. Compliment yourself when you play well and don’t dwell on mistakes during the game. If you’re playing against an opponent who you think you’re better than, forget about skill level and focus on playing your best Magic instead.

3) Challenge yourself to stop the negative behavior. By no means is this newsletter meant to make every Magic player a Ned Flanders. In fact, one of the best parts about Magic is how intense and competitive it can be at times.

You don’t have to smile, you don’t have to compliment your opponent or even shake their hand after the match (though you totally should, since these behaviors are easy ways to get you in a positive mindframe).

Just be cool and don’t dis your opponent. You’ll not only put some good karma out into the MTG world, but more importantly, you’ll keep yourself away from the negative behaviors that feed any insecurities, and keep yourself on the fast track to reaching your goals.

It isn’t easy to admit when you have a character flaw, but doing so can open the doors to your biggest goals in the game.

Do right by your opponents, and the multiverse will do right by you.

Thanks for reading!

– Jeff Sheerin, MTG Pro Tutor Scribe

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