World Cup VII and the vicious snitch cycle

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Vicious snitch cycle

Vicious snitch cycle

This weekend past was World Cup VII, and I’m glad to say that McGill Quidditch did us proud. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go myself this year. I’m still nursing a hand injury from the 2013 Canada Cup, so I had to settle for following the games on Twitter.

Of course, quidditch just wouldn’t be quidditch if there weren’t some ongoing controversy about the rules of the sport itself. The sport is only a few years old, after all, and part of the fun is playing a game that hasn’t fully “settled” yet. This time, the debate centres on the issue of whether off-field snitching / seeking should exist.

I have included a tl;dr at the end of this post. Scroll down if you don’t want to read most of this.

The off-field snitch catch

The way that snitching / seeking is currently set up, it is possible (although not very likely if you have a good snitch) for the game to end with an off-field snitch catch. This is an anticlimax, and no one likes it when it does happen, but it’s part of the game, or at least it has always been part of the game so far.

The reason that quidditch exists in the first place

Before we get too far into debating the merits and demerits of the existence of off-field snitching / seeking, I think it’s worth establishing why it is that quidditch exists qua quidditch.

The whole reason for quidditch to exist is because some of us want to play a game that is similar enough to the fantasy sport from Harry Potter that it can be given the same name.

Whenever there is a proposed change to the rules of quidditch, one of the things you have to ask yourself is whether or not the game would even still be quidditch if the change took place. For example, there are, and always have been, certain players of quidditch who have argued that the more fanciful elements of the sport should be eliminated, to make for gameplay that is more like other sports. It’s not unheard-of for some to call for the brooms to be eliminated, for example. The answer to those people is that if they want a game where they throw a ball through a hoop without being on a broom, they should play basketball. Or if they want to play a full-contact sport moving a ball from one side of the field to the other without a broom, they should play rugby.

They argue that good players are leaving quidditch to play other sports because the whimsical elements of the sport are turning them off. It is not a bad thing that those players are leaving. To be blunt, if you don’t want to play quidditch—with some of the quirky and absurd elements inherited from its Harry Potter origins—go play something else. There are lots of options.

(If you disagree with me about this part, please don’t get stuck here. This is not the main part of my argument. I have included it only to try to put the evolution of the sport in perspective a bit. I am NOT making a “we must stay true to the books”-style argument here.)

Snitching is one of the things that makes quidditch unique

Throwing balls into hoops, or scoring a goal in a similar manner can be found in all kinds of different sports. Throwing a ball at other players is not unique to quidditch either.

You know what is unique about quidditch? The combination of these two games, done on brooms, along with the seeker / snitch game (which is unique in itself, and iconic of the sport as a whole).

I defy you to name me another sport that has a component that could be described as “long-distance hide-and-go-seek wrestling.”

The combination of these elements makes the sport interesting to watch, but it’s the whimsical roll-of-the-dice that is the seeker / snitch game that sets it apart. The game is not supposed to be taken entirely seriously. The game is not supposed to be a method for sorting teams into order of ability with perfect reliability. The game is supposed to be competitive, but also ridiculous and fun.

I feel like the people who are calling for the elimination of off-pitch seeking have seriously lost sight of that, and risk destroying the sport’s entire raison d’être.

The vicious snitch cycle

I have attached an image to this post, which I called “The vicious snitch cycle.” Start at the bottom-right, and it goes around in a more-or-less clockwise manner. In this diagram, I describe what I see as the main problems facing snitching. The problem is multi-faceted and cyclical, but it comes down to two main things, which snitching needs for it to “work” within quidditch:

  1. Quidditch needs good snitches who can get back to the field and get caught in entertaining and non-controversial catches most of the time (without compromising their own or others’ safety)
  2. Quidditch needs the good humour and sportsmanship of the other players

The vicious snitch cycle as I have described it has been cycling ever since I started playing quidditch. I first noticed it happening with a bunch of unfortunate off-pitch catches at World Cup IV.

