A question which I occasionally encounter is why the SCA has so many rules. One look at the precedence of law list at http://lochac.sca.org/seneschal/book-law.htm will explain why this question arises. There seems to be an awful lot of documents needed to keep our game operating -- particularly when you include all the office-level policies.
Half the answer comes from the simple fact that SCA events are not private parties. Organising those is often dead-easy - sometimes as easy as saying "turn up!" and waiting for folks to arrive. However, because the SCA exists as a separate legal entity capable of booking its own venues, paying for services and so on, a whole host of mundane regulations and insurance requirements exist which govern how we must do things.
Layered on top of that is the internal policies we have generated over the years in order to make decisions about such matters -- and also about how we choose who gets to make decisions -- plus all the other elements which represent SCA tradition and culture.
And a further level of complexity is added by the fact this is an international organisation, not just one run by and for a bunch of people who live near you.
But there's more. Many clubs -- even national associations or comparable size -- seem to get by with fewer governing documents and arguably less reporting or event-organisation work than does the SCA. Why are we special?
Here's where it is very important to compare apples with apples. The SCA is not a martial arts training club. It is not a sewing group. It is not a dance society, or a singing group, or a cooking guild, or a pottery collective or a calligraphy club. It is not a commercial (or even amateur) medieval demo and education service.
It is none of those things, but quite often all of them. And its lifestyle and whole-of-family aspects usually go well beyond what any one of the above would cover in a comparable non-SCA organisation.
This breadth of purpose and of focus is the obvious factor which distinguishes SCA activities from those of our neighbouring societies down the road, who usually have to worry about just one primary raison d'etre. Combined with the valuable national and international layers to what we do, there is far more potential complexity to be aware of, and to manage wisely.
Given all that complexity and the work associated with dealing with it, I sometimes wonder how we manage to function at all.
And yet we do -- year in, year out -- and prosper, even though many like-minded groups have waxed and waned around us over the years. Part of the SCA's strength lies in the body of work that has created our rules and systems -- for all their faults, they generally work. And the rest of our strength, of course, draws from the goodwill and vision which each of us brings to the table.
To the extent that SCA policies and practice continue to allow for and actively encourage such contributions in a positive and collaborative atmosphere, we are well set for a long and event-filled future.
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