Sunday, March 8, 2015

Point-Counterpoint: The Ethics of Forfeiting

Editor's Note: This article was published before the reasons for BCQC's forfeit were publicly known. In light of that situation (specifically BCQC's injuries from the tournament) both Andy and Ryan agree that BCQC was justified in forfeiting to UBC. We regret our rush to judgment, but feel that the conversation we have heard about the role of A and B teams as well as forfeiting are nonetheless worth considering.

Editor’s Note: The following debate is between Senior Editor Andy Marmer and Ryan Sparks. All of this controversy aside, we’d like to congratulate the Boise State Abraxans (BSA) on winning the first Northwest Regional Championship, and Western Washington Wyverns and the University of British Columbia (UBC) on qualifying for USQ World Cup 8.

Andy: British Columbia Quidditch Club (BCQC) forfeited to its A-team UBC with a World Cup spot on the line...everyone's telling me I should be upset, but I'm not. Convince me.

Ryan: Alright. I'll break it up into several different points.
Point 1: Love of the game (aka only forfeit in extreme circumstances.) I firmly believe that a team should only forfeit if their numbers drop to nine or fewer. In my personal experience, I've attended several tournaments with a roster of 12 or fewer people, and never once did we forfeit a match. Hell, just a few weeks ago, I played at the 3rd Annual Dobby Memorial Tournament, and was one of three female players to play two positions. Forfeit under extreme circumstances only.

The main argument for the forfeit was paper-thin.

The points for the forfeit were as follows: planned on sending the A team from the beginning, just wanted to hang out together, didn't want to risk injury.

Andy: I agree with you about only forfeiting in extreme cases, but really the only people they're hurting are themselves. It's an A team vs. a B team. It was both teams’ last game of the day, and frankly if they want they can go play each other in a full match on Wednesday just the same. Split into teams, take your weekday practice and play. It'd be one thing if they were about to play Lone Star Quidditch Club or some other team that was miles away, but this feels like a pretty victimless crime. It's not like the A team forced the B team to forfeit or anything. These two teams are literally located zero miles apart and can play whenever they want. As a program you want to put your best foot forward at World Cup, don't you want your best team and your best players there under your school’s name? It may be bad for the B team, but for the program as a whole isn't ensuring that the A team attends World Cup the best outcome?

Ryan: Sure, they can play whenever they want, but is a World Cup bid on the line during those weekday scrimmages? If the B team pulls off the upset, then you can do what you were probably going to do in the first place, and transfer the best 21 to that World Cup roster. Thanks to USQ Gameplay Department's transfer policy, players can transfer between A and B teams with no problems.

Second, the precedent has been set already for A and B teams to just play each other at tournaments. Bowling Green State University and the Falcon Warriors have played official matches against one another. Austin Quidditch didn't forfeit its match against the University of Texas at Austin in bracket play at World Cup VII. Wizards of Westwood (WoW) didn't pack it in against University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) at the West Regional Championship.

If I were on that B team, I would want to play that A team and at least make it earn its spot at World Cup. It feels like University of British Columbia Quidditch (UBC) was just handed a bid, and that, quite frankly, pisses me off. As it should piss off anybody who loves quidditch for the competitive sport that it is.

Andy: I mean that's largely true but not fully, I'm pretty sure you can make that A-B transfer only once per season. I don't know if UBC-BCQC have done any transfers this year, but that is a possible problem. Beyond that though you're still risking injury. I don't think there's a precedent for an A-B facing each other where the winner goes on to World Cup and the loser is out. If WoW had forfeited to UCLA then WoW would have lost its bid and I know UCLA very highly values both teams in its programs going, and you can't seriously be comparing a non-regional to a regional. At a random tournament the B and A play to both get experience, that's all out the window with a bid on the line.

At this point we have no idea who made the decision to forfeit. If I played for a B team I'd sure as hell want to qualify for World Cup, but we don't know what the motivations were here. Maybe BCQC was made up of players that couldn't attend. As a program you want to send your best players to World Cup.

Ryan: And that's absolutely true. You do want to send your best players. However, as I said, UBC was literally handed a bid without really having to earn its spot. The other 79 teams at the Cup had to earn theirs. And that is where my biggest issue lies, it just seems disrespectful to the sport as a whole for this to happen. And it's not just a Northwest thing, for any of you thinking that I'm just a Northwest hater. I love the Boise State Abraxans, and I'm happy that they won. If any other team in the nation had this happen, I'd be equally pissed.

