What follows is the first installment of a semi-regular series in which Smythe and SG basically get together and talk shit and perpetuate some gossip. Is it honorable? No. Do we have a good time? Yeah.
Sarah Goad: So thanks to the knowledge of more observant people, I am able to tell you that the executive director position went live on the USQ website on May 15—but when exactly did USQ publicize the job listing, anyway? I feel like it was never really announced by anyone but Benepe in that sort of wink-wink, nudge-nudge way that Obama seems to have adopted directly from him during his last term.
Sources tell me that, as per usual, USQ is dragging its feet with the interview process. I don’t know what anyone else’s number one concern is here, but after the last guy, I’m just thinking the council of supreme overlords might be wise to turn their assessing eye inward. I’m not necessarily saying they should elect a leader from within their harried, nepotistic masses, though actually I am saying that. Anyway, it’d be good to at least give some humane consideration to the people who have applied and been put through to final interviews.
Ryan Smythe: I want the USQ’s handpicked candidate to fight in a WWE-style ladder match for the job. I know almost nothing about the inner workings of the organization, but there’s no way they don’t have a favorite to pick from the inside. USQ should be upfront about it and let an external committee pick the challengers.
SG: I’m all for organized wrestling and the accompanying hysteria and buffoonery, but who would you expect their candidate to fight against, pray tell? Eric Schnier? Swools? Like, what if Swools—inexplicably—is their handpicked candidate. What would that ladder match look like? Be a hot fucking mess and not much fun to watch.
Anyway, I concur regarding the external committee. I think we’ve all suffered through enough general disappointment and “you’ll def receive your player ID and USQ player patch by the end of season, cross our hearts!” This is the tenth season, for crying out loud. Time for some changes.
RS: My top picks for who should run everything have always been Rose Pleuler, Frank Gao, and Kara Levis. If we’re including behind-the-scenes string-pulling, I would add Leeanne Dillman to that list as long as everyone is okay with USQ turning into a front for her dumpling empire.
And honestly, that ladder match could get interesting very quickly. Let’s stick with the Swools scheernario: Option one, she gets tired out due to a barrage of competitors, and USQ is forced to hand over control of the organization to an outside suitor. Option two, she immediately gets dirty (AS ALL WWE-STYLE EVENT COMPETITORS SHOULD), calls in a horde of loyal underlings and overwhelms her opposition.
Either way, we have one hell of a livestream on our hands. Market the event well enough, and USQ can finally get a sponsor who will pay for things other than Howie Day.
SG: Poor Howie. RIP his career, if he did ever have one.
Anyway, your posits for Supreme Dicktator are all well and good, but my choice would be Jackie Ross. Now there’s a lady who knows how to run a tournament with style and a smile. She’s even out in the NW now, she’s practically hand-delivered to their doorstep! Also, she’s got a really cool leg tattoo. I’m all about cool leg tattoos. Similarly, beneath her cheery, wine-drunk charm, I get the feeling Jackie Ross could actually beat the shit out of someone if you crossed her. That’s the sort of person I want running USQ: cute, sweet, efficient with undercurrents of pure, carnal ferocity.
If they’re being smart about things—and indubitably they are not—USQ should be looking to hire someone ASAP. Final interviews, which I hear have not happened yet for some illogical reason, are likely happening in early July. It frankly blows my mind that they didn’t start taking action toward resolving this earlier in the summer. Probably too busy planning new patches.
RS: Okay, I’m going to double down on my earlier statements and change my proposed All-Powerful Leaders.
Ethan Sturm and Amanda Dallas should run USQ. No, it’s not feasible, and no, it won’t happen, but these two fucking killed it last year, and have managed to pull Phoenix from the ashes to create a competent roster in the West.
At the very least, it shouldn’t be one person. This job is fucking insane and doesn’t pay nearly enough to be worth the stress of dealing with us fuckers who play the sport. Like you said, this sport has been around for ten goddamn years. How do we not have a high-level sponsor yet? Ethan and Dallas grabbed Savage for the very first year of their league, so what the hell is stopping USQ from finding someone to pay for a portion of the operating cost?
