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Virtuous Un-Signaling | Gimme Schalter No. 22

Gimme Schalter
Virtuous Un-Signaling | Gimme Schalter No. 22
By Ty Schalter • Issue #22 • View online
As long as I’ve been writing about sports on the Internet, I’ve been apologizing to sports fans for how much of a nerd I am—and for as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve been apologizing to my fellow nerds about how much I love sports.
But as we approach the 13th anniversary of the blog post that started my writing career, I’m more comfortable than ever being unapologetically myself in any forum or crowd. For several years, my pinned Tweet has been one positing the existence of advanced Quidditch analytics:

Ty Schalter
“Actually, Harry,” said Luna, “Batting average on bludgers in play correlates more strongly with expected goals allowed”
I’ve sent smarter, funnier, and lots more popular Tweets. But this one, in one sentence, tied together everything you could expect from me and my Twitter feed in a pithy little bow.
But real-life Quidditch is an actual thing! It started in the mid-aughts, on college campuses, cribbing elements of several other sports and incorporating as much of the fictional game as made sense. Now, there’s serious club and international play:
IQA World Cup 2018 Day 2 Final: USA vs Belgium
IQA World Cup 2018 Day 2 Final: USA vs Belgium
As you’d expect from a sport created in the mid-aughts by Harry Potter superfans, real-life Quidditch is aggressively inclusive and egalitarian. Complex, fast-paced, full contact, mixed gender, and trans-inclusive by design, it’s the perfect mix of nerdery and jockitude, sportsballing and Calvinballing.
But in 2021, there’s nothing less egalitarian than corporate-owned intellectual property–and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is no longer a place where your secret magical identity can be your whole true self.
Meanwhile, though Rowling recently bought her childhood home, she doesn’t live there. She owns two estates in Scotland, and by all accounts is a security and privacy fanatic. She clearly spends much of her free time on the Internet, scowling at all the under-40 types who were inspired by her stories to lead big, vibrant lives of magic and wonder and empathy and acceptance. She’s still writing, but pretty much just thinly veiled polemics against whoever she’s currently maddest at.
Though she rose above her station in the most British of ways–pluck, luck, and good breeding–it feels like she’s obsessed with high-school glory days she never had (her old English teacher once described her as “not exceptional”). It’s as though she wished the world were smaller, like her magical London that only has about 42 wizards in it. It’s like she wished she’d never gotten those degrees, never gone on those adventures, just had a couple of amazing school years where it felt like she could do anything and then chose to get in line with everyone else.
Between the word itself being the corporate IP they can’t properly trademark or license as part of growing the sport, and the fact that a sport built around gender identity and inclusivity really can’t be aligned with the world’s No. 1 transphobe, they’re going to have to come up with something else.
Rowling did exactly what she set out to do with the Harry Potter series: teach millions of kids the world over to dream big, love loud, and accept the magic inside everyone–no matter who their parents were, where they were born, how much money they have, or how different they are from you.
Now, she’s furious at those kids for going beyond the limits of her empathy. And rather than come to heel, as she demands, they’re cutting her off. The values her stories taught a generation-and-then-some are so true, so right, that those people are picking them over her (and her stories).
Of course, the Harry Potter stories have a special place in my heart, too. I launched that indie blog in December 2008, and I joined Twitter two months later. For all 13 years I’ve been on the horrible bird site, my bio has contained a paraphrased version of the exact same Albus Dumbledore quote:
“I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being–forgive me–rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.”
It really does say it all about me
It really does say it all about me
Just like my pinned Tweet, I still think it’s a great way to describe myself. But it’s right next to my pronouns: A signal to the world not just that I support not just the legal right to self-identify one’s own gender, but normalizing the way we do it. I can’t do all that one character away from a J.K. Rowling quote.
Potterstuff means a lot to me, but a lot less than for trans people I know who credit the books with literally saving their lives. So if those folks can cut Rowling loose? If Quidditch can be named not-Quidditch anymore? I can change my bio, and unpin my tweet.
Everything Awesome
Pearlman, a standard-setting sportswriter and author, was technically my colleague at Bleacher Report. Considering he’s one of the writers I grew up idolizing at Sports Illustrated, it was quite a thrill for me at the time. I’d like to think the fact that we both got phased out of B/R’s plans says more about B/R’s plans than us.
But Pearlman’s ongoing efforts to spotlight great writing by interviewing all kinds of great writers is some of the best work anyone’s ever done in the space–and his newsletter, “The Yang Slinger,” is chock full of incredible tips for journalists and non-fiction authors.
“The Option” is not just the story of how one of his books, on the incredible 1980s Lakers dynasty, became a live-action Netflix series, but a bunch of good advice for anyone (like me) who’d like their work to be picked up by Hollywood types someday.
This is beautiful. Thanks to @LouisaD__ for filming and sharing.
Louisa Davies
just witnessed an ice cream man’s funeral and all the ice cream vans came and followed in solidarity I AM SOBBING
Funny, cheeky, too-honest obituaries have long been viral sharebait. And in the time between flagging this one for inclusion in Gimme Schalter, and my actually publishing Gimme Schalter, it’s gone mega-, super-, international-newspaper-level viral.
But if by some chance you haven’t read it yet, Corren’s glorious no-holds-barred tribute to “the bawdy, fertile, redheaded matriarch of a sprawling Jewish-Mexican-Redneck American family” surpasses any I have ever read.
May we all live lives that deserve such a Viking-funeral sendoff, and may we all parent children bold enough to send our corpses up in flames tall enough for the world to see.
Windows Search doesn’t work.
“Everything” does.
In an age where every device we use has near-instantaneous global search, Windows’ painful, stupid, glacially slow search tool really stands out as hopelessly useless. “Everything” just…finds…everything. Instantly. Even on my nearly-full, 3.5-year-old laptop SSD it still brings stuff up breathtakingly fast. My highest recommendation if you’re using a Windows PC.
Chapter 2 of A&A is complete–and folks, I am absolutely thrilled. I am loving spending time with my two main characters, and I hope you all will, too. I wish I had more time to tell their story, as always, but these two will not let me stay away from them for too long.
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Ty Schalter

The latest thoughts, hottest takes, and coolest work of Ty Schalter, a professional writer & talker (@FiveThirtyEight, @ThreeOutPod). Lots of sports, geeky stuff, social commentary and more.

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