One of the most iconic images from J.K. Rowling’s magical world is the boy-who-lived himself, Harry Potter, on his Nimbus 2000, reaching for the golden snitch mid-match. It’s an exciting moment for our hero, and it’s a clear representation of the positive impact of sports and games.
Quidditch plays a huge role in Harry’s story, as it’s something in his tumultuous life that offers him stability, helps build up his confidence, and gives him a tie to his father, who also played for Gryffindor during his time at Hogwarts. Though most of us may not be able to relate to Harry’s magical abilities and feud with a dark lord, sports and games are just as impactful for muggles and no-maj folk as they are for witches and wizards. So much so, that we’ve actually adapted the magical game of quidditch to suit our mundane, magic-less lifestyle.
The History of Quidditch in the U.S.
American quidditch as we know it today stems back to 2005 when the first-ever university quidditch match was played on Battell Beach at Middlebury College in Vermont. Players showed up to the game with brooms and capes in hand, and by the next month there were already sevens teams of Middlebury students playing along.
From then on, college after college began to catch quidditch-fever and join Middlebury in creation of the league. In 2010, US Quidditch was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and the first-ever meeting of USQ board of directors took place. 46 teams participated in the league’s fourth World Cup that year, which was covered by 40 media outlets, spreading the word that the game of quidditch had arrived, and wasn’t going anywhere.
How to Play Quidditch
The rules of the game of quidditch aren’t too different than what we hear Oliver Wood tell Harry during their first practice together, with only a few glaring differences that are fairly obvious to anyone that has read the books or seen the movies.
Each team consists of seven players including a keeper, three chasers, two beaters, and one seeker. Just as we saw on the Hogwarts quidditch pitch, the keeper acts as goalie to three hoops which chasers attempt to toss quaffles through, the beaters try to fend off chasers from scoring by tagging them with bludgers, and the seeker chases after the elusive golden snitch in order to end (and hopefully win) the match.
There are fouls, consequences, and good and bad plays just like in any other sport or game, except quidditch is actually played with brooms (or lengths of PVC pipe, Swiffers, sticks, etc.) carried between the players’ legs.
It’s Not All About Potter
Though the quidditch we know and love today wouldn’t be around without it, players aren’t particularly keen on comparing their sport to Rowling’s fictional version at every turn. Caleb Parker, former player for the University of Texas, says that though he still appreciates the Potter books as a beloved part of his childhood, he didn’t quite carry that with him every time he stepped on the field. “Quidditch has gotten to the point where association with a fantasy novel can’t do much for it, at least in terms of finding legitimacy in the world of sports,” he said. “But I would also like to acknowledge that quidditch has been a positive force on college campuses across the country, and a lot of that is owed to its connection with the books.”
“Plus, quidditch gets all sorts of people interested in fitness and healthy competition, people who may at one point have been put-off by sports culture,” Parked continued. “So while I’m in favor of separation of sport and book, it would be a grave misstep to separate quidditch from the kind and inclusive ethos which with J.K. Rowling imbued her novels.”
Interested in learning more about real world quidditch? Checkout the organization’s website to find details about the upcoming season,
Featured Image Credit: Meg Stewart/Flickr