Let me preface this with a couple things:
- This is intended to be light-hearted, but not a joke.
- This is something I have been thinking of saying for a while and can no longer hold in.
- If you agree with me, please don’t just think to yourself “yeah!” and then move on. Actively try to change your and other people’s behavior. Be the solution.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Tom Marks and I am the captain and founder of the UCLA Quidditch Team. For those of you who don’t know what UCLA is, I am that nerd with the goggles who flew away like Superman just before the credits of the World Cup IV documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K-xgBpQU84&t=28m29s They tricked me into it, I swear). I have been playing Quidditch since 2009 and wouldn’t give up one day of that for any of the C’s it has most definitely given me in return. Maybe I would give up the day I sprained my thumb real bad, but then again I wouldn’t have been able to tell people what happened for the next month I had to wear a brace. I went with my team to World Cup V this past November and it may have been the best weekend of my life, the jury is still out.
After months of meeting people, making new friends, reading the forums, swapping stories on the Western Region Facebook group, and generally having as much fun off the field as I did on I have come to my conclusion of what is currently wrong with the state of quidditch:
Or, more specifically, the disparity between how quidditch players treat each other on the internet compared to in the real world. I have never met a quidditch player I didn’t like and as such I treat everyone I talk to online as if I was standing in front of them. It literally breaks my heart to see some of the hate that is thrown around on the IQA forums, specifically towards the IQA. Saying it as clearly as I can, every single person who can claim they work for the IQA is a boss who I would trust with my life let alone to organize this game. They are doing an amazing job even if you ignore the fact that they ARE NOT GETTING PAID AND HAVE REAL JOBS TOO. Once upon a dream I volunteered for the IQA until I determined that I would not have the time. What I now know is that the people who make up the IQA now had the same lack of time as me; they just had the balls to get the work done.
I am not saying that their word is law and I will never question my humble and righteous masters, in fact some level of dissent is always good, but I disagree with the way people are voicing this dissent. Simply put, some people (not all) are being dicks. There are most definitely a couple of points where my opinion differs from what the IQA has done, but I don’t just whine about it. I try to voice my thoughts clearly and constructively and work towards change. Directly after the cup I was talking to a friend who is a volunteer for the IQA. I asked what he thought of the IQA forum rage and he said, with a glazed, defeated look on his face “I don’t read the forums anymore. I had to separate myself from the cup because it hurts me to see people react that way to something I love so much” (/misquote). He looked like he had just been dumped, like his car had been stolen, like Edward Norton in Fight Club when he’s first talking to Brad Pitt in the bar. But the thing that got me really upset, was that I was the only one who could see him like this. The people who made him feel this way probably don’t even realize what they did. And it’s not like he can’t take criticism, but the issue is the method in which that criticism is delivered. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbbxA8a_M_s&t=1m56s
This needs it’s own paragraph: Alarmist rants and conspiracy theories have no place in Quidditch conversations. They are counter-productive and rude. Period.
Most of you have probably guessed why I bring this up now and I don’t want to spend too much time on my opinion of the situation. But what Brad Hyatt brings up is a real issue: How do we balance the fun of the game and the competition of the sport. The answer, in my opinion, is strive to be the best at both of them. I bring to you exhibit A: UCLA v. USC in the first round of the bracket; a game that was unexpected, due to the last minute change to “Finals Bracket 2: Electric Boogaloo”, and made me incredibly sad. USC is simultaneously our biggest rival and best quidditch friends. That match was comparable to when Ash had to face Ritchie in the Pokemon League bracket. The fact that we were friends, and that inevitably one of us was out of the tournament right here and now, was a terrible but mutual feeling. Meaning we both regretted it, but that wasn’t going to stop us from playing our hardest (the part where Ash’s Charizard refused to fight is where this analogy breaks down…). The game was incredibly quick scoring getting up to 40 to 30 just 3 minutes in before an illegal UCLA tackle put one of our own players in the hospital bleeding from the head, and left a USC player looking like he had half a golf ball glued to his forehead. It. Was. Wacky. The game even ended on an unarguably lame snitch catch, but when it was over the loser became the winner’s cheering section and the game ended in the largest cinnamon roll hug I have ever seen.
The point am I trying to make is that we CAN keep that fun of the game while playing to win in what is a legitimate intercollegiate sport. The two should not be mutually exclusive! This is the reason I am looking forward to the Western Cup (Dan Hanson is bringing the Mike’s) and this is the reason I respect Middlebury so much as a team. We had the joy of playing them twice, more than anybody else at the cup this year, so if anybody is allowed to make judgments about them I think I am. Middlebury is THE team that others should strive to be like. This cup showed that they may not be the unstoppable force on the pitch that they used to be, but they are still an unstoppable force of smiles and friendliness off the pitch. Seriously, if there was a spray painted “Simply Lemonade” bottle for nicest team, something non-alcoholic seemed more fitting, they would have won it hands down. I would gladly lose to Middlebury and have it end in a game of Ninja, then beat a team that I then never want to talk to again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndwvqZ5-vq0
And I think this is where Andy Armentor’s comment comes from; A fear that the competition is going to make people forget how awesome pre-game hugs are, and a fear that the hugs will dilute the sport that some people, including myself and my team, work really hard at. NEITHER OF THESE THINGS NEED TO HAPPEN. But what needs to happen is for people to strive to be the best at both. That is what makes quidditch great. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tddADL1xdU&t=0m50s We are supposed to be laughing at how ignorant these assholes that Alex Benepe had to deal with are, because we are better than them. Alex brought together this amazing community so we wouldn’t have to deal with that sort of offensive attitude. Our shared experience of being THE one and only Harry Potter generation brings us closer together, and I don’t want us to forget that.
I don’t want to lose how competitive this sport is, because every game we won gave me a sense of such pride that I can’t even describe. But I also don’t want to lose the camaraderie I have with even my biggest rival. I mean come on, even Bugs and Elmer loved each other occasionally! Why can’t we? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2VMqQ6XnmI&t=2m16s If I made back handed comments about the stunning Spencer Gold on the IQA forums, our interaction on the pitch would reflect that. So I think if we can change the attitude of the forum we use to communicate with each other, then the attitude will change on the pitch as well.
Okay, time to stop rambling.
TL:DR We can hold onto how fun the game is without losing it as a competitive sport, but to do this we need to change our attitudes as a community, specifically in how we interact with each other online. When you post something online, think about ALL the people it will affect and then ask yourself if you would want to say that same thing if they were standing right in front of you. If not then change your wording without compromising your meaning. If you have a problem or complaint with something then work with people to make it better, don’t just complain. Being alarmist doesn’t help anything. And lastly, this game is a serious bad ass sport, but don’t forget that you have a flippin broom between your legs. It’s Quidditch! Meet some people. Have fun :D
TL:DR’s TL:DR The first rule of Quidditch is the most important: Don’t be an Asshole.
But above all… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiHJ0EdVY4o