Up until that point, when off-pitch catches happened, the reaction of players was largely, “Yeah it sucks, but that’s how the game goes sometimes!” There was, for the most part, a feeling that snitching was a difficult task to take on, and just because of the nature of the game, the outcome was a bit of a roll of the dice, and that’s exactly what we wanted from snitching—a little bit of the whimsy and magic that we are playing quidditch for in the first place.

After World Cup IV, the sport took a vicious turn toward the de-valuing of snitching: Rather than trusting snitches to up their game, or admitting that the problem was more about the venue for World Cup IV than the snitches, they imposed the seeker floor—a rule that says that seekers must wait a certain number of minutes before even starting to look for the snitch.

Complaining about snitches was thus legitimised by the actions of the IQA. If a game didn’t go the way you liked, you could complain that the snitch was bad. It was a great way to save face, and I admit with shame that I’ve made such complaints myself. This happened in the background of an ongoing upward trend in the competitiveness of quidditch (not a bad thing), as well as a corresponding decline in the sportsmanship, perspective and good humour that was characteristic of the game up until that point (definitely a bad thing).

Unfortunately, sometimes snitches are actually legitimately bad. This might be the case partly because of the under-valuation of the snitch / seeker game. By World Cup V, I can tell you from personal experience that every tournament I went to was short-staffed as far as snitches go. This led to non-snitches being asked to snitch at the last minute, and snitches running out of steam partway through the day because they are pushed too far.

And you can guess what happens when people constantly de-value what snitches do, given that snitching is very difficult (to do properly)—they stop doing it, or they stop doing it well, or they just stop caring. And then, snitching gets worse, players complain, and the cycle starts all over again.

The temptation is to make snitching easier, but unless snitching is difficult, and unless it’s valued by the quidditch community for what it is, it’s just going to get worse. Making the job easier by eliminating off-field snitching will only drive away the snitches who are there because they want a challenge—i.e. the good ones. Not only that, but the diversity of styles of snitching will be adversely affected.

I have assembled a few suggestions on how to make snitching better.

How NOT to fix snitching in quidditch

  • Reduce the scope and difficulty of snitching to the point where it’s fool-proof. The more you do this, the less people will train for it, and the worse snitching will become. You think it’s bad now? Wait until there are no dedicated snitches, and a snitch catch is worth only 10 points. The lower the stakes, the less anyone will care.
  • Think of bad snitching as something that is primarily an injustice to you as a player, rather than something that you are contributing to through complaining and inaction. Complaining about bad snitches is the first step toward having even worse snitches. It doesn’t solve anything. If you have some constructive criticism, go talk to the snitch herself. If you think you can do it better, put some yellows on and prove it. But have the maturity and the perspective to see that sometimes games won’t end the way you want them to.

How to improve snitching in quidditch

  • Individual teams must train snitches along with every other position. They must train athletes who are dedicated snitches only—not “half-snitch, half-chaser,” just “snitch.” I’m not saying there’s no place for hybrid player-snitches, but these should be the exception, not the rule. No matter how you slice it, if you have an athlete training for snitching 100% compared to that same athlete training for snitching 50% of the time, he’ll probably be a better snitch if he’s working toward it 100% of the time, and we should be supporting and encouraging that.
  • Don’t badmouth a snitch, and especially don’t do it behind a snitch’s back. If you want to discuss a snitch’s performance, do it with the snitch, and make the criticism constructive only. This goes double for snitches themselves, and if you catch another player badmouthing a snitch, you give them an earful about how snitches work their butts off, and that it’s a volunteer position. Maybe we could have a player code of conduct or something and this could be in it?
  • Do not ever blame the snitch if you lose a game. Even if the snitch wasn’t 100% on her game at the time she was caught, you should have the maturity to accept that the snitching / seeking aspect of quidditch is in some ways more like a roll of the dice than a foot-race. There’s a stochasticity to it, and that’s a good thing. Within limits, we like the fact that the length of the game is randomised a little bit this way. It’s exciting that a first-time seeker might just get lucky and do something that even an experienced snitch doesn’t anticipate. That’s part of what makes quidditch quidditch.
  • Make the recruitment of snitches to tournaments a high priority. This may mean that tournaments might be cancelled where insufficient snitches are available. We have to be okay with that in the same way that getting a minimum number of refs is essential for a tournament—you can’t have awesome snitches if you treat them as a low priority. It doesn’t work that way. If teams are required to bring a certain number of snitches, there could also be a minimum number of required snitches per team who are snitches only (i.e. not also on an official roster).
  • Choose tournament venues with snitching in mind. Not every field is a good place for quidditch. If there are limited hiding spots, it’s going to be bad news for snitching. You should be able to think of 2-3 good hiding spots per game that you plan to host. There should be a minimum of 2 ways for a snitch to return to the pitch. You should be prepared to admit that your school just might not have the right kind of physical location necessary to host a tournament.
  • Raise the bar on snitching. I know for myself personally, I started snitching partly because I wanted the challenge of something difficult. Make it a challenge. Keep the off-pitch seeking. Only use the seeker floor if the snitch is inexperienced or in the case of a very unfavourable locale.

