The Need for Perspective in the Quidditch Community
The past couple weeks have been filled with all sorts of tension and strife in the Quidditch community. Regions fight amongst themselves about where the regionals should be held. All Hell broke loose when the two finalist bids for World Cup were announced as being in California and Florida. Regions went at each others’ throats, and all sorts of invectives and accusations were hurled at different regions and people.
I will readily admit that I too was caught up in all the hubbub. I was genuinely upset at the “disrespect” I perceived as being shown towards my region and towards my friends in the Quidditch community. However, after having had a few days to cool off and take a step back and look at the bigger picture, I’ve come to realize what the root of all these problems is:
Quidditch as a sport and as a culture has a ton of different variables that make the experience vastly different for different different teams and even for individual players. We as the Quidditch community as a whole have been doing a poor job of acknowledging this variability, which has caused us to lack the proper perspective needed to properly assess and value the differences in viewpoints and opinions throughout the Quidditch world.
Basically, what we are lacking as a whole is empathy. We are so caught up in how any given decision or opinion affects our own little version of what we perceive Quidditch to be, and we completely ignore how it affects everybody else’s individual little Quidditch world. We fail to see how there is more than one “correct” or “right” choice when it comes to making decisions that will affect the Quidditch community.
We need to collectively take a step back and gain some perspective. We need to realize that everybody in the Quidditch community doesn’t have the same experiences, expectations, and hopes when it comes to Quidditch.
Let me give a few examples to illustrate what I mean by needing to gain perspective.
1. I see posts from people lamenting how their practices didn’t go so well, because they only had 10 people show up to them. “If only we had a decent turnout, Quidditch would have been so much better” is a common refrain I read. However, I see things a lot differently from these people. The team I play for, the Utah Crimson Fliers, has been a pretty small team for quite a while. This past Saturday at practice, we had 10 people show up to play. I was just about ready to start doing cartwheels of joy at the sight of having 10 people at practice! I was so used to having only 5 people at practice that the thought of having a 10 person practice was unbelievably exciting to me. We almost had a full scrimmage! This same concept goes for team size at tournaments. Other teams tend to say “We only have 11 players. This sucks, we’re gonna get smoked by the other teams and our players are gonna be so tired.” The Crimson Fliers, on the other hand, would react to that situation by saying “WE HAVE 11 PLAYERS?! OH MY GOSH, I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED! WE HAVE SUBS! I COULD CRY TEARS OF JOY RIGHT NOW! WE’RE GONNA DO AWESOME!” It’s all about perspective. Different experiences give you those different perspectives. Players on Middlebury (for example), have no idea what it’s like to have to constantly play and practice with just the bare minimum of people. Conversely, my teammates and I on the Crimson Fliers have no idea what it’s like to have to fight tooth and nail just to make the team, let alone get any playing time (something that the Middlebury players are all too familiar with). That doesn’t make either us or the Middlebury players better than each other. It just makes us different in that respect, and means we have different perspectives.
2. From an outsider’s perspective, the conflict going on in the Midwest Region over where to hold regionals was quite interesting. Basically, Kansas was pretty upset that the teams in the eastern part of the region were discounting a perfectly good bid for Lawrence, KS on the grounds that it was too far away from the eastern teams. The eastern teams were pretty upset that Kansas wanted to make them travel all the way out to the western part of the region when there was a perfectly good bid in East Lansing, MI. From the perspective of the eastern teams, it didn’t make sense to make the area with the heaviest concentration of teams (the eastern part of the region) travel all the way out to the part of the region furthest away from them, especially when there was a fine bid in East Lansing, close to the eastern teams. However, the perspective of Kansas was quite different. They went out to the eastern part of the region last year for the Midwest Cup, located in Indiana. The eastern teams already got a site convenient to them and inconvenient to Kansas last year, so it only makes sense to switch it around this year. Plus, Kansas is the defending Midwest champs. They already proved themselves on the pitch against the other Midwest teams, so there is absolutely no reason why their bid should have to earn any more respect. They already earned that respect on the pitch. So which side is right? It all depends on your perspective. Personally, I side with Kansas, because I have a similar perspective to them. Like Kansas, Utah is a geographically isolated team that has had quite a bit of success on the pitch. So I agree with Kansas, mainly because I share the same perspective as them. If I played for one of the California teams instead of Utah, I might very well side with the eastern teams, because then my perspective would be similar to that of the eastern teams. Once again, there is no single “correct” perspective.
