By David Sager
It is safe to assume that most quidditch players, at least those who have had any interaction with the International Quidditch Association (IQA), have been frustrated with it during their playing careers. From the website issue to the proverbial walls the IQA has surrounded itself with in the past, the IQA has given the community a lot to talk about, and not in a good way. The quidditch community took the time to respond to a survey conducted by the IQA to expose the wider feelings and beliefs about the changes necessary for the IQA to become a more legitimate organization. With 305 responses to the survey across the world, each question and answer was analyzed, including long-answer questions which were reviewed by IQA Executive Director Rebecca Alley and Board of Trustees member Luke Nickholds.
One issue was completely clear. The IQA is not as transparent as the community would like them to be, with 24 percent of responses describing the IQA as “opaque” or “untrustworthy.” Another 23 percent of participants described the IQA as “disorganized” and “chaotic”; the few people who did believe the IQA to be well–organized generally had a more shallow experience with the IQA.
So what does the IQA actually need to be transparent with and how can the IQA reorganize itself to become more productive instead of chaotic?
Since late December 2016, when the new Board of Trustees took over, the IQA has claimed to publicaly release the minutes from meetings. The national governing bodies (NGBs) currently have the minutes from the Board of Trustees meetings and Rebecca Alley has stated that the minutes will become public once there is a good place to publish them. The fact remains that the new IQA has touted its transparency, and yet these important documents were unpublished until the launch of the new website. These minutes provide a window into the priorities and actions of the stewards of our international sport, and are an important tool with which to hold the trustees accountable.
In a move to increase transparency, the IQA is attempting to introduce a new platform to discuss issues through “office hours” held via Skype. With this comes a new array of problems – it requires active community participation. Most players I know are more likely to sit at a computer, like I am right now, and complain about issues rather than log into Skype, join the conference call or drop them a message during the office hours, and express their concerns. In addition, it remains to be seen whether the IQA volunteers hosting these office hours will be willing to answer tough questions, questions whose honest answers cannot easily be spun to paint the IQA in a positive light. Is the IQA really secure enough to be transparent on these calls, letting people see the good and the bad?
It is striking that 37 percent of respondents are confused about the responsibilities, function, and role of the IQA, their international governing body. Due to self-selection bias, this probably significantly underestimates the percentage in the wider community. Although 23 percent of responses in a separate question indicated that disorganization was an issue, only 18 percent of participants stated they were confused regarding the IQA’s structure and departments. To decrease confusion and become less arcane, the IQA proposes, in addition to the office hours, that it will send monthly emails (67 percent reported that they prefer email for communication) regarding news and other important information to those who subscribe, increase its social media presence – particularly on Twitter – and, based on the resources available, will work to translate everything possible in order to support the international community.
With regards to the future of the IQA, 36 percent agreed that it should continue to run tournaments (with specific mentions of the World Cup and European Games) and 16 percent would like to see more IQA events in the future. The IQA is currently working on the World Cup 2018 bid package, which is to be released early this month. It is also contacting emerging areas to further promote the sport – as 10 percent indicated it should continue to do and 23 percent said it needed to improve – and developing ways to standardize a rulebook (12 percent indicated that the IQA should continue to develop rulebooks and 14 percent agreed that one rulebook should be used globally). All of this seems like a lot for one developing organization to accomplish, but the IQA hopes to achieve these goals by increasing its volunteer base, creating the human resource needs to achieve many of these goals.
The main goal, for any organization, is to continue development and further legitimize the cause or activity. Most respondents agreed upon three aspects of continued development: 1) the desire for international recognition of a sport (46 percent); 2) for quidditch to be a more globalized sport played in more countries across the continents, (42 percent); and 3) for the IQA to be incorporated, have financial security, and be a stable international sport organization (37 percent). In the coming months, the IQA says it will consider these factors among many others while developing the strategic plan.
As a realist, these are all empty promises I have heard before. Regardless of the promises mentioned, I am both skeptical and hopeful. The IQA seems to be heading in the right direction; however, the group’s infrequent use of social media – especially when the website has apparently been auctioned off – and the general lack of communication between the IQA and the community leads me to cast some doubt toward how constant the rate of change will be (I cannot comment on the Skype office hours since I have yet to attend one). Rome was not built in a day, and this sport did not develop overnight. Change takes time and will be a constant throughout the existence of time; it is inevitable. The potential for the sport and the IQA to continue growing is exponential and unprecedented, but so is the potential for quidditch’s international irrelevance to become permanent. Further neglecting the desires of the community will have drastic consequences for the IQA, and potentially for the sport as a whole. However, if the IQA can achieve all of the goals it has outlined in the Community Survey Report, I see this organization becoming the leading organization in quidditch, in effectiveness as well as in name. The challenges facing our sport existed yesterday, and they will exist tomorrow, but today I find myself looking forward with some optimism to see what changes are made and how this organization succeeds under the new leadership.