In the end, we have two choices. We can either trust the quidditch community to step up its game and have the maturity and good humour to have fun, not just in spite of the stochasticity of the snitch game but because of it, or we can pander to the poor sports who will surely cry “it’s not fair” no matter how fool-proof and uninteresting snitching will become under more restrictive rules.


TL;DR

There will always be poor sports who will cry “it wasn’t fair” when they lose, and it’s convenient for them to blame the snitch. The temptation is to make snitching “fool-proof” by decreasing its scope and difficulty. The better way to deal with this problem is to address poor sportsmanship head-on and make snitching a higher priority within the quidditch community (specific suggestions outlined above), because: 1) it’s awesome; 2) it’s unique; 3) it’s an iconic part of the game; 4) the poor sports will complain about snitches no matter how fool-proof and uninteresting snitching becomes.


[Edit 2014-04-09: Added parenthetic paragraph to end of the section entitled, “The reason that quidditch exists in the first place” for clarity, and added tl;dr at the end.]

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2014-4124,
    title = {World Cup VII and the vicious snitch cycle},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2014-04-7,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2014/04/07/world-cup-vii-and-the-vicious-snitch-cycle/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "World Cup VII and the vicious snitch cycle" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 07 Apr 2014. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2014/04/07/world-cup-vii-and-the-vicious-snitch-cycle/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2014, Apr 07). World Cup VII and the vicious snitch cycle [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2014/04/07/world-cup-vii-and-the-vicious-snitch-cycle/


Carrying suspicious-looking quidditch equipment on the metro

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Mark-3-quidditch-hoop-base

Mark-3-quidditch-hoop-base

This morning, I brought two brand new Mark 3 quidditch hoop bases to campus via the métro. The McGill Quidditch Team now has a full set of 6 freestanding quidditch hoops! They are reasonably easy to carry and just the right weight to prevent tipping. They are also made of ABS pipes, joints and couplings, and so they look awfully suspicious.

I’m still working on updating the construction manual so that it reflects the most up-to-date version of the base.

I got off the métro at station Peel and crossed the path of two uniformed police officers. They looked at me, they looked at the mess of ABS pipes in my hands, and they looked up at me again. Although they didn’t say anything, I could tell from their expression that they were thinking something like, “If this guy wasn’t blond with blue eyes, we would totally preemptively arrest him under the brave new anti-terrorism legislation that just passed.”

I just tried to look casual.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2013-3499,
    title = {Carrying suspicious-looking quidditch equipment on the metro},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2013-05-6,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2013/05/06/carrying-suspicious-looking-quidditch-equipment-on-the-metro/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Carrying suspicious-looking quidditch equipment on the metro" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 06 May 2013. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2013/05/06/carrying-suspicious-looking-quidditch-equipment-on-the-metro/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2013, May 06). Carrying suspicious-looking quidditch equipment on the metro [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2013/05/06/carrying-suspicious-looking-quidditch-equipment-on-the-metro/


McGill wins the Canada Cup again—surprise ending this time

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McGill wins the Canada Cup ... again!

