Friday, August 14, 2015

An Exercise in Nation Building - Quidditch Canada's First Year

By Brian Gallaway

Editor's Note: The following piece originally appeared on Brian's personal blog and is reposted verbatim with permission from the author. We at the Quidditch Post have run articles criticizing Quidditch Canada and we feel it best to give attention to both sides of a nuanced argument. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not represent the IQA, Quidditch Canada, Alberta Ultimate, or the Quidditch Post.

Given recent criticism of Quidditch Canada, I thought it worthwhile to take a big picture view of the organization’s first season.

The locations that were chosen for events, especially Nationals, have been scrutinized by many teams. However, there were a number of good reasons for the selections that QC made:

  1. Feedback from teams. When surveyed, teams were strongly in favour of Nationals taking place before final exams, and were strongly in favour of off-pitch seeking. To achieve these objectives, an outdoor venue in late March or early April was required. Only the west coast has grass fields that can be booked at that time of year, and even then, the facility that was booked had to be persuaded to open early.
  2. Fairness to all teams. Last season, every league team had one event that was easily accessible to them. To attend both Regionals and Nationals, every team would have had to fly once (except for the team which drove over 3300 km). There could not have been a more fair events schedule. It is also fair to all regions to have Nationals rotate through the country, rather than host it in the same area every year.
  3. Development of the sport. With the East already being very developed, placing Nationals in the West was a good move to help kick start their development. Placing the event in the East would’ve only served to widen the already existing gap between the regions. The combination of a Regionals in the prairies and a Nationals in Vancouver exposed a number of new Canadian teams to competitive quidditch.

One goal of any national sporting body is to build a sport that is played from coast to coast, and each event played key a part in achieving this. Hosting Nationals in Vancouver persuaded Victoria to join the organization, and gave three brand new teams (Vipertooths, Clippers, and Whomping Willows) their first taste of championship quidditch. Every western team took part, which would not have happened if it were hosted anywhere outside of Vancouver.

Western Regionals in Moose Jaw provided Winnipeg their only league games against Canadians. Without that experience, Winnipeg doesn’t sign up for Nationals, and their season might have ended in October. The event also brought in players from Regina, which could someday form the basis for a Saskatchewan team. Having two western events allowed many Alberta players to participate, which has led to the addition of a new Alberta league team for the upcoming season. A year ago, there was almost no quidditch at all between BC and Ontario, which would not be acceptable for a legitimate national organization. Now we’re seeing the genesis of a prairie region, thanks in part to the hard work and foresight of QC.

Eastern Regionals in Kingston hardly needs any defence from me. Kingston was the most central location for the region, and the event was very well attended. At the time, it was the largest Quidditch tournament that had been held outside of the USA. This is a great achievement for a first year organization.

There were of course some downsides to this approach. Few teams were willing to make the long trips last year, with the high cost and late notice being factors. There were a much smaller number of nearby teams to attend the western events, which made them less enticing for others to travel to. Many eastern teams considered the season to be basically done after Regionals.

However, the work of this past year creates some exciting opportunities. Future western events should have better attendance, thanks to ongoing growth. With Nationals almost certainly being in the East, the region has two big events to look forward to. There is the possibility to add league teams in new locations, such as Quebec City and Halifax. Imagine a Nationals hosted in the eastern portion of the region (somewhere like Montreal), accessible to all the established eastern teams, an easy drive for any new Quebec teams, and a long but feasible trip for Halifax. Add in a few teams from the West, and we have the largest quidditch tournament in Canadian history, involving all parts of the country.

It would be remarkable progress for quidditch in Canada to go from a small handful of teams playing for the Eastern Canada regional title, to a 20+ team National Championship with teams from coast-to-coast, all in just two years time. This goal is well within reach, if Canadians band together and support Quidditch Canada in their nation building efforts.

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