SG: I hear what you’re saying, and like—I get it, but no. No disrespect meant to Mr. and Mrs. MLQ, but I do not think that media people should be responsible for overseeing the organization, just because media people—I’m talkin’ ‘bout you and me in this, Smythe, too—tend to be interested in observing without taking responsibility. And we’re fucking egotistical. USQ’s ED has to be a symbol for the organization. A talking head, if you will, who works with a board to herd the sheep who staff USQ and who play the sport and expect more from their overlords.
Media is one thing; there’s freedoms within the forum, there’s the ability to create a house for yourself and the rules by which you live in that house. The executive director is gonna move into a house that already has very explicit rules, and they’re gonna have to live by those rules while they work to create change. It’s just a whole different approach to changing the sport and affecting the community. I know I’d hate it; I just don’t think a media-minded person is the right fit for the job. Also, I don’t particularly think Dall liked her time at USQ, which is why she left in the first place.
RS: I beg your pardon. My ego is the size of a junebug, and I have never once shirked responsibility.
I think the person who takes over USQ needs to have a massive fucking ego. They’re taking command of a sport that has somehow lasted ten years, and has a player base to keep it going for the foreseeable future. Once we figure out the proper camera angles to use, we need to have a massive media campaign to get more people interested in watching because it’s beautiful to watch how good some of the players have become.
Middlebury created and drove this sport in its infancy, but there’s no way that original team could even touch one of the top 20 finishers at this year’s nationals. We’re slowly improving how we broadcast games, and, with entertaining announcers, I might even be comfortable sharing the link to livestreams with friends and family.
Whoever takes over USQ needs to understand where we have the ability to go. We need someone who has the ego and drive to push us past where we are today and find a goddamn sponsor. Kedzie Teller found Athlete Ally; why the hell can’t the organization that helped him become the athletic monster he is today do something similar?
SG: I think you’re conflating ego and vision. Those are two very separate attributes, Junebug. I agree that the new ED needs to understand our league’s potential for growth and longevity, but I disagree entirely that ego is a requirement for that kind of understanding.
So, example. I’m an egotistical piece of shit. I also have vision, though somehow that vision extends to things like “I’m going to eat shrimp tacos for dinner” and “I’m going to start a useless quidditch website” rather than “I’m going to apply to be USQ executive director.”
Someone with the right kind of vision, ego notwithstanding in this example, would have applied for USQ ED and would have ideas for the sport’s future. They would be thinking things like “How can we plan for the future and better our involvement with the LGBTQ+ community?” and “How can USQ enable its volunteers, who are tired of being ignored and forgotten about, to care about the organization again?” and “How can USQ support and encourage its referees, who get shat on constantly?” Y’know, basically everything Kevin already said.
Someone like me—a typical egotistical journalist who will always and forever prioritize herself first—would not do a good job at the ED role. And I believe that Dall and Sturm, who are busy with T8M and MLQ and, if the whispers I’ve heard are correct, are at least not traveling to Seattle for final interviews, would not fill those positions sufficiently, either.
RS: To be fair, I’m one of the sheep you’ve herded into your vision of starting a useless website. There’s something to be said about someone getting me to put my head down and blindly follow them into the cloudy future.
At this point, I would like some more transparency from USQ on this process. They have thousands of members in their organization but have yet to make any sort of comment on who their final candidates are. They may be concerned about the public response from those people, but they shouldn’t be. Use that feedback to make an informed decision. Don’t just hire some hotshot who’s going to ditch us in three months without any notice.
SG: Yeah. It’d be nice if USQ would learn from their mistakes and communicate with the community. Until then, us egotists in quidditch media will just have to tut-tut and turn up our noses at them. I’ve a sneaking suspicion that we’ve got something of a wait before they figure out this communication thing entirely, so—Smythe, my friend, it looks like we won’t be out of a job for a good long while.