McGill wins the Canada Cup … again!

For the second year in a row, McGill University left the Canada Cup as the national champions in the sport of quidditch. For the record, there have only ever been 2 Canada Cups. There were some really intense and close games—ones that were too close to call until the final snitch grab—which made them very exciting to watch.

I went to the Cup this year as one of the golden snitches. This tournament was remarkable for a couple reasons. First off, it was very well organised. I can honestly say that I haven’t been to any tournament that was better-run than this one. The weather was ideal: brisk and sunny. The grounds were perfect for off-field snitching: a million places to hide. It was great. Also, there were about a million snitches, too. Almost every quidditch tournament I’ve been to has been lacking in snitches, and this one had an overabundance.

This was why I felt so honoured to be able to snitch for the consolation match (the match to determine 3rd and 4th place). I didn’t want to snitch the finals, since McGill was playing, and I just don’t want questions like, “did you let the McGill seeker catch you?”

The consolation match ended up going later than the final match, and I enlisted some of my McGill snitch friends to engage in some on-field mischief.

When I came back to the field, the score was 30-0, which meant that the snitch-catch tied the game. It’s sometimes said in quidditch that the only player who’s guaranteed to lose every match is the golden snitch. Tonight I made history, because the only possible exception is that of a tied game: When a game is tied, it goes into overtime in which the snitch does not leave the field, and at the end, the team with the most points wins. Overtime ends after a period of 5 minutes or by a snitch-catch. The five-minutes of overtime came and went, and by the end of it, I hadn’t been caught.

Carleton, the team that won, hoisted me up on their shoulders. I won the game! As the golden snitch! This almost never happens. It was the perfect conclusion to a fantastic tournament: my team won (congrats McGill!) and I won too!

Below is a video of me snitching another game earlier in the day. It’s not as consequential as the consolation match later in the day, but it gives you an idea. :)

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2012-3119,
    title = {McGill wins the Canada Cup again—surprise ending this time},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-11-12,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/12/mcgill-wins-the-canada-cup-again-surprise-ending-this-time/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "McGill wins the Canada Cup again—surprise ending this time" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 12 Nov 2012. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/12/mcgill-wins-the-canada-cup-again-surprise-ending-this-time/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Nov 12). McGill wins the Canada Cup again—surprise ending this time [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/12/mcgill-wins-the-canada-cup-again-surprise-ending-this-time/


Quidditch Summer Games 2012—”Cool Runnings 2: this time it’s quidditch, I guess?”

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2012 Quidditch Summer Games

2012 Quidditch Summer Games

It has been known among quidditch players that there would be an exhibition quidditch tournament at the 2012 Olympics for a long time now—not as a an actual Olympic sport mind you, but rather as a sort of a side-show for the torch ceremony at Oxford. But it was only about a month prior to the event that we found out that it was an option for Canada to field a team.

I'm a beater!

Give me the bludger! You’re off your broom!

The American team had months of advance notice, over 200 nominations for members of their team, and a nice balance of male and female players, so that they wouldn’t have to worry about falling afoul of the gender ratio rule (there must be at least 2 players of another gender on the field at all times). They were ready, and they won first place, and for all their work and preparation, I think they deserved it.

This time I'm the golden snitch!

This time I’m the golden snitch!

Team Canada did pretty well too, given our limitations, if I do say so myself! And for the record, I have called dibs on the rights to the crappy made-for-TV movie about us as the last-minute, underdog quidditch team. Disney could make it! They’d call it “Cool Runnings 2: this time, it’s quidditch, I guess?”

