|Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff|
The IQA needs more refs and snitches. Although we still have a solid base of both refs and snitches, it's not enough to fill out most major tournaments and run successful regional championships. Let's start with reffing. Numbers are way down from last year, and to have functioning tournaments, the RDT needed to do something. Why? Because the $12 and desire to make a difference wasn't enough anymore to get enough people to don the zebra stripes. At some tournaments, referees were overworked. If they weren't playing, they were head reffing, and if they weren't head reffing, they would be called upon to snitch or goal ref. Players who were refs lost valuable time with their teams. As Luke Changet put it on his blog, the Quidditch Elitist, "Maybe the bad started to outweigh the good."
|Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff|
Requiring each team to supply refs might have been the only solution, and thank you to the RDT for saving regionals, but it's not a sustainable solution for the long term. This is because a large majority of the people teams will be supplying are players on that team. The level of competition is going up in quidditch. Gameplay is getting more intense and more tiring. Teams are hitting more and harder than ever and the speeds at which quidditch is played sometimes is insane. Four or five games in a day is getting increasingly difficult. In between games, players need all the rest they can get. Heavy hitters need time for their bodies to recover. In hot weather, players need to cool down and drink water. They shouldn't be running around another field, snitching or officiating. If players do not get time to rest, they are being put in serious danger.
Snitching is an issue as well. Like reffing, there's a handful of great, dedicated snitches that are preventing this from becoming a catastrophe. However, to fill out the snitching schedule of a tournament, players are often asked to snitch.
In early season tournaments, there have many complaints of snitches who are also players, that try to save energy for their own games. They don't give 100% snitching and are caught relatively quickly. This is entirely understandable, but not good. Game length is being sacrificed and it's not fair for the players in the game if the snitch is giving 50%.
Players who snitch with their all and try really hard not to get caught, pay for it in their teams' next games. They give 100%, last a normal length, but walk away very tired. When it's time for their own team to play, they are not at 100% due to bruises, cramps or fatigue, and their team pays for it. Game quality is being sacrificed.
So, something has to be done. If quidditch ever hopes to be a spectator sport, refs and snitches can't be players also. It's dangerous. Game length and quality are being sacrificed. So what's the answer? Tournament Directors need to aggressively recruit people who are not playing to ref and snitch. Also, in my opinion, it is not too early to think about training refs and/or snitches that aren't already involved in quidditch. The IQA should think about reaching out to town recreation departments and planning snitch workshops and assistant referee workshops. These workshops could be in the weeks leading up to regionals and run by local players. Money would probably have to be offered for work done at the tournament, but it would be very little. Maybe an extra $2.50 per game to have a few special assistant referees. It would be an investment for the future. Snitches would need more training and larger paychecks, but maybe after a practicing with a local team for a few weeks, they would be ready for at least consolation games.
Players can't go on with the burden of working games at tournaments if the level of gameplay is going to keep increasing at the rate it currently is. Recruiting outsiders to snitch and assistant ref is a sustainable option for the future of quidditch. Although this will be a very gradual process, maybe soon we will have head referees and championship game snitches that do not play on a team. Bringing new people to quidditch at the same time, we would be jumping out of our little cocoon. The cost of a referee and snitch crew would go up, but going outside of the "quidditch community" to recruit refs and snitches would attract attention. Attention to quidditch brings spectators to tournaments. Spectators become fans. Fans pay money. Teach new people how to ref and snitch and eventually (it'll be a bumpy road) our ref and snitch problem will be fixed for good.