Friday, May 20, 2016

QuidditchUK Open Office Hours Summary - 10 March 2016

The Quidditch Post and QuidditchUK (QUK) collaborated on March 10 to hold Open Office Hours, in which members of the community submitted questions to Melanie Piper, president of QUK; James Burnett, vice president of QUK; and Tom Challinor, co-tournament director of British Quidditch Cup (BQC) 2016. It was hosted by the Quidditch Post, who provided commentary and follow-up questions as needed. All responses given are paraphrased by QP UK Editor Ashara Peiris and have been approved by the QUK representatives.

If you would like to watch the office hours in full, you can do so on the Quidditch Post’s YouTube channel here:

QuidditchUK Logo | Credit: QuidditchUK

QP: Would it be possible to encourage the use of official means of communications, rather than simply Facebook messenger, with regards to all aspects of quidditch, not just when contacting people from QUK, but if a team wishes to organise a match or tournament? If contact to only the official Facebook pages for the club or club email is enforced, it means that all people on the committee are aware of when matches are trying to be organised. So many times this year Keele University Quidditch Club have had to say no to matches as unofficial means of contact were used, the person contacted forgot, or the messages were sent with very short notice. If the whole committee is aware, more efficient responses can be given. (I realise this is a fault on both the person organising and the person receiving the message for forgetting!).
QUK: When we need to make direct contact with teams, we will email them. However, there does still need to be a culture shift for clubs to be able to use official channels. We were hoping to have club emails with a QuidditchUK email handle; however, lack of suitable volunteers has prevented this. Now that we have recently hired a webmaster, we are hoping to eventually introduce this. We hope that once these are implemented, they will facilitate easy communication via email.

QP: Has there been any progress in gaining recognition with Sport Scotland after the matter was turned over to QUK last year?
QUK: Sport Scotland was never officially handed over to QuidditchUK by the person previously running this campaign. This is one of the tasks that QUK will try to follow up on shortly.

QP: Update on Sport England recognition?
QUK: The criteria for Sport England recognition have recently changed. As well as having two years worth of financial records of which we already have one year we also need two years of Annual General Meeting (AGM) minutes. We are therefore in the process of organising an AGM to allow us to fulfill this requirement. We will be pre-applying for Sports England membership in 2017, at which point we will have met the criteria.

QP: Why aren’t the Executive Management Team (EMT) minutes being published every week? You write them every week; why can’t you just publish them each week too? Then we get to rejoice in the great work you’re doing.
QUK: Minutes are updated on our website every week and are published with usually no more than two weeks of delay. We generally do not put full social media support behind these due to them not being particularly interesting for the majority of people, and constant social media updates would simply lead to them being tuned out by the community. However, if there is demand for weekly reminders, let us know via email, contact form, or in the general forum, and this can be done.

The minutes of EMT and General Forum meetings are published here:

QP: Could QUK restart the fortnightly/monthly newsletter and send out the minutes and treasurer’s reports alongside that email? Then we get a reliable and regular update of all the stuff you guys are doing straight to our inboxes.
QUK: We would love to bring this back. However, we currently do not have the time to produce this and we are also updating our technical capability to allow us to distribute them via email. If you are interested in helping to produce this material, please volunteer for QuidditchUK.

QP: Can we expect a publication of the finances from the last two seasons? If so, when? If not, why not?
QUK: Our tax year runs from July to June, and our first full season of records will hopefully be released by the end of the year. Here is a brief summary of accounts:
  1. £800 profit from regional championships, which was all invested in BQC.
  2. Movement from PayPal to bank transfers has resulted in savings of £1,000.
  3. Executive bursaries plan scrapped in exchange for Perkbox plan for 36 staff members.
  4. Using professional financial software for budgeting and tracking staff expenditure and costs will help build the groundwork for regional championships next year, so we don’t have to wait for player fees before payments are made.

QP: Can we expect an increase in team and player membership fees next year as the cost of running QuidditchUK inevitably increases year on year as the sport expands?
QUK: Most likely there will be an increase in team and player fees. This has not yet been fully planned, and whilst there is unlikely to be a drastic spike of fees unless there is a tangible benefit for all clubs there will probably be a slight increase in fees to account for increased costs. We expect that the cost of events will plateau before the cost of membership does.