The tournament was divided into two sets of games—regular games and finals. At the end of the first set of regular games, Team Canada was in 2nd place. Unfortunately by that point, the team had sustained several injuries. There were twisted ankles, a nasty bump to the jaw, and a few teammates who were feeling light-headed and sick, probably due to a lack of water and shade on the pitch. This put us in a bad position, going into the finals. We lost the next two games to Australia and France and came in 4th place overall. Our matches were very close and exciting, which (in my mind at least) made up for the disappointment of losing.

I was very proud of Alain, who played as a chaser and, surprisingly, a seeker! His job was to tire out the other team’s seeker until the snitch showed up.

I also got to be the golden snitch for Australia vs France, which was fun. (I brought my snitch stuff just in case, and only found out that I would be doing this the night before.) I hid in the ambulance for most of the game. The Australian seeker said he knew all along that’s where I was, but I’m sceptical. (If he knew, why wouldn’t he have come and got me?) I also met someone who said she was a fan of mine from when I snitched at World Cup V in NYC. (I’ve never had a fan before!)

More than being just a great tournament, it was a great excuse to go on a vacation to the UK. I visited Scotland. Photos to come.

2012 Team Canada - Quidditch

2012 Team Canada – Quidditch

One last thing of note: does anyone know anything about copyright law in Canada? Because apparently Hockey Canada was on the phone with the designer of our jerseys and they expressed that the Canada Quidditch jerseys were a bit too similar to Hockey Canada’s for their liking. I have no expertise in this area, but I feel like the spirit of the law is to prevent people from selling knock-off Hockey Canada jerseys, not to prevent people from creating parodies.

Does anyone who knows what she’s talking about feel like giving her opinion in the comments section?

[Photo credit: Benjamin Carlisle, Bernard Taylor Photo, Oxford Backpackers]

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2012-2939,
    title = {Quidditch Summer Games 2012—”Cool Runnings 2: this time it’s quidditch, I guess?”},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-07-26,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/07/26/quidditch-summer-games-2012-cool-runnings-2-this-time-its-quidditch-i-guess/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Quidditch Summer Games 2012—”Cool Runnings 2: this time it’s quidditch, I guess?”" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 26 Jul 2012. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/07/26/quidditch-summer-games-2012-cool-runnings-2-this-time-its-quidditch-i-guess/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Jul 26). Quidditch Summer Games 2012—”Cool Runnings 2: this time it’s quidditch, I guess?” [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/07/26/quidditch-summer-games-2012-cool-runnings-2-this-time-its-quidditch-i-guess/


The Carlisle-Desroches Quidditch Hoop Construction Manual

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I discovered last week that the Carlisle-Desroches Quidditch Hoop Construction Manual was incorporated into the latest version of the IQA rulebook! Hooray!

We never received any official notice from the IQA—we found out about this when one of my teammates noticed a reference to the design on the IQA site. Anyway, we’re honoured, and this has inspired us to put some more work into it. Also, one of the members of the McGill Quidditch team has asked us to re-think the bases for the hoops this summer.

Hence, we plan to build, test and release the Mark II Carlisle-Desroches Quidditch Hoop over the course of the summer. The new design which will be the same as the original, but with an alternate base that’s probably made of PVC rather than the current bucket-o-concrete. For the record, I like the bucket-o-concrete, but some have raised concerns about safety. They’re afraid that people will hit their heads.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2012-2843,
    title = {The Carlisle-Desroches Quidditch Hoop Construction Manual},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-04-26,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/04/26/the-carlisle-desroches-quidditch-hoop-construction-manual/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "The Carlisle-Desroches Quidditch Hoop Construction Manual" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 26 Apr 2012. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/04/26/the-carlisle-desroches-quidditch-hoop-construction-manual/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Apr 26). The Carlisle-Desroches Quidditch Hoop Construction Manual [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/04/26/the-carlisle-desroches-quidditch-hoop-construction-manual/


Reflexion on Quidditch World Cup V

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McGill Beaters

McGill Beaters

The final results of Quidditch World Cup V were released on Monday of this week. McGill placed 15th! (I have to say I’m proud of our team. Is there any other sport in which McGill University can claim a spot in the top 15 in the world?)