Andy: I mean it's not like they were handed the bid. They fought their way into the play-in game. The bid was between UBC and BCQC one of those two teams was going to go. UBC won four games to make it that far and went 4-2 before that game. Austin Quidditch is going to World Cup with a 3-16 record this season and went 1-5 at the regional championship, literally its only win was in the qualification game. Let's not pretend that all 80 teams deserved their spot. Or, so I don't look like I'm attacking only the Southwest, Florida Gulf Coast Quidditch (FGCU) is 5-6 this year. It had been to one tournament before its regional championship (at the end of February), it went 3-3 at the regional championship, beat one team that qualified for World Cup (trailing on quaffle points), and it lost three times out-of-range including to a non-qualified team. I get that that is different than forfeiting, but it's not like UBC didn't earn its place throughout the tournament and the season.

Ryan: Look at the scoreline from today's matches. Outside of the matches against the Abraxans, UBC practically skated through the tournament. And as far as countering your point about team records, blame that on USQ allowing so many teams at World Cup. All of those teams earned their places, despite abysmal records.

Andy: Yes, but those games were against the fouth place, sixth place (twice) and seventh place teams, and the fifth place team forfeited in bracket play due to injuries. All you're proving is that the Northwest has a lot of lousy teams and three that might be decent, but no one really knows. Sorry Northwest, I'm not buying into half your teams as national contenders. The only teams that could represent the program and the region well were the three that qualified. Truthfully I'm skeptical of all of the teams, I think that the Swiss Style will treat them well and maybe the best of the bunch (BSA in my opinion) can get a win or two, but it's a disservice to everyone involved if BCQC shows up to World Cup and gets smoked five times.

Ryan: I don't think it'll make a difference whether UBC or BCQC shows up. They'll get smoked either way, especially after this; UBC painted a large target on its back.

Andy: I'm going to be really unpopular in Fort Myers, Florida after this, but do you really think FGCU can take down UBC regardless of the size of the target when both are 0-4 and playing in a game that no one is watching?

Ryan: The problem with that is that there isn't a single elite team in either the South or the Northwest. Nobody is going to care about a match between 0-4 teams besides the players involved. And, I'd give the edge to FGCU based solely on the fact that its played better competition.

Andy: Don't sleep on Florida's Finest; they should be a bracket team. We're getting off topic here though; I guess my point is this seems like a classic case of “no harm no foul.” I just can't figure out who was wronged by any of this. The UBC program at some level made the decision. The players of BCQC were aware of the possibility and may have had a role in the decision, and as you pointed out, most of UBC could have just transferred anyway. No one missed a game since these teams can play each other at any time. The better team is going to World Cup, I think that's clear and isn't that what's best for the sport, to have the best teams competing at World Cup to make sure that everyone that travelled there gets the most bang for their buck? If there are one or two BCQC players who have shown they belong, they can be transferred to UBC. If there's any problem with all of this it's that an A and B team were playing each other with a bid on the line. Just do what Spanish Football does and segregate them by division where two teams that are affiliated can’t be in the same league (of course if that happened the Northwest might not have had enough teams for a legitimate region but that's another story).

Ryan: It all comes down to the disrespect, honestly. People have been fighting to legitimize quidditch for years, and this, as a number of people have said, is a slap in the face to all of those people. If these teams just wanted to go to a tournament together to hang out, please don't have that tournament be a regional championship.

Andy: You say it's disrespectful, but I say it's victimless who does it really harm other than the players themselves and as far as we know, they're ok with it. They went to both qualify, but when that couldn't happen for both, they made the decision that was best for their program and who are we to judge?

Ryan: Reeks of collusion and disrespect and not taking the sport seriously. 

Damn, I'm salty about this.


  1. In water polo, I know teams have been fined (usually $200) for forfeits. Is that a system you would support?

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  3. Wouldn't forfeiting for the reason originally assumed (picking which team goes to WC) be highly illegal by USQ (and, I would think, any respectable sports league) rules?
    "Match-fixing: It is against USQ rules to intentionally fix the outcome of any game, including intentionally throwing a game."
    From USQ website,