Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 2013 Iron Bowl and Quidditch

I know I'm only echoing the rest of the sports world when I say, "that was the craziest end of a game I've ever seen." After screaming "oh my god" repeatedly, jumping up and down, and running over to my neighbor's house, I think I've finally calmed down. Amidst the joy of such a miraculous play and seeing that look on Nick Saban's face, I began to think about quidditch.

1. What is our equivalent of a last second field goal return? What is our equivalent of a buzzer beater or a walk off home run? Is it a snitch catch? No. Something about that is different. In quidditch, we can never have one second left on the clock. We can never have that anticipation of a certain final play. We can never have that fraction of a second where there's no action to consider how unlikely it is for one team to win. That doesn't mean there's never a sense of urgency. Picture a seeker alone with a snitch, grappling, in a World Cup elimination game, an opposing beater turns, sprints towards the seeker, and gets ready to release her bludger at the same instant that the seeker frees his hands to reach for the snitchsock. Now imagine if we could freeze time right there. But that's not possible. While I love the excitement of a snitch catch, it doesn't compare to the end of the Iron Bowl 2013. The closest thing we've had was the controversial last play of Firemercs 2.

2. Can somebody please get these SEC schools playing competitive quidditch? In almost every state in the country, the biggest universities have quidditch teams. Why has a competitive team still not sprouted up at Alabama or Auburn? With football bred into the culture there, quidditch teams from Alabama and Auburn would be really good after a few years. Considering the huge success of other big universities in Florida, Louisiana and Texas, it seems like something should be going on in the Heart of Dixie.

3. Remember how annoying it was when for the second year in a row, Texas and Texas A&M ended up in the same section of the World Cup bracket? Well, being in the SEC is like being in the same section of the bracket with teams from your region every year. Similar to Texas and Texas A&M, many believe that the top two teams in the SEC are the best in the country, but it's almost impossible for them to meet in the championship game.

4. Don't get caught with the wrong personnel on the field. Alabama had a kicker, a holder and nine lineman on the field for the final play. Not one of those players was prepared to chase down a speedy returner. One thing I don't see nearly enough in quidditch is teams substituting to find the right personnel. If I was coaching a team and an opposing player was causing trouble, I'd constantly be thinking 1) what is this player's weakness 2) which player in my lineup can best exploit this weakness. If a coach does not react to an opposing player getting hot with a good substitution, the team could find itself down by 30 points very quickly.

5. Can we have rivalry week in quidditch?! Would it even be that hard? Many rivals are in the same state or even the same city. All it would take is some organization over Facebook and a few teams to get the ball rolling. With regionals at the end of the season in the fall, rivalry week could be around mid March, as a last chance for teams to test themselves before heading off to World Cup. I can imagine obsessively following @IQAScores for scores coming from across the nation. UCLA vs. USC, NAU vs. ASU, Texas vs. Texas A&M, BGSU vs. OSU, Emerson vs. BU, Villanova vs. Maryland, Miami vs. Florida's Finest. It would be so great.

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