Looking forward to future seasons of Quidditch, there’s something that happened at the World Cup that I would like to have clarified. It’s not the seeker floor controversy, or even the new gender ratio rule that I’d like to discuss. I’m worried about a beater strategy that I saw one particular team use in a number of games at the World Cup.

Here’s a crash course in being a beater, for those of you who are less familiar with the position:

  • A beater’s role is to regulate the flow of the game by “knocking out” players of the opposing team using a bludger
  • There are four beaters on the field at any one time—two from each team
  • There are three bludgers on the field at any one time
  • A beater cannot handle more than one bludger at a time (this means holding a bludger and kicking another one would be illegal)
  • If one team has two bludgers, they cannot guard the third bludger

Here’s what the team was doing. If they had possession of two bludgers, one beater would drop his bludger at his hoops, and the second beater would guard it. The first beater would then try to take the third bludger from the other team, effectively removing a bludger from play. (In fact, I also saw occasions where the second beater kicked the guarded bludger while still holding her own if the other team tried to recover it.)

Bludger-kicking aside, this seemed like a dirty strategy to me. I always thought that the spirit of the third bludger rule is that there should be three bludgers in play at all times, and this sort of tactic flies in the face of that. I’d like to have an authoritative word on whether this is legal or not. The official IQA handbook (v. 5) does not mention this sort of strategy at all, so it might be legal, but then the point of the third bludger rule seems to be that all three bludgers are in play. If this sort of strategy is allowed, it effectively removes beaters from the game, making it an all-chaser game. I’m not sure that anyone would want that.

It would be nice to know whether this is legal—one way or the other—for training purposes as we look forward to World Cup VI. If it is legal, we can start training for teams who use this strategy, and if it’s not, then we can continue to focus on other beater tactics.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2586,
    title = {Reflexion on Quidditch World Cup V},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-12-23,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/12/23/reflexion-on-quidditch-world-cup-v/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Reflexion on Quidditch World Cup V" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 23 Dec 2011. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/12/23/reflexion-on-quidditch-world-cup-v/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Dec 23). Reflexion on Quidditch World Cup V [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/12/23/reflexion-on-quidditch-world-cup-v/


The Quidditch World Cup 2011

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McGill competes at the Quidditch World Cup 2011

McGill Quidditch 2011

McGill Quidditch 2011

There were quite a few highlights for my time as a beater on the McGill team. I feel like our beaters really started to come together as a team this weekend. We had a rough start in our first game, and we were eliminated after we made it into the top 16 (the IQA hasn’t released final rankings yet) but I’m proud of my team and our performance at the World Cup.

I think my favourite game was against “America’s Finest Quidditch Club.” As far as I understand it, by their own admission, “America’s Finest” was formed out of the desire of a number of jocks to beat up Harry Potter nerds.

Brooms up!

Brooms up!

Partly because of their loose grasp of the rules of the game, America’s Finest played a very dirty game. I will not enumerate all the ways I saw them break the rules, but I will tell you that in the end justice was served: we won. We played a clean game and we still beat them.

Je suis le vif d’or

Interviewed as a Snitch

Interviewed as a Snitch

Being a golden snitch at the World Cup was a long-term dream of mine, one that I realised this weekend past at the Quidditch World Cup V in New York City. I had so much fun!

On the first morning, Alex Benepe himself shook my hand and called me “Wings,” on account of the wings on my headband.

Throughout the day, I was interviewed and had my picture taken by different magazines, websites, radio stations, etc. But even more fun than that was when little kids would ask to have their photo taken with me. They were so cute. (“And what house are you in, little boy? … Griffindor? Wow!”)

Golden Snitch at the World Cup

Golden Snitch at the World Cup

It was a very busy weekend. On the Saturday alone, I was officially a part of seven different games—three as a snitch and four as a beater. (As a snitch on my way back to my field, I interfered with quite a few other games unofficially!)

