December 10, 2016

Letter from the Editors: We stand by our coverage, treatment of Quidditch players not the “Webster way”

PHOTO BY JORDAN PALMER

Photos by Tiffany Gordon

The Journal’s Editor-in-Chief Kavahn Mansouri and Sports Editor Jacob Claspille respond to Webster volleyball player Jory Siebenmorgen’s letter to the editor. In her letter, Siebenmorgen wrote that The Journal’s coverage of Quidditch was a slap in the face to Webster Division III athletes. 

Written by Kavahn Mansouri

It is our belief that a group of students who want to play a sport do not need an organization standing behind them to be mentioned and covered in The Journal. With that, we also believe a sport isn’t defined by an organization standing behind it.

Webster is a special place, with many different personalities and interests. We proudly cover Webster’s official athletic teams year-round, and we’ve done so for years. This year, as a staff, we thought about how we could embrace what Webster is about. That meant covering more sports than the several that are official to the school, and embracing the sports that all Webster students enjoy as well (Quidditch, eSports, chess, etc.).

If you look at our coverage throughout my time as Editor-in-Chief, and our Sports Editor Jacob Claspille’s time in charge of our sports section, you will see that our coverage has almost been entirely on Webster athletics. We, of course, work with a small staff, and cannot cover everything. We would not for a second argue we are a perfect newspaper, but rather that we have limited time to put into each sport. For a time, Jacob was our sole sports writer for the paper. I truly implore you to come help out and help us cover more stories, or pitch us a story about an upcoming sports event or profile piece. We would like to cover all of Webster’s great athletic institutions. But the current reality of the situation is that we can’t do everything. My hope is that we can cover every sport at Webster by the time my tenure as Editor-in-Chief has come to an end.

As for the game coverage you noted: I have, since my first day as Editor-in-Chief, asked for Jacob and my staff to shy away from game coverage. We as a staff have agreed that the Webster Athletics website does a better job than we do, and at a much faster rate. We commend them for that, and instead we have set a goal of providing in-depth coverage to Webster athletes. This means we want to share athletes’ personal stories, off-beat sports stories (just like our Quidditch coverage) and provide you something more meaningful than what we have provided in the past (game coverage, often a week after-the-fact).

I myself have to say as a student I am disheartened by your words against the Quidditch team, and by some of the comments that have been left on our social media pages. Whether they be armored with a statement of non-ill intent, those words will sting your fellow Gorloks. The Quidditch players may not have an organization standing behind them, but they certainly work hard to play the sport they love. No matter how outlandish it may be, or if they are a club or not, I believe it is the wrong move to place yourself on a pedestal as a Division III athlete. You’ve complained about Webster’s official athletics taking the backseat to a Webster athletic club one time out of numerous issues of The Journal.

Your argument seems to also fall into the “it’s not a sport” category. We as a staff believe sports are not defined by what falls under the tab on Webster’s website. If you’ve watched a Quidditch practice, which you say that you have, you know that the team plays with ferocity and speed. They run plays, practice regularly and provide an off-beat athletic escape to students at Webster.

If you truly felt like Webster’s athletes were “slapped in the face” by our coverage of Quidditch, you should take a moment to understand you’ve just slapped several more of Webster’s athletes in the face as well. They don’t get game stories on Webster’s website, they don’t get a field to play on (they practice on the quad that has been in between field work throughout the year) and they win no official trophies. We, as a staff, understand that when you have a big event that goes uncovered, it feels like The Journal may have slighted you. It’s understandable. But believe me when I say we cover what we can and make news judgments every day about what we should be covering. Last issue, we had our small team of writers cover the Quidditch team’s biggest tournament ever, a Gorlok getting player-of-the-week and an in-depth story about how athletes struggle after suffering injuries. We stand by our coverage. It is diverse and inclusive to all of Webster.

As a Division III athlete, you play the game for the love of the sport, not for the publicity that comes with it. Athletes at this level have the opportunity to show the purity of their sports. You play because you love the sport and you show it through hard work and don’t need to be glorified for it. Your fellow Gorloks on the Quidditch team share that idea with you.

It’s been many years since I was an athlete of any kind, but I do recall having a shared camaraderie with all of the athletes at my high school. We were in it together, we wanted to win for our school. I implore you to adopt that mentality, whether it be volleyball, soccer, Quidditch or lawn bowling.

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  • Jack Bensinger

    lol this is why Webster athletes don’t feel much for Webster. We do it for our teammates, not for what’s written on our jerseys. Since we, the athletics teams are the only people who care about the outcomes of our seasons. Athlete rentention at Webster is terrible, a presentation to upper level administrators was done on this a few years back, not much was done following.

    • Jack Bensinger

      Retention*

  • Nukaleu

    Webster celebrates niche cultures and diverse forms of self-expression. This is a huge part of our identity, and it’s not a secret. The whole point of a university is to create new opportunities for people, to foster growth and help students create things that have never existed before. If athletes don’t like Webster because it *sometimes* celebrates fringe sports, maybe those athletes should be considering different schools. It must be difficult to join a school and feel nothing for its values.

    • Jack Bensinger

      Not really I would say it’s similar to playing at a junior college you care about your team and it’s supporters. It’s just interesting that they say they let the athletics website cover the sports, when many regular students don’t know about that site so they are not informed of upcoming games they can attend. I’m don’t care that quittitch got covered and most athletes at Webster would agree, but more attention payed to staying up to date on reporting on the athletics teams would be nice. But it’s D3 sports can’t really expect much.