The Eighth Man

Avoiding Bias in Snitching

As match stakes increase and seekers become more and more talented, unbiased seeking has become one of the major issues of the game. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

As match stakes increase and seekers become more and more talented, unbiased seeking has become one of the major issues of the game. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

We will be publishing guest articles on a semi-regular basis. If you are interested, please contact us at editors@eighthman.com. This submission is from David Moyer, a seeker at the University of Miami; we hope you enjoy it!

Snitching is the single most fun aspect of quidditch. Anyone saying otherwise has never thrown a seeker, climbed a fence, or made a crowd cheer. The goal of this article is to point out a few key points that snitches everywhere could should in the back of their mind while playing. Ideally this will lead to less controversial calls and a better understanding of the position.

When things get competitive, remember these tips. Both teams, the crowd and the referees will respect you after. Go forth and wreak havoc.

Being unbiased in your positioning

This is the most important point in the article, so I put it first. The most important and difficult part about being a snitch is somehow acting unbiased in a match. Positional bias, or spending an unequal amount of time on one side of the field over the other or spending time in vastly different positions on either side, is the most common error associated with snitching.

Regardless of the situation, you must ignore the scoreboard and spend an equal amount of time in the same or similar positions on both sides of the field. A snitch cannot stay on one side of the field just because one team is up by a certain number of points.

Here are a few examples of positional bias in snitching:

-If one team is ahead in points, staying on the other team’s side

-Not spending approximately the same amount of time on each side

-Taking cover behind only one team’s beater

-Running into the other team’s sideline

-If both one seeker is back on the pitch, and the other seeker is off the pitch, going on only the safe side of the pitch

-Not going approximately the same areas on one side that you did the other.
Luckily, fixing this is EASY. Just be conscious of these problems, and try to do the following:

-Regardless of score or location of an off-field seeker, go to both sides equally.

-Do not interact with equipment or people on either team (other than seekers—mess those guys up)

Here is how I would choreograph the idea on-field snitching performance: At first, stay in the middle of the pitch. After seekers come at you for the first time, wait until they go back to their hoops. Work one side of the pitch for a minute, then move to the other side for a minute. Form a sort of spiral-staircase type weave along the middle of the pitch. From there, if you are tough enough to fend off the seekers for five or ten minutes, expand your range to get closer to the hoops ,though I recommend never going further than half distance between midfield and the hoops. Eventually you will be caught.

Use your snitch referees

The referees are your friends. Talk to them. If you notice some overzealous seeker trying to muscle you illegally or flat out tackle you and grab the snitch from your twitching broken body, mention something to the referee. If you notice that a seeker is beat, be vocal about it! Yell out “Beat!”.  Seekers can and will get cards, but only if you say something.

In general, snitch referees tend to be more cautious when talking to seekers and snitches. If you combine the pressure of confirming a game-ending decision with difficult judgment calls, you can see where that tepidness comes from. You won’t be looked down on if you ask a snitch referee to watch a seeker that is breaking a rule over and over again. Ask the referee to give the seeker a warning. They will. Understand that you have the power to talk to a referee, and exercise that right.

Know the rules

Know what seekers can and cannot do to you.

Don’t be a jerk

 Messing with seekers is funny, and should be done with great abundance. Sometimes though, the various pies, nerf guns and umbrellas create bias. Shenanigans are fine, as long as their result is fair to both sides.

There is a written rule to not be biased. There is an unwritten rule to not be a jerk. These suggestions follow in that same spirit. You are well within your rights to do some of the following things, but don’t:

-Move all the balls or equipment around at the beginning of a match. This means kicking them around, switching the positions, or messing with players headbands. As soon as you leave, the referees just roll their eyes and clean up the mess.

-Fall on the ground all the time. If you are going to get caught, get caught. You need to be able to defend yourself while on your feet. Do not punish good seeking by taking the easy way out.

-Pull one seekers headband off but not the other. I recommend not doing it at all, but if you have too, keep it fair.

-Interact with any pieces of equipment that may accidently give one team an advantage if disrupted. This includes knocking all the hoops over or grabbing a bludger.

Be respectful

If there is something wrong with gameplay or a situation, adjust to it, and tell seekers about the adjustment. If a seeker has a potentially dangerous necklace on, tell both seekers to stop, and ask him to remove it. After he gets rid of it and is in the same position, resume play. If there are physical dangers off field such as rocks or ice that you are worried about and the seekers are in pursuit, calmly warn them of the danger. Call the game inactive for a moment until you are safe.

If you are the type of snitch that throws a lot, it may be prudent to warn the seekers that you are pretty physical, so to watch out. Case in point: The snitch Miami’s game against Texas A&M game at last year’s World Cup approached both seekers at the beginning of the match and warned us and the snitch ref that he likes to throw people around, and that he may, as a result, fall to the ground more often than a normal snitch. To compensate for how often he fell, he told us that he would just give a thumbs-up when he was ready. The three seconds to get up were just going to slow the game down.

Train

The only way to train for snitching is by snitching! Inexperienced snitches and seekers are a huge detriment to the game, and teams should be working on their seekers and snitches consistently in practice.

Keep your hips back

The biggest mistake made in snitching is to not keep the snitch ball far away from your body. Remember, the seekers don’t really care about being thrown if they get the snitch. Keep your distance when possible, and if you insist on throws, do not bring the snitch in close. Keep your hips back.

Put away the gimmicks

In highly competitive matches, gimmicks should not be used. There is a difference between gimmicks and spectacle. Spectacle entails putting on a show: working the crowd by yelling, dancing or taunting seekers. This is fine as it does not interfere with gameplay.  Gimmicks involve the use of props such as silly string, nerf swords or sticks. And they can be okay, but more often than not they are misused. They’re fine to start out with to put on a show, but first and foremost they serve as distractions to the snitch.

Unless you are confident that you will discard any sort of props fast enough, and in a safe location, I highly recommend not using them. The major problems with gimmicks come with not using them on both seekers, discarding props in the middle of the field, letting them distract you, and harming seekers or other players with them. Frankly, it is easier to discard the idea entirely in competitive matches.

If you insist on using them, please be safe and smart.  Remember to be unbiased to both seekers with your use of props. If you cannot influence both seekers with them, come up with something new.

Harry Greenhouse, Luke Changet, Bryan Bae and Tad Walters contributed to this article.

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.