QP: Does QUK have a system to promote quidditch? If so, what is it, and how can we common quidditch folk help out?
QUK: Tom Ffiske is in charge of Public Relations for QuidditchUK, and by contacting various press organisations he has gained significant coverage for the sport. As members of the Sports and Recreation Alliance, we get a lot of marketing. In particular, the divisional meeting helped us expand our network.

In terms of helping out, please volunteer for the Communications Department. If you know anyone working for local news organisations, talk as much as you can about quidditch and put us in contact with them. The more genuine press we receive, the better.

Teams and Gameplay
QP: Will QUK consider implementing a transfer season system to prevent players from moving teams between tournament qualifiers and the tournaments themselves? If so, how many opportunities would there be to transfer once per university term, once per season, only after regional championships, etc?
QUK: It is not something that we want to rush into, though it is very important to get the restrictions correct. For example, if you were to be locked in after regional championships, then it offers simplicity, but may not necessarily be robust. The Teams Department is working on developing a more robust transfer system, i.e. by using transfer windows to reduce the risk of transfers just before big tournaments.

Scarlet Hughes (Teams Director) wants to have a discussion on what features would be important to teams regarding transfer regulations at the next General Forum.

QP: What is QUK’s position on the no-hands snitch handicap? Do they believe that it is potentially dangerous to the snitch runner and should be removed, or will it be in place at BQC and in the future?
QUK: All snitch handicaps will be reviewed in the near future to ensure that they are safe for both the snitches and seekers. Handicaps will remain as they are for BQC, but after this we will be updating the Gameplay Event Requirements & Guidelines with a view to add improvements for next season.

Discussions will occur within the department, and once they have progressed to a certain stage we will be looking for input from the community.

QP: What are you doing to prevent the seeming marginalisation of Assigned Female at Birth (AFAB) players from quidditch, i.e., them not getting as much pitch time, if any? QUK as a community and governing body seems to be inclusive to all other genders except the ones the gender rule was originally put in place to protect.
QUK: The gender rule was in fact put in place not to protect AFAB players, but to protect gender diversity. Look at the wording of the rule (‘the gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender’) and the change from two-minimum to four-maximum and that becomes clear. However, women are still not treated fairly, with many teams only just abiding by the gender rule and women in general being a minority in quidditch teams. We do not want to embrace the idea that there is a fundamental disadvantage to being a woman or AFAB in being a quidditch player, which is an unavoidable insinuation of arguing rules are the problem. QUK are very conscious that women are marginalized in quidditch and I hope it is visible that we are working towards addressing that though we definitely need to do more but the appropriate way to approach this is not related to the rule itself, but rather, for example, through QUK’s partnership with the ‘This Girl Can’ promotion and the first episode of Nights at the Round Table.

QUK’s aim is that we can make the playing field more level for people of all genders by making this a social change and by encouraging female and AFAB players.

QP: Would quidditch benefit from implementing a sex rule rather than a gender rule?  Under this rule players who were AMAB and players who are transgender male would play as male players and likewise for AFAB and transgender female would play as female players. Personally, I think it is great that people are comfortable in their gender, but it could be argued that your gender doesn’t impact your ability to play quidditch. As William Johnson said in the discussion on Sunday, they are genderflux but it doesn’t impact their ability to play quidditch if they feel more masculine on Tuesday or more feminine on Tuesday.
QUK: I think the question is very confused here it’s not clear whether it’s referring to a ‘transgender male’ as a trans man or an AMAB trans woman, but either way a sex-based rule as proposed would be both marginalizing and harmful, and isn’t something QUK will be endorsing. William, in the recent Nights at the Round Table, did indeed say gender does not have an impact upon a player’s quidditch ability, and although I won’t take his comments out of context as he did say he felt his view was very specific to his own situation, it is true that the top athletes in our sport are not divided by gender. There are barriers to women succeeding in sport, including quidditch, that don’t exist for other players; confirmation bias works against them as does a lifetime of being discouraged from competitive sport, but implementing or endorsing a rule based on sex would be patronising to AFAB players and cruel for trans players as quidditch is often the only place where they can feel comfortable with their gender without fear of harm or judgement, and doing so would rob them of a place where they could feel safe.

