The Anatomy of Being Upset

By Ryan Smythe

Chris Seto is a pretty smart guy. Terrible at fueling internet trash fires, but a pretty smart guy.

See, the West Region was having a grand old time complaining about the Stay and Play Housing prices for West Regionals in Peoria, AZ. Quick refresher:

West Regionals Price: $177-$189/night

Average for Everyone Else*: $108.4/night

*South, Southwest and Northwest only

Remember the last time the West got mad about how much it would cost them to go to a USQ-run tournament, when we found out we were flying back to Florida what, four months ago? Fun times. It’s almost like a decade of tournaments on the east coast – no, the West wasn’t involved in all of them, but the point stands – has worn the coast’s patience thin, and finding out that we’re paying nearly double what other teams in the United States need to for Regionals is yet another reminder that USQ isn’t really all that worried about keeping us happy. Oh, and we still don’t have a Regional Coordinator.

Back to Seto being a pretty smart guy.

We’ve all known that the people running USQ are pretty damn hard to get in touch with. FBI reached out to USQ Executive Director Sarah Woolsey after we learned that Nationals would be going back to Kissimmee, and were directed to her email address as the best place to ask our questions. “Hi Ryan, please feel free to send me questions! Email is best for me: sarah.woolsey@usquidditch.org,” she said via Facebook Messenger on August 29.

Complete radio silence since then, even after a follow-up message on September 8 inquiring about whether or not she had a chance to read the email.

Seto chose to air his grievances in a public forum in the midst of an increasingly popular conversation. This way, the eyes of the quidditch community would know to pay attention to his well-formed, constructive reasoning followed up with an elegantly blunt call to action. “For once, I’d like to see USQ be proactive in addressing the concerns and needs of their members instead of extending a hollow olive branch after providing subpar services.” Until we hear back from USQ, we won’t know whether or not the contingency fund he asked about actually exists.

In stark contrast to what we’ve come to expect from USQ, Seto followed up. Within minutes, he tagged USQ Events Director Mary Kimball in a second comment thanking her for taking the time to listen to complaints about a USQ event. While I’m very much in favor of Steve DiCarlo’s option of staying in hotels that cost $47-$74 per night, Seto set up the chance for future change, or at the very least a little bit of financial assistance from the organization we all pay $60 or more to each year – a $10 increase from last year’s membership costs, complete with no membership IDs or patches!

Long Beach Funky Quaffles_2

Quick side note – subtract the cost of membership from the average nightly cost of these hotels, and the West comes pretty damn close to breaking even with the rest of the regions. Also I needed to add another picture to this article so I chose the LBFQ because they’re delightful people. Carry on. Photo credit: Ryan Park.

The important question is how could it possibly be so difficult for USQ to secure a location to play a regional tournament that they need to force the West to pay so much for housing? UCLA hosted a fantastic regionals last year, and through some simple coordination could easily host another tournament this year, and the year after. Hell, if it’s so important to switch locations every year I’m sure that Arizona State University, Utah State University and San Jose State University could easily step up and offer some field space. What the hell does Peioria, AZ offer that one of these other locations doesn’t? Maybe they won’t offer the same shiny “package,” but all that the players really want from a regional tournament is a safe place to play, enough water to drink and the right space to throw an after party.

ASU Quidditch

Something tells me that ASU could hold a pretty swell afterparty. Photo credit: ASU Quidditch.

If USQ needs some help taking care of the local legwork, they always have their crew of volunteers ready to go. Even if those volunteers don’t live in the cities in question, they certainly have a contacts list filled with trustworthy people that do, and even a few that currently attend the schools that could offer the requisite field space. Kym Couch, Martin Pyne and Michael Clark-Polner handled the angry commenters on the Facebook thread, there are better ways to utilize their time and efforts.

­­USQ can’t rely on their volunteers to handle fires as they come up. This is more than overburdening and undercompensating the great people who donate their time and knowledge to keep this sport functioning – the senior and paid employees of this organization need to step up and lead the way in these situations. At the very least, they need to give a clear indication that things will improve now, or at the very least in the near future. If they can’t figure out how to manage the funds and responsibilities the playing populace entrusts them with, what’s to stop us from stepping up and challenging them directly?

Special thanks to Mitch Hatfield for being a pretty swell guy.

In case anyone has a more direct way to get in touch with Sarah Woolsey, my email to her in full:

Hello Sarah,

To put it right out there, I’m furious that we’re going back to Kissimmee again. I got heat stroke last time along with two of my teammates, and a friend got such a bad sunburn that doctors were worried he would get cancer the next time he walked in the sun.

But I’m not mad at USQ, or you. I’m mad that Kissimmee’s bid was so much better than anyone else’s. As long as they really have the water situation figured out, then everyone should look forward to a tournament at a fantastic facility. Most importantly, no more fucking turf. I hate turf. Turf is the worst. The grass in Kissimmee was lovely.

My questions are:

What were your thoughts when you looked at all of the bids? Were you more excited that USQ was offered as good of a package that Kissimmee offered, or were you more disappointed that you had to select a 10th consecutive east coast venue?

Do you have any plans in place regarding securing better bids for next season? Why not look at locations that offered amazing regionals, like Seattle, and pitch Nationals to them?

What is USQ is planning to do this year to facilitate the teams who will likely lose players due to high travel costs? How will you ensure that we get 60 of the best teams in the country to arrive in Florida with enough of a roster to pose a challenge to anyone they match up with?

What’s your favorite color?

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