The Eighth Man

Thoughts on the Rules Survey

 

Credit: Lauren Carter

Credit: Lauren Carter

 

Keep Seekers on the Sidelines

 

By allowing the seekers to interact in play during the seeker floor, we create a system where, lacking a snitch to pursue, the sole purpose of the seekers would be to sow chaos and confusion. As the seekers cannot make plays on any of the balls in play, nor can they make contact, or force other players to make contact, their only real applicable purpose would be to serve as bludger shields. I believe it’s disadvantageous for our sport, and for the seekers themselves, to put them in a position where they are allowed to have essentially only a trivial involvement in play. Furthermore, the addition of the seekers into normal play for the first 10 minutes does little to benefit play as a whole.

 

-Devin Sandon

 

Reduce the Value of Overtime Snitch Play

 

In fact, it should be droopped to 15.  Honestly, with the rules as they are now, I don’t even understand why chasers and keepers bother taking the field in overtime.  We’ve argued before at the Eighth Man for reducing the value of the snitch in regulation, but in overtime, the argument is even more clear. Taking statistics from Quidditch-Reference, we see that of the 27 official games that went into overtime in our data set, 26 of the games were ultimately decided by the snitch pull, with none ever making it out of snitch range. The one that was not ended  by a snitch grab was won by 10 points after the clock ran out, and that was before timing changes cause the clock to stop during play stoppages, which make overtimes even longer.

 

The lesson?  Pay no attention whatsoever to the quaffle in overtime, especially given how generally short overtime is, and focus all beater attention on seekers.  I saw this hit its logical extreme at a now-vacated game between the Lost Boys and Stanford at Sunshine Bowl.  In breach of normal rules, the snitch was allowed to leave the pitch during overtime and settled about 100 feet away from the pitch itself.  What followed was a game without beaters or seekers on the pitch, as every single beater and bludger was either running towards, at, or on the way back from (after getting beat) the snitch for the entirety of overtime.  The effect was almost comedic, but for a sport trying to look professional, close games being decided by 42% of players, at most, is not a good design.

 

Perhaps even more frightening, of those 27 games that were sent into overtime, 15 of them — 56 percent —  were won by the team that caught the snitch to go into overtime. One would think that the team that had outplayed the other team before overtime should be favored in overtime, maybe deserving of 60 to 65 percent of the victories, but this seems to be not the case: if there’s any bias, it is in the other direction.  Since there’s no real data on it, I’d speculate that double-overtime swings the other way, where seekers are generally irrelevant (though more relevant than quaffle players in the first overtime).  Why not eliminate both problems?  Eliminate double overtime entirely (unless the snitch isn’t caught for all of five minutes), and move the snitch to 15 points.  If not, at least move it to 20.

 

-Kevin Oelze

 

Restarts in the Keeper Zone

 

At present the keeper may pick up the ball and go from wherever on the field the ball is recovered after a goal, this means that if a shot is made from behind the hoop, the keeper could easily pick up the ball at midfield, or further, and be unchallengeable until this point. The current rule has also introduced questions about what steps the opposing team may undertake to prevent such a quick counter attack from occurring. For example, a lot was made of opposing players rolling the ball back towards the hoops after a score in the time leading up to World Cup. The potential new rule produces a far cleaner line of legality, and a better degree of consistency after a goal if the keeper must start the play from their own keeper zone.

 

-Devin Sandon

 

Time to Square up the Field

 

The ovular shape of our playing surface was obviously taken from the Harry Potter movies, where the lines on the ground have more or less no bearing on what is actually going on in the game. Unfortunately, in our sport, the lines do matter to a degree, and not only is the shape pointless, but it’s incredibly annoying. I’m not sure how many of you have ever lined a quidditch pitch, but I had the displeasure of doing so at Northeast Regionals, and not only did each one take more than an hour for a three-man team, but we still messed up constantly, and the lines looked far from good. Because of this, no one actually lines pitches, and many field aren’t even played regulation. At best we get some cones involved, which move the first time play goes into the area.

 

Our sport will lose nothing from having straight end lines. It also leaves the greater possibility that we can have and enforce a secondary hard endline for quaffle play, which would put more of an emphasis on accurate passing as opposed to throwing the ball far behind the hoops and hoping your team gets there first. Plus, no one will ever have to spend over an hour lining a pitch, and not even have success, again.

