This is the beginning of your stereotypical essay about player safety in the appropriately dangerous sport of Quidditch. This is the part where I say that we need to be more careful and that the game can be unsafe. This is the part where I say that things need to be changed and that the sport must evolve before it’s too late. This is the end of your stereotypical essay about player safety in the ridiculously and inherently dangerous sport of Quidditch.
This is where I mean it.
This is beyond your sprained ankles and cut elbows. This is about your head. This is about your brain. This is about something that is undeniably important. This is about something that is criminally overlooked. This is something that everybody needs to care about.
But hardly anybody does.
I think Quidditch is too dangerous.
I can practically see all the adrenaline junkies beating down my door with torches and pitchforks. Ready to tell me that I just don’t get it. That’s Quidditch. But wait, before we pretend that because our game is built off of a magical story that real world physics and consequences don’t apply, let’s just examine for a minute.
Then, I’ll go quietly, I promise.
Most sports are non-contact and because of that, they wear little to no padding. Sure, there are shin guards in soccer and helmets in baseball to pad from the errant fastball or kick; but other than that, they are naked. Defenseless. Yet, it doesn’t matter in sports like basketball because the game isn’t built on an element of collision and power. Now, look at lacrosse and hockey and football. Do you see what these all have in common? One of, if not the biggest, element of those listed games are hitting and tackling an opposing player.
They sure do wear a whole lot of protection, don’t they? Obviously full-field, full-sprint tackles aren’t nearly allowed in Quidditch, but they do after. Except we don’t have the appropriate for… well, anything. Simply put, to play Quidditch is to intentionally put yourself in harm’s way. It is asinine and absurd to believe that this trend will go away.
Concussions are a serious problem in Quidditch and we’re doing absolutely nothing to fix it.
Listen, I’m not saying we need to make Quidditch a non-contact sport, but something has to give here. Snitches are too violent. I understand that to accurately give them as much range and unpredictability and JK Rowling gave them, we must give them most freedoms. However, where do we draw the line?
I’ve been grabbed and thrown at the hands of a Snitch by my neck, tripped and toppled in moves that the world hasn’t seen since Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania in 2003 (pardon my ignorance on the topic, but you follow, no?). In fact, two of my closest friends in the world have nearly had their athletic careers redefined by head injuries. These are injuries that they never had until Quidditch. Is it time to get serious yet?
Take Molly Pietroski, my beloved seeker/chaser/friend this year at Emerson. I don’t even know how many concussions she received this year anymore. After getting trampled by a seeker in the fall, they almost seemed to pile up. As if that wasn’t any worse, she continued to seek and snitch without stopping. Before a game she was snitching at Champions Series, she told me: “I really hope these seekers aren’t too violent, I really can’t get another concussion.”
She played seeker for us later that day.
What about Zach D’Amico? At Champions Series he received an early concussion. Well, no harm, no foul right? Unfortunately later that day, he and Emerson’s captain, Max Blaushild, collided skulls with such force they gave the other a concussion at the same exact time on impact. Doctors told Zach that he should strongly consider sitting out for 4-6 months as his brain rested. Then, at the Southeast Fantasy Tournament this past weekend in Austin, Zach got another double concussion.
Now, he doesn’t know the next time he’ll step on the Quidditch pitch.
Too many concussions equal brain trauma. Brain trauma equals serious repercussions that no amount of winning snitch snatches or victories can heal. The more concussions you get, the easier they become to get. It is time to exhale and look at our sport. It is time to stop being so picky and finicky about specific wordings and get serious about our safety.
I don’t know what the total solution is, but we have to ignite change within the Quidditch Community. We have to. We have no choice, at least the way I see it. Snitches need to have their boundaries more clearly drawn out. If a game ends a little early sometimes, then so be it. Let’s stop sacrificing our future for a nice-looking snitch move in the present.
Personally, and I know the rest of the community would never go for it, I think tackling should be close-to outlawed. While there are some clear discrepancies that would need to be looked at (i.e.: when a runaway train like David Fox or James Hicks is barreling down the field at you with no intentions of stopping) it is something that would benefit the growth and development of this game immensely. You could hand check like one often does in basketball or soccer, but tackling over and over with such speed, force and velocity at such close distances is asking for trouble.
There is a reason why many of our schools refuse to give us funding or support, we are too dangerous. We are a liability. We are a hospital trip waiting to happen. For a sport that is often described and marketed as: “Rougher than Rugby,” the line needs to be drawn.
It needs to be drawn for my safety. It needs to be drawn for yours. For Zach’s. For Molly’s. For future generations. For Quidditch.
This is the end of your article of your stereotypically “un-stereotypical” essay about player safety in Quidditch. These paragraphs and words are begging to be taken seriously. This time, maybe they will.
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