So I have just recovered from an epic weekend in Boston, where I attended what I can honestly say is the best tournament I have been to in three years.
The recurring sentiment expressed by veterans present at the IQA’s Champions Series on April 28th, was that the event felt like “the good ‘ole days” (the peak of which is widely seen as World Cup 2009)… but at the same time it harbored the new, competitive vibe of the IQA, thanks to the highly athletic and experienced teams and players present. The event combined the old and the new in a beautiful, balanced blend that left everyone with a great feeling. It was particularly rewarding to see Emerson come away with a tournament win after many frustrating years, and also inspiring to see Villanova defeat both Boston University and University of Minnesota, who both looked ready to stomp all comers and had an absolutely epic game against one another during early pool play. I also was very grateful to teams traveling from far away, particularly the West allstar team, at such short notice.
The weather was fine, the facilities were excellent, the organization and reffing was strong, the games were exciting, there were no serious or ambulance-requiring injuries, and the various ceremonies and group meetings gave the event a communal atmosphere that kept everyone on good terms with one another.
My hat is off to the Emerson and Boston University teams for hosting, and all of their staff and volunteers, and particularly Allison Gillette who kept everything running. I am extremely confident that World Cup VI will be one of the best World Cups ever organized with Allison as the Gameplay director (along with all of the other new and superb staff we will have on deck for it).
That being said, there was only one issue that occurred a few times, that is really no one’s fault, but still needs a solution:
THE CONTENTIOUS SNITCH GRAB.
It happens time and again - just as the grab is made, perhaps milliseconds before or after, the snitch hits the ground or a bludger hits the seeker, or a combination of the two, with all sorts of other variables, and the snitch ref does not have the best vantage point, and the head ref is busy watching the quaffle, and as a result, a controversial call is made. It might be clear to every spectator on one side of the field that the grab was good, but to the ref’s eyes, the grab was questionable at the very least.
And in this case, the ref has to make her/his best judgement call and make a decision, which will more often than not make at least one team feel a bit cheated. It is very important here that the ref trusts his/her judgement, and at the most, consults with other refs, but does not let audience or players impact their decision. That is the best thing that the ref can do in this situation, and I strongly respect the refs who had to make such decisions on multiple occasions during the tournament.
Quidditch is not alone in this struggle, and the sport does a remarkable job of clean officiating given how young it is. After all, every good sports fan should remember this moment from the 2010 FIFA world cup, when England clearly scored a goal but the ref did not call it as such, and even though cameras captured it, soccer does not allow for instant replay challenges. Considering that quidditch is not quite 7 years old, and soccer is at least 1,300 years old, I’m pretty proud that we have the same problems they do, especially considering that FIFA has so many more resources at its disposal to solve these problems.
However, just because we are young and we’re doing our best doesn’t mean we can’t try - and do - even better. The snitch grab is such a crucial part of the game of quidditch and so often means the difference between victory and defeat in closely matched games, and therefore it should be the first part of officiation that we try to create a failsafe for. Which is why I propose we try to implement an instant-replay for snitch grabs.
There is much to discuss here about whether this is actually executable at present and whether it might create more problems than solutions, but I think the process is rather simple. Before the game starts, the two teams must appoint a camera person, equipped with any manner of video recording device (although we will certainly recommend specific devices), to record the snitch from a sideline position, and to allow the refs to consult the video if they have any doubt about the veracity of their call.
The only question here is whether or not this should remain a tool for the referees, or if teams should be allowed to challenge as well, and if so, what limits should be placed upon team challenges? My personal preference would be to allow the refs to consult in any case they wish… and to give teams a limit - perhaps one challenge per tournament. Otherwise I could foresee a scenario in which uber-competitive teams challenge every snitch grab and significantly delay tournaments AND lead to very anticlimactic victories.
I will be discussing this idea further with the IQA’s gameplay department and assessing what we would need to do to test, develop policy, and implement, but I’d welcome input on this idea or suggestions for best practices - please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I am particularly interested in hearing from official member team captains and players.