In Response to N.O.’s Open Letter

Nicholas Oughtibridge in Florence 2018. | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

By Mel Müller

Editor’s Note: Mel Müller is one of the two editors-in-chief at QP. They formerly played and coached Lucerne’s quidditch team Pilatus Patronus and are currently national beater coach of Team Switzerland. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Quidditch Post as a whole.

Recently we here at QP got an open letter from one of the IQA’s board trustees, Nicholas Oughtibridge. The letter addresses all IQA members, which, as we have learned in the past, means NGBs National Governing Bodies, and not the actual players or fans, you and I. So if your NGB has not told you about this open letter yet, ask them.

In this open letter, Oughtibridge explains how quidditch is on the road to joining international sports associations, including the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and SportAccord. Now for those who, like me, are wondering, “Wait, do we want that? What are these associations? Do we get perks out of being a member, or does it just mean that we pay more fees? How will those associations deal with our gender equality? Will we get guidelines on how to deal with sexual harassment?” please join me in my research of what those associations actually do, who they are, and whether or not we should even want to join them.

The Global Association of International Sports Federation was known previously as “SportAccord” and costs a yearly fee of 4,000 CHF (roughly $4,000). These fees are in Swiss francs, as the organisation is stationed in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is not an organisation without its problems. Patrick Baumann, previously president of GAISF who has unfortunately recently passed away, stated himself: “This is a big family, and in a big family you always have groupings and power vacuums that someone tries to take advantage of it.” GAISF works closely with IOC, the International Olympic Committee. And yes, this may sound glamorous, an association including big names like FIFA, IIHF, WR, or FIG. Yes, this may sound dazzling. But let us have the conversation about what perks this would give us, and what controversies joining one of these associations would bring our sport. Think how the general public would deal with quidditch and gender, for example. Think what they would have us change to commercialise the sport more. Joining an international sports association means conforming to their statutes and rules. At the same time, it would mean joining associations that are often involved in their own scandals (see Russia and doping), corruption, and in looping back to horrifying events like the sexual assaults of Larry Nassar, associations which, despite having more worked out anti-harassment policies than our very own IQA, have not yet managed to overcome issues as such. I am not against reform, but I do believe it is a choice the community has to think through and make together, and that there are pros and cons to everything, including this.

So Oughtibridge, in his open letter, uses what I and many scientists like to call “a Guilt Trip” (see George K. Simon’s “In Sheep’s Clothing, Courtney Humeny’s “A Qualitative Investigation of a Guilt Trip, or Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That” as examples). In this, he doubts the capability of NGBs to send the IQA their best people to achieve the grand goal of joining these associations.

His solution to this problem, presented not without criticising passive club members who contribute and pay for their memberships and often are the biggest supporters of quidditch clubs, is to guilt NGBs into adopting a new constitution in which there is competition for board seats (because everyone knows that competition is the best way to achieve anything in a capitalist society). Each full member of the IQA has to then nominate at least one trustee. All NGBs who cannot send someone have to then pay a fee without any say in decisions the IQA makes, meaning NGBs who do not have enough manpower, those NGBs who often have one or two people doing the work of 10, are then to be punished with a fee. And you all know those people. The ones who work their asses off, who keep pushing your NGB, those people who are too busy to do all of these things to begin with and then some. Oughtibridge demands a “selfless” sacrifice from those people by joining the IQA.

And here he uses another strategy, which I will gladly call an ultimatum, as that is the definition according to Merriam Webster “a final proposition, condition, or demand; especially: one whose rejection will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other direct action” — a strategy which includes a threat at the end.

Nicholas Oughtibridge in Florence 2018 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

The threat is that Nicholas Oughtibridge shall resign his position from the IQA board of trustees if the quidditch community does not comply. Well, Oughtibridge, I, for one, am not the kind of person who responds well to guilt trips, threats, and other manipulations, and have no need to prove you wrong.

I encourage the quidditch community to consider these associations, to come to QP and write about them, the future of our sport and how they see it, and to not be guilted into overworking yourselves. Sometimes NGBs have limited manpower. Sometimes international associations should ask themselves why that is so, and lend a hand to those countries that do not refuse to, but simply cannot give more, instead of rubbing it in that the US, who are geographically bigger and have had more time to establish themselves in this sport, has the most volunteers and helpers.