Why do we have Penalties?

Every year there are teams that lose points on their score sheets; some of the points lost are called penalties. A penalty is assessed to a team because the team has not followed a rule or guideline as outlined by CCI. A penalty results in a score adjustment.

Penalty Categories

Every problem has its own set of penalties, and the team must be aware of the penalties it could incur in solving its problem. The most common penalties are explained below. In most cases, omission of scored problem requirements carries no penalty except loss of score. No one is allowed to change the value of a penalty category or create penalties that are not listed in the problem or below.

“Spirit of the Problem” Violation (each offense, -­1 to -30 points)

Each problem, under “A. The Problem,” explains what is expected of teams to solve the problem. Each problem has infinite possible solutions. However, each has an underlying objective we call the Spirit of the Problem. If a team circumvents the basic objectives of the problem or violates rules that are not scored and for which there is no specific penalty listed, it will receive a Spirit of the Problem penalty.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct (each offense, -1 to -30 points)

Odyssey of the Mind teaches values such as teamwork, integrity, and respect for others. An Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty will be assessed for the use or portrayal of profanity, nudity, drug use, sexual situations or whatever else may be considered by the judges to be unacceptable behavior as part of the performance or at a competition. This includes the derision of others, including fellow team members. Teams may be penalized for improper behavior in many regards including the behavior of a coach or parent, complaining about another team, misbehavior around campus, etc. Penalties may be assessed retroactively and may be applied to future events.

Missing Membership Sign (­-1 to -­5 points)

To ensure that the judges score the correct team, and to be recognized by the audience, every team must have a membership sign that is readable from a minimum of 25 feet away throughout the presentation of its long-­term solution. If the team fails to provide a sign it may create one while in the Staging Area. If it is not visible part of the time, there is no penalty. The sign must be created by the team. It must show the team’s membership number as it appears on the membership card, and it must show the membership name that appears on the card. The name may be spelled out or abbreviated, as long as the abbreviations are recognizable by the judges. For example, George Washington High School may read George Washington HS or Geo. Washington HS, but GWHS is insufficient. If a membership card contains any other information, such as Team A, Team B, and so on, that must appear on the sign as well, either spelled out or abbreviated, e.g., Tm A. This required information on your membership sign must appear in the language of your tournament host at all times. Any other language that appears on the sign will be considered part of the sign’s decoration. If the membership sign is scored there is no penalty if it is missing other than receiving a score of zero.

The team may add to its membership sign as it wishes, and the sign may change appearance during the presentation; that is, it may rotate, blink, etc. The team may have more than one sign but only one will be the official membership sign that must be visible during the performance and scored if it is listed as a free choice Style category.

Outside Assistance (each offense, -1 to ­-25 points)

Students learn best when they complete tasks on their own, and they develop a sense of pride and increased self­-esteem when they go beyond what is expected. To ensure that team members get the full benefits of participation, and to ensure fairness, team members must design and create all aspects of their problem solution. This includes their membership sign, props, all technical requirements (vehicles, structures, etc.) and costumes. These must either (1) be made by the team members or (2) be put together by the team members from commercially produced parts. If team members are not able to make a solution, prop, costume, or sign that they have designed, or if a coach feels the tools they wish to use to make an item are too dangerous for team members to operate, then the team members must find another way to construct the item or redesign it so they can make it themselves.

Although no one may assist the team members in solving the problem, it is not Outside Assistance to use something that was created by someone who is not on the team — provided that it was not created to help solve the problem in any way. For example, if a school has an “OotM closet” where it keeps materials used from past years, future teams may select and use those items without penalty. If the materials were created by the members of the current team, that is, there are no members from the original roster missing from the current one, they will be considered team-­created. Otherwise, they will be judged as commercially produced. These items, such as props and backdrops, will be considered the same as items found in a thrift shop, school theater department, etc. Any commercially produced kit that is assembled as intended by the manufacturer is not considered team-­created. Using commercially produced kit parts in a way that is different from the intent is considered team-created. Teams must complete the Outside Assistance Form in the Appendix and give it to the Staging Area Judge prior to its performance. They must state whether they had any outside assistance and, if so, the nature of that assistance. The judges will assess an Outside Assistance penalty based on how crucial the assistance was to the solution.

Coaches act as facilitators, but they are not allowed to suggest how a team should solve a problem. They may pose thought-­provoking questions, but they should never hint at a solution. If the team asks for an opinion, the coach should respond, “You decide.” Unless a situation is deemed potentially dangerous, always let the team make the final decisions when developing a solution.

At competition, others are allowed to help the team transport props and other problem materials into the Check-­In and Staging Areas. However, others may not help the team assemble backdrops or anything else, or apply makeup, fix costumes, etc. If they do, the team will receive an Outside Assistance penalty. Outside Assistance penalties are based on the judges’ observations and/or the team’s statements, not on hearsay from others.

Once the team begins working on its long­-term problem solution, if a team member leaves the team for any reason, that person may not be taken off the roster, since he/she contributed to the problem. If a team member is replaced, and it takes the team over the seven member limit, the team will receive an Outside Assistance penalty.

