By Bruce Donnelly Due to the youth of our sport, it is almost impossible for a single event to have a 100 percent success rate. Understandably, problems multiply when the scope expands beyond a single event to an entire league’s slated season; undoubtedly, issues will arise when planning and coordinating for such an undertaking. A hiccup or two prevented the inaugural MLQ season from being perfect. That said, it still managed to be an overwhelming success.
One of the major issues that plagues quidditch as a whole–and to which MLQ was not immune to–is a lack of capable, efficient officiating. Beyond the accuracy of calls and the ambiguity of rule interpretation, the major difficulty lies in finding quality volunteers to officiate games. While partnering with the International Referee Development Program (IRDP) and paying all volunteers was a good start, several administrative mistakes this season included hiring a referee off of Craigslist and the decision to allow Detroit Manager Alex Scheer and Cleveland Manager Katie Milligan to referee the series between the Detroit Innovators and the Cleveland Riff. The push for improvement, though, could be felt at the championship tournament, where full teams of referees were available for each game without volunteers from any of the teams. “Quidditch Goes Professional” was an overambitious goal for the first year of MLQ. Players were not paid for their participation but an incredible groundwork was laid to increase professionalism in quidditch. MLQ organizers provided a league-wide, uniform schedule, made every game available for live viewing, and arranged television coverage for the championship series: all steps toward a more professional league. There are several examples of the success of the season, but, as a spectator, it’s hard not to focus on the championship tournament. Even though a few of the tournament’s games ended out of range, every game still felt captivating and largely competitive. It was the final series, however, that brought the whole season to an exciting climax. It might have been a predictable match-up for the final series, but the two games were incredibly interesting. As a New York sports fan, there are few things better to me than good, contested games between New York and Boston, and not only did the finals give me that, but everything about it had the real feel of a classic rivalry between the two cities. Big hits, controversial calls, and great plays were bundled into two snitch range games, so the finals were a perfect metaphor for the first MLQ season. A few moments may have been negative, and some may use these to judge the league’s overall success, but nothing will actually overshadow the great moments that the finals and season contained. Both were competitive, compelling, and impressive, but not without a few issues that give the MLQ the opportunity for improvement next season.