A couple weird things to think about: Because of all those photos I took with those kids, I am in quite a number of people’s Facebook albums as the Golden Snitch now, I’m sure, and I will never be tagged, because those people don’t know me. Also, a surprisingly large number of photos were taken of my rear end.

Good news and bad news

Speaking of my hindquarters, my performance as a snitch at the Canada Cup was recently featured on RelieFtv, a TV station in Ottawa. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the footage they have of me is mainly of me being pantsed by the University of Ottawa seeker.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2472,
    title = {The Quidditch World Cup 2011},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-11-17,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/11/17/the-quidditch-world-cup-2011/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "The Quidditch World Cup 2011" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 17 Nov 2011. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/11/17/the-quidditch-world-cup-2011/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Nov 17). The Quidditch World Cup 2011 [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/11/17/the-quidditch-world-cup-2011/


McGill wins the Canada Cup

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McGill wins the Canada Cup

McGill wins the Canada Cup

This Saturday was an exciting one for me and my teammates. I woke up at 5h15 to leave for Ottawa from the McGill campus by 5h45. It was the day of the first-ever Canada Cup, and I was on the starting lineup for McGill’s quidditch team as a beater.

We did very well on Saturday. You can check out the stats for McGill’s showing at the Canada Cup, which are posted on the IQA website, but here’s the highlights:

  • McGill won the Canada Cup
  • McGill was undefeated at the Canada Cup
  • McGill suffered no hospitalisations at the Canada Cup
  • McGill even provided half the snitches for the Canada Cup

That last point is a matter of some importance, actually. I believe there were six snitches at the Canada Cup, and three of those were McGill students. Because there were so few snitches, this meant that (contrary to tradition) a snitch from McGill had to snitch a game in which McGill was playing. Fortunately (?) in both cases where that happened, McGill didn’t catch the snitch, but the game was a blow-out, in that McGill had an advantage of greater than 30 points (the value of a snitch-catch) by the time the snitch was caught. I say fortunately, because it means that there’s no way that there could be accusations of favouritism on the part of the snitch.

I was a snitch at the first Canada Cup

Je suis le vif d'or

Je suis le vif d'or

On Saturday, I realised a long-time dream of mine: I was the golden snitch for an actual competitive game between schools! I got to snitch two games, in fact. For the rest of the time I was busy beating for McGill. I had so much fun.

I did make a mistake in my first game, though: Minutes before the game, I asked someone where the nearest bathroom was (because I had to go to the bathroom). This was a mistake because I did so within earshot of the seeker.

Less than five minutes in, both seekers had me cornered in a bathroom, but fortunately they knocked me down when they forced the bathroom door open, and so I got a few seconds to run off. I lost them, hid, and came back to the field right on time.

I am the golden snitch

I am the golden snitch

The second game that I snitched went much better. I colluded with the snitch from the other game at the time, and we both got in the car that we drove up from Montréal that morning and locked the doors. We took the car right up beside the quidditch pitch, and I leaned out the window and waved while he honked the horn. We waited for a minute while one more snitch jumped into the back of the car, then drove off into the sunset with the seekers sadly running after us.

The crowd loved it.

Eventually, after we lost them, we drove around campus for 7–8 minutes and then came back to the same parking lot where we started and got out and ran back onto the field.

For this game, the seekers were little people! I felt bad for them whenever I would knock them down or steal their brooms or headbands.

At first, the seeker from Ryerson caught me. Ryerson was so happy—their team had never won a quidditch match before! Alas, the snitch-catch tied the game and it went into sudden-death overtime. That means that game time is extended until a second snitch-catch, and the snitch doesn’t leave the field. U of T caught me the second time around, and they won.

Different personalities

I’ve started noticing that I take on different personalities while playing quidditch, depending on what position I’m playing at the time. When I’m a snitch, I’m mischievous and playful. You can tell, because of the headband-with-wings that I wear.

On the other hand, when I’m beating, I am very aggressive. I yell a lot and I pretend to be very upset about everything.

“Drop it!”

“You’re gone!”

“You’re hit!”

“Get off your broom!”

