[sca-comments] Atlantia Crown Tourney Variance Feedback

Alix Evans alix.evans at gmail.com
Sun Dec 13 20:23:33 CST 2020


To the SCA Board of Directors: In their recorded address to the kingdom on
December 8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hiz2hg3be6s&t=66s), Their Royal
Majesties Anton and Luned, King and Queen of Atlantia, announced that they
are requesting a variance to allow a modified Crown Tourney to be held in
March, a variance which would likely set expectations in other kingdoms as
well.  I am writing to you as a peer of Atlantia asking you not to approve
this variance.  Even if it were possible to hold the tournament in a safe
manner in March, holding this event will encourage gatherings in the months
leading up to it that will make all Atlantians less safe.  TRMs have other
ways of addressing the question of succession available to them, besides
holding a Crown Tourney while official events are suspended.

Although I assume Crown Tourney would be held outside, and I have every
confidence that TRMs will limit attendees and require masks and social
distancing among spectators, the act of heavy fighting does not lend itself
to appropriate COVID protocols.  Masks can be worn, but distancing cannot
be enforced between combatants, and physical exertion and heavy breathing
make the transmission of particles through masks even more likely.

But even if a vaccine were available and transmission were low enough that
a March Crown could be held safely, my chief concern is the gatherings it
will prompt in the months leading up to the event - what epidemiologists
warn and numbers indicate will be the darkest months of the pandemic.  The
promise of a Crown Tourney in March will mean heavy fighters coming to
"unofficial practices" to train together.  This is already happening in
some parts of our kingdom, but it is inevitable that it will happen more
with a high-stakes, high-profile tournament on the horizon.  Fighters who
have stayed home thus far will have a compelling reason to gather.  Squires
who may not have felt safe gathering will see their knights sponsoring
practices and will either trust their example or feel obligated to
participate.  At a time when our kingdom is experiencing unchecked
community spread, when our case numbers will be at their worst and our
hospitals the fullest they've been, when many of our children have not been
able to set foot inside of their schools since March, and the CDC is
cautioning against small family gatherings for the holidays, the LAST thing
the SCA should be doing is providing a tempting reason to ignore public
health recommendations.

According to Atlantia's reopening plan, small, local activities will
eventually be allowed under certain circumstances with certain precautions
in place.  Currently the kingdom has designated the vast majority of our
local groups as being in "closed" status, and unable to hold any in-person
gatherings of any kind.  Currently no group in Atlantia is authorized to
hold in-person combat activities (see attachments for details).  Given the
trajectory of the disease, it is obvious that over the coming winter months
more groups will be moved into "closed" status, and no groups will be able
to resume in-person combat activities.  To give the populace a reason to
hold EXACTLY this type of activity on an unofficial level at a time when
they are forbidding them officially undermines the credibility of the
reopening plan.

Of course, neither the SCA nor TRMs are responsible for the behavior of
individuals who choose to gather unofficially.  However, as leaders, we
have an obligation to promote behavior that is in the best interest of our
communities, rather than giving people a reason to make decisions that
endanger them.  Given the COVID numbers Atlantia is already experiencing,
and the promise of much worse to come, it is entirely likely that an
outbreak might be contact-traced back to Crown Tourney or to an unofficial
practice preparing for it.

Furthermore, granting this variance would undermine the measures that the
SCA has taken to mitigate the spread of COVID in our communities thus far,
and would potentially open the SCA up to liability should outbreaks or
fatalities be contact-traced back to the event or unofficial practices in
preparation for the event.  And even if the SCA were to avoid liability,
the optics of even an unofficial SCA practice creating an outbreak this
winter would damage our reputation and make it more difficult to recruit
new members when events can once again be held safely.

The question of succession is one that all kingdoms are grappling with, and
other kingdoms have shown that there are ways of addressing it that do not
endanger their subjects.  For instance, my understanding is that TRMs
Aethelmearc have a regent in mind, should they be unable to reign until a
Crown Tournament can safely be held.  Our Atlantian Majesties have already
reigned beyond their expected term, and I completely understand if they
feel they cannot continue beyond March.  However, a regent could be found,
or a variance could be requested allowing for an alternate method of
choosing heirs, rather than a variance that puts the health and safety of
Atlantians, those in our larger communities, and the SCA's reputation at
risk.

I understand that these are uniquely difficult times, and that TRMs have
had to make very difficult decisions.  They have shown that they are
committed to keeping Atlantia safe, and have made very thoughtful decisions
thus far.  I am convinced that they have put a great deal of thought into
the request for this variance, and are acting with nothing but the best
interests of their subjects in mind.  However, in this case I believe they
have reached the wrong decision.  For the good of Atlantia and the SCA, I
urge you not to approve their requested variance.

Respectfully yours,

Iselda de Narbonne, O.L.

mka Alexandra Evans

Shire of Roxbury Mill

Kingdom of Atlantia
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