If you cheat and get caught, you pay a thousand bucks to the DCI before you ever get to play again. Fantasy? Not if Sheldon has his way.

The DCI has gotten very serious about cracking down on cheating. Awareness is up; suspensions for getting caught are lengthy. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten serious enough to keep people from trying it. I offer up the recent spate of people getting disqualified in high-profile events as sufficient evidence.

I’ve long been a proponent of making the penalty for getting caught exceed the reward for not getting caught. To this end, I propose the DCI get extremely serious and start handing out fines along with suspensions. I’d set the minimum at $1000 for Pro level events.

There is certainly enough precedent in organized sport. A baseball player who intentionally spikes someone or throws at a hitter can expect to pay for it, and it’s the governing body of the game (the Commissioner’s Office) that levies the fine. Major League Baseball even has someone specifically responsible for discipline (Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson). There’s no reason the DCI can’t do the same.

Suspensions are a short-term fix, and little if any deterrent. When what amounts to more than a year’s salary for many Americans is on the line, not being able to compete for a short period of time isn’t going to stop anyone. Successful cheaters have already made their money; they’ll just go cheat at something else for the length of the suspension, then come back and do it again. The specter of having to pony up a considerable amount of cash before ever competing again, however, is likely to give even the most recalcitrant incorrigible pause. Giving back some of their ill-gotten gains is a powerful incentive to stay clean.

I’m sure there are legal issues involved with the DCI passing out fines. I’m also sure that Hasbro has a host of lawyers who are capable of making sure that it’s all above board.

There are some who will say that giving out fines will net the DCI bad press. Hogwash. The most important players in the game — those 200,000 or so people who played in DCI-sanctioned events in the last year — will see it as justice. The only people who will complain, naturally, are those that have something to lose: Our dirty, rotten target audience. The David Price, et al, of the world (I swear somebody needs to get the guy a white hat) will just stand up and say "huzzah!"

The follow-up question is what to do with the proceeds. Hopefully, the idea will work, and there won’t be too much to worry about. If there is, monies collected could go to help defray the prohibitive cost of running the Pro Tour. It might go to actually paying the Judging staff. As far as I’m concerned, it could be donated to charity. So long as the rats who continue to infest our game either clean up their acts or go away forever, I don’t really care. I just want it to stop. Soon.

And that’s my Final Judgement.

Sheldon K. Menery