3. As I look back at the kerfuffle that occurred after California and Florida were announced as the World Cup site finalists, I discovered something quite interesting. You would expect that the most opposition to the California and Florida bids would come from Florida and California, respectively. After all, they each have a bid site ideally located for them, and the opposing bid site is on the extreme other end of the country from each of them. However, that’s not what at all what happened. The most civil dialogue about the California and Florida bids came from each other. They each acknowledged that it would be great for the other if they were to be awarded the bid. There were almost no harsh words exchanged between the Florida and California supporters, and each congratulated the other and wished them well. Why is that? Perspective, that’s why. The teams in the South and the teams in the West have very similar perspectives. Both have been geographically isolated from the major hubs of Quidditch in the US. Both had to travel great distances for last year’s World Cup (the West teams had to get across the entire country, and the South teams had to travel up the entire Eastern Seaboard). Both have some pretty strong teams who have earned a lot of respect on the pitch and who are currently ranked quite high. Both consist of teams who often have to travel large distances just to play Quidditch against other teams. Both are extremely well run (the South has the ultra-efficient Florida Quidditch Conference, and the West has regional director Harrison Homel, possibly the best tournament organizer in the entire Quidditch community). So both teams share a similar perspective. That’s why they’re not mad at each other or trying to tear down each other. I mean, sure, as a Westie I would love to have the Cup a simple 10 hour drive away in Riverside, but I won’t be mad if it gets awarded to Florida. They put together a great bid and they are doing a terrific job growing the sport and excelling in it in Florida. As far as I know, the Floridians feel a similar way about the West. It’s a shared perspective that so readily facilitates that type of mutual respect.
4. The bickering between the Northeast and other regions concerning travel distance and expenses for the next World Cup initially appeared to be a cut and dry issue to me, but I realized later that was only because of my perspective. As the Northeast teams initially complained “That is sooooo far to travel. That’s not fair to us. Plus, where are we gonna come up with all the money to cover those expenses?” I was practically pulsing with anger. From my perspective, that was the rudest and most inappropriate reaction they possibly could have had. It was like a slap in the face to all the time, traveling, and money the teams from other regions have had to expend just to play Quidditch. Almost every tournament I have played in so far (with the exception of the Snow Cup, which was held here in Utah) has required us to travel over 10 hours just to get to, and has cost us each around $150-$200 total for every tournament we attend. So when some individuals from Northeast teams complained about having to travel and their expenses, it sounded to us like what they were really saying was “That’s not fair to make us travel and spend that kind of money. Only the West and other regions should have to put up with that. Not us, we’re above that.” As I’ve seen responses form other Northeasterners, I realized that was not the case. It was merely a case of some Northeasterners not realizing how drastically different their perspective was from the rest of the nation, and thus not realizing that their comments were offensive from the perspective of those from other regions. And I came to realize that I really had no idea how to understand the Northeasterner’s perspective. From their perspective, they helped to create and spread this incredible new sport, Quidditch. Then other regions sprung up and suddenly started altering their beloved creation. Then they started trying to move the World Cup away, the pinnacle of what the Northeasterners had worked so hard to create. Suddenly the other regions weren’t just altering the nature of the sport, but were changing the very logistics required to play it. The whole Quidditch world changed drastically on them, so it’s understandable that they should have some less-than-positive reactions to some of these changes. The perspectives are so drastically different that it’s difficult to understand and empathize with the opposite perspective from your own. I should have realized this sooner, shortly after the Spring Champions Series. The Northeastern teams raved about how it was the best Quidditch event in a few years, and how it reminded them of the “good ole times” while still retaining elements of the current nature of Quidditch that make the sport so great. However, I had several friends who flew out from the West to play on the West team at Champions Series, and they had a very different reaction. They were extremely disappointed and upset, and said the whole thing was a giant waste of all the time and money they had to invest to participate. So, who was correct? Was it the best tournament in a long time, or was it a horrible tournament? Truthfully, the correct answer once again depends on what your perspective is. The Northeasterners and Westies have two very different visions of what Quidditch should be, so both were correct in their evaluation of the Champions Series. Perspective makes a world of difference.
Honestly, what makes Quidditch so great is that it can be so many different things to so many different people. The Quidditch experience is unique to the individual. Unlike older, more established sports, Quidditch is young and ever-changing, and each of us individually is helping to shape what it is and what it will become. So it’s time that we acknowledge that there are countless different perspectives, and respect those different perspectives instead of going at each other’s throats over differences in perspective.
THANK YOU ALAN. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Excellent post and excellent points and basically my entire reaction to the whole debacle of the ridiculous arguing.