That sort of thing. Also, when people break the rules, I yell at them too. That way, the other player has a harder time doing the “Oh I didn’t know I was hit!” thing.

Also, sometimes the other player is honestly ignorant of a rule—I screamed my head off at a player who tried to continue to play, having fallen off his broom. I also yelled at a guy who tackled me from the back.

Yelling is one of my favourite parts of quidditch. I love pretending to be really upset about stuff. I try to make it really over-the-top so people realise I’m not actually angry, but sometimes other players don’t get it. I made another beater really angry on Saturday. Oops!

I’m normally a pretty even-keeled person in the rest of my life. I guess quidditch is where I get all my aggression out. :P

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2390,
    title = {McGill wins the Canada Cup},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-10-30,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/10/30/mcgill-wins-the-canada-cup/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "McGill wins the Canada Cup" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 30 Oct 2011. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/10/30/mcgill-wins-the-canada-cup/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Oct 30). McGill wins the Canada Cup [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/10/30/mcgill-wins-the-canada-cup/


First draft of my IQA hoop design contest entry

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An early prototype

An early prototype

Earlier this summer, the quidditch team noticed that the hoops that we’ve been using were flaky at best. The bases for the hoops worked well, but the hoops themselves were, well … hula-hoops duct taped to the tops of ABS pipes.

They would fall over or break easily. The duct tape would lose its stickiness quickly and it became a chore to keep them in working order.

So, we started working on a replacement for the hoops. We wanted something sturdier. After a few tries, we eventually came up with a design that’s simple, modular, portable, affordable and very, very durable.

While we were working on this, weeks ago, I remember having a conversation where I mentioned that the IQA has “official” brooms, quaffles, etc. and that we should apply for this to be the official hoop of the IQA. Then, as if they read our minds, on July 28th, the IQA launched a hoop design contest. I guess I’ll have to brush up on my occlumency.

Here are the prizes for the contest:

  • The best design will be promoted in the IQA handbook as the “official” hoop design and may be used at the World Cup.
  • The designer and her/his team will be always credited as long as that design is used, wherever it is used, and the design of the hoops will be named after the designer.
  • If the IQA chooses to produce and sell this design at an affordable price to teams, the designer’s team will receive a share of the funds raised as long as the design is used.

So a couple days ago we went back to the hardware store to look up the prices and the real-people names for all the component parts of the hoops that we built, and over the past little while I’ve spent a few hours putting together a construction manual for building one of our hoops. I’m pretty proud of it, really.

The IQA contest deadline is August 11th, so there’s still time for revision. I would appreciate any feedback (from the quidditch team especially, but all comments are welcome) regarding the construction manual and its contents before that date. Tell me if you notice any inconsistencies, grammar/spelling mistakes, or any parts of the instructions that aren’t clear. Also, please note any advantages of the design that are not mentioned on the last page.

[Download the construction manual as a PDF file here.]

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2046,
    title = {First draft of my IQA hoop design contest entry},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-08-5,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/05/first-draft-of-my-iqa-hoop-design-contest-entry/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "First draft of my IQA hoop design contest entry" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 05 Aug 2011. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/05/first-draft-of-my-iqa-hoop-design-contest-entry/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Aug 05). First draft of my IQA hoop design contest entry [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/05/first-draft-of-my-iqa-hoop-design-contest-entry/


Summer quidditch photos

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Flying bludger strike

Flying bludger strike

When I tell people that I play quidditch, sometimes I like to say that it only looks like we’re running along the ground with brooms between our legs when muggles watch, but really, we’re flying.

Here are a bunch of photos from this Saturday past.

I’m taking it as my project this week to try to come up with a better way to secure a hula hoop to its base for use in a quidditch game.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1751,
    title = {Summer quidditch photos},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-05-9,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/05/09/summer-quidditch-photos/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Summer quidditch photos" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 09 May 2011. Web. 21 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/05/09/summer-quidditch-photos/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, May 09). Summer quidditch photos [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/05/09/summer-quidditch-photos/


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