This rule also would exclude non-binary people and also brings in the pejorative and invasive attitude toward trans athletes in other sports. For many trans athletes, quidditch which doesn’t compartmentalize them by their birth assignments or biochemistry is the only part of their lives where they are at ease in their own identity, don’t have to feel scrutiny for who they are, and don’t have to justify themselves. Introducing a rule based on sex, in which we tell AFAB players that they are worse and subject trans players to face harmful perceptions of gender, from which quidditch should be a safe haven, is a poor way of of dealing with the marginalisation of players. QuidditchUK opposes and will always oppose this principle.

As said in the last answer, this does not mean that there isn’t a problem with gender in quidditch and steps do need to be taken to continually redress imbalances. But it is entirely the wrong approach to do this through confining people based on social impositions and endorsing pre-existing prejudices. We need to work toward supporting a sport where gender doesn’t need to be regulated, not layer on increasingly harmful and complex rules based on pernicious notions such as a binary of sex. Ideally, we must work toward a system in which people from a young age can compete with people of all genders on a fair playing field, using quidditch as an engine for social change and parity so that the quidditch players 10, 15, 20 years hence who have grown up with the sport on equal footing will not need minimum gender rules to ensure teams are representative. The end goal will be for quidditch to be able to move past the gender rule, due to it becoming obsolete not to develop or expand it.

QP: Any news on coaching workshops?
QUK: We are in the process of planning one or more workshops over the summer depending on feasibility. There will be announcements on this once planning is more complete.

QP: Do you think it would be possible to incorporate an element of practical assessment into the Assistant Referee (AR) qualification process? Would it be possible to take the test as a practical test instead of as a written test, purely due to the fact that one may perform better in game situations than on a theoretical test?
QUK: This season we have been doing our own theory assessments, and have been building up to having practical assessments as these are better tests for new referees. Our first Head Referee test was carried out at Valentines Cup III, and we aim to continue these in the future, with a view to expand these to ARs, Snitch Referees, and snitches.

Any field tests administered will be complementary to the current ClassMarker system. We will need to consider gameplay requirements as to whether both field testing and ClassMarker testing is needed to referee at certain events. We’re happy with the method of field testing that has been developed and are hoping to expand it further over the next season. This will partly depend upon what happens next season and whether we continue to test independently from the IQA or work with them to do testing. The main difficulty, however, is the logistics of organising tests for every referee as at present it would take several weeks to several months before testing referees would be possible.

QP: Would workshops for snitches and referees be a way of certifying in the future?
QUK: This is likely to be the preferable method for certification. However, we would still have the logistical issues of running several workshops over the season, due to how referees and snitches are spread out across the country.

QP: How was ref scheduling for BQC determined? Was it based on merit or just on who was available?
QUK: Elements of both, when possible. The number of teams at tournaments is expanding, and it’s becoming harder to obtain sufficient numbers of non-playing volunteers. We do the best we can using what we have available.

QP: How will reffing on Day Two be decided?
QUK: It is always a challenge to determine who will be available for refereeing, so it is difficult to plan in advance. We will be aiming to put on as strong a referee team as possible. As teams get knocked out, we can be more stringent with who we choose to use. On Day One we are more inclined to accept volunteers with less experience, but on Day Two we will be going through officials to ensure that we have the strongest referees and snitches available.

QP: Will photographers at BQC be apportioned so that each side gets at least some gameplay photos?
QUK: Last BQC we did not have any official staff to take pictures, but between regional championships and BQC we have been hiring volunteers to take pictures. Where possible we will be aiming to have official photos of every team; however, we are still short of volunteers. So whilst we will aim to get as many photos as possible, we cannot guarantee extended coverage of every team.

QP: What incentives will you provide to make full time and event volunteering (e.g tournament director, scheduling manager, etc.) more attractive in future?
QUK: There are a number of advantages to volunteering for QuidditchUK. Firstly you can get more opportunities to meet the rest of the quidditch community. We also get Perkbox for all of our volunteers, which gives our volunteers access to lots of free stuff. You also receive discounts for merchandise, both at BQC and other events. Volunteering also provides great soft benefits such as improving skills and CV-building and you also have the opportunity to build a sport from the ground up. We may be working towards paying travel and accommodation expenses, particularly for non-playing staff. Many people are put off from volunteering because they fear that they do not have enough experience to do it well. To remove this obstacle, we also provide significant assistance, including in depth documentation to our volunteers, to allow them to perform their job to a higher standard.

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