 

-Ethan Sturm

 

Timeouts are the Lesser of Two Evils

 

Given the shortness of play, and the continuous nature of play in quidditch, I’m generally opposed to the idea of time outs. There have been some viable proposals for how they might function, such as the one made by Steve Dicarlo, and if they were to be legalized we would need a very limited structure for when they may be called. That said, one of the hallmarks of good teams in quidditch is the ability to adapt rapidly to opposing strategies. Perhaps the epitome of this to me is UCLA, who proved at World Cup to be able to adjust to a number of radically different strategies during play. Teams should strive to have this level of adaptability and communication, rather than requiring a stoppage of play and a momentum break to pull themselves together. That said, I would still hold that timeouts are a better solution than a half time, due to the nature of the snitch and the snitch game.

 

-Devin Sandon

 

The Days of Symbols are Numbered

 

When the subject of what numbers should be allowed on jerseys, a lot of the talk seems to center on the legitimizing our sport angle. However, I would argue for only using the digits 0-through-9 on a practicality level. Simply put, sports use these numbers for a reason, and we are getting to that point.

 

First of all, there is refereeing. Referees need to be able to identify players quickly and effectively. That’s enough of a problem when people are using numbers, nevermind an equation that the referee may not even understand. Then there’s the issue of people with such complicated numbers not even listening for them, making the referees life even harder. It is an unnecessary hindrance on what is already one of the most difficult parts of the sport.

 

Then there is the future of stat tracking, which most people agree will be a valuable addition to the analysis of our sport. Numbers as identifiers in stats database need to be easily inputtable, short, and clear. Equations and latin letters do not fit these qualifiers, and will only serve to make the lives of those working to make stats a realistic possibility harder.

 

Complex “numbers” have no tangible benefits for our sport, but hinder things looking to improve it. It’s time to cut our ties with them, and move on.

 

-Ethan Sturm

 

Get Rid of Off-Pitch Seeking

 

I believe that, as time passes, it may be wise to eliminate off-pitch seeking. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most straightforward is that off-pitch catches are almost never a good thing, resulting in an unfortunately short game which is determined not by a combination of a team’s skills, but by a single player’s abilities in isolation. Beyond this, the pull is frequently not the result of any special talent or capacity on the seeker’s part in an off-pitch situation, but is rather often a result of pure randomness. Easy examples of this are pulls while a snitch is breaking cover, or is simply unable to see the seekers in a crowd.

 

In my mind, a quidditch game has two essential phases, gameplay prior to and after the snitches return. A team may be quite competent when the snitch is not on the pitch, but break down entirely upon the snitches return due to an inability to adapt and adjust their bludger strategies. A game which ends before this second phase fails to properly test both teams, and denies them an opportunity to show their capacities fully. Furthermore, the removal of off-pitch seeking allows a greater variety of venues to be suitable for quidditch, and eliminates inconsistencies in game length due to poor cover and the resultant increased potential for off-pitch catches. Consequently, I think it might be quite reasonable to eliminate off pitch seeking in the long run.

 

-Devin Sandon

Keeping Restarts the Same

 

I happen to disagree with Devin’s stance on the keeper zone restart: I think being able to restart the quaffle play from anywhere on the field is a uniquely interesting dynamic of quidditch.  Essentially it forces offenses who pushes forward suicidally to pay a price if they attack from behind the hoops and score.  If the team were to have no defense back, but they happen to shoot the ball far enough that it rolls to midfield, then suddenly there’s no chance of being able to get a fast break.  If that same shot were to, however, end up in the keeper zone, suddenly the keeper would be able to take it the other way on a break.  This makes no sense from a logistical level.  Either play should be completely stopped on a goal, and everyone is allowed to reset, or the keeper should be able to restart from anywhere.

I think of it similarly to blitzing in football.  In football, blitzing extra players can increase your chances of a good outcome such as a sack, just as bringing your entire set of  beaters and chasers forward can increase your chances of scoring a goal, but you are then forced to pay the cost in a weakened defense.

Rather than changing the rules, captains should be teaching their players the rules and what they are allowed to do in every situation.  If all of your players aren’t behind the keeper, nothing should prevent you from stopping these fast breaks.  Have a beater back?  Have him beat the keeper as he approaches the ball and toss it back to the their keeper zone.  Have only a chaser back?  Have him toss the quaffle to the keeper zone as the keeper comes out to get the ball.  If you go all-in on offense and don’t plan how to handle the transition from offense to defense, you deserve to pay the price and allow a free goal.

 

-Kevin Oelze

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