Parents and other supporters may act as tutors or instructors, but they must not make suggestions on how to solve the problem. For example, a parent may teach the members how to sew if they ask, but cannot suggest that they sew and/or design a costume for the team’s solution.

Over Time Limit (­-5 points for every 10 seconds or fraction thereof)

There are two types of time limits to Odyssey of the Mind Long-­Term problems. First is the No Overtime Category. These problems provide 8 minutes for the team to do everything. This includes moving items out of the Staging Area and onto the competition site, setting up sets and props, performing the skit, completing technical requirements, and so on. When 8 minutes expires the Timekeeper will call “time” and all activity will end for that presentation. There is no overtime and no penalty will be assessed.

The second type is the Overtime Category. These problems provide 8 minutes for all activity as well. However, if the performance exceeds 8 minutes the Timekeeper will allow the performance to continue for up to one more minute and, if the team does not finish, will then call “time.” If the team goes overtime it will incur a penalty as described in the problem, but can still be scored normally for anything that occurs in that one-­minute time period.

Each spontaneous problem has its own specific timing system. Sometimes it is one block

of time to solve a problem and other times it is two time periods, one to prepare and one to work for score. Overtime is never allowed in spontaneous. The judge calls “time” at the end of each period and the team must stop, so there are never any penalties for exceeding the time limit.

Over Cost Limit (-1 to -30 points)

If a team exceeds the cost limit, it will be penalized. If a team fails to list any of its items on the Cost Form, the Staging Area Judge will allow them to add the value of those items. If adding the value puts them over the cost limit, judges will assess a penalty.

Each team must give the Staging Area Judge a copy of its completed Cost Form (see Appendix) before it begins its long-­term presentation. The value of materials used must be listed on the form in the currency used by the country where the competition is held. Cost limits are given in United States dollars. Associations will announce their official exchange rates no later than October 15 of that program year. If these are not published, non-­USA teams must use the exchange rate for their country as of October 1 of the program year to determine material values.

Potential Reasons for Discipline

Disciplinary action may be taken against a team in certain situations. This is a decision of the judges and/or Tournament Director. Possible reasons for disciplinary action include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Copyright violation — copying Odyssey of the Mind materials for non­members.
  • Entering teams in competition beyond the number allowed for the membership.
  • Failure to include all names of current team members on the roster, as well as the names of any other members who were on the team at any time during the program year.
  • Entering a team that includes students not permitted by the rules to be on the team.
  • Entering a team in the incorrect division.
  • Having a performance recorded with the intent of using other people’s ideas.
  • Excessive Outside Assistance.
  • Serious or multiple Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties assessed during a competition.
  • Revealing the spontaneous problem in violation of the rules.
  • Coaching misconduct or intentional violation of the rules.
  • Violation of federal, state/provincial or local laws.

Possible Disciplinary Action

Teams and/or individuals will be disciplined according to the type and scope of infraction they commit. In some instances, the team will be given a written warning. This will come from the Tournament Director or the Association Director and be sent to the coach of the team and, if appropriate, the parents of the team members. Some behavior will result in immediate disqualification and removal from the event. This is at the sole discretion of the licensed association and/or representative of the tournament host site. For World Finals, CCI will also have authority to take action regarding inappropriate behavior. Possible disciplinary action includes:

Probation: Specific time period where repeat infractions will lead to automatic suspension and/or denial of participation of a coach, team member, team and/or membership.

Suspension: For a specific time the suspended party may not compete or be associated with a competing team, or a team may perform/participate only as a demonstration in an official tournament. This may be a one-­ to three­-year period. The suspended party may appeal the decision to Creative Competitions, Inc. The suspended party has 15 days to file a written appeal from the time of receipt of a written discipline procedure from the licensed association. The appeal will be presented to CCI and will be reviewed in a timely fashion. CCI’s decision is final.

Denial of membership or participation: A team, coach or team member may be denied participation in the Odyssey of the Mind program for a specific period of time. However, the team, coach or team member will be afforded the opportunity to defend any claims against them.

Disqualification: The team will be disqualified from the competition in which the violation takes place. If the decision to disqualify is made after competition is over, the licensed association, or the competition tribunal, has the right to declare a team ineligible to move to the next competition level and may send another team in its place. This effort should be coordinated through the Association Director.

Spontaneous problems cannot be revealed until the tournament is completed. At that time, team members may discuss the problem with the coaches and non­participating family members. No one may share the information with anyone else until that level of competition is completed around the world. For example, no one can discuss an Association Finals spontaneous problem until the last Association Finals is completed. Violators will be subject to disqualification and/or other disciplinary action taken against the entire team.

Anyone who shares ideas and/or solutions with anyone who is not on their team will be subject to disqualification and/or other disciplinary action taken against the entire team. Those receiving ideas and/or solutions are also subject to penalty. For example, if a team member posts a description of its solution to a chat room, that person’s team will be disqualified or suspended, and those who participate in that chat room must include the incident on their Outside Assistance Form to avoid disqualification.

Penalties for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Spirit of the Problem and Outside Assistance are in each problem. However, Odyssey of the Mind reserves the right to penalize beyond those listed amounts if the situation warrants.