My son Matthew, as you may know from our newsletters or Facebook posts, is currently a student at the University of Virginia. One of the extra-curricular activities he is participating in is a sport called quidditch. In fact this past weekend we were at one of his quidditch matches where this video was filmed. As this will be something we will be posting or talking about a fair amount I figured it’d be worth answering the question that is probably the top of many of your minds and was at the top of my mind when my son decided to play the sport: “What is quidditch?”
It all began with the single best-selling book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. That series was of course Harry Potter by British author J. K. Rowling, a world wide phenomenon. Rowling wrote a rich and intricate world of witches and in locations wizards ranging from the prestigious Hogwarts, to where much of the books are set,to seedy taverns like The Leaky Cauldron. However one aspect that continually played a large part in the story and continually captivated readers of the books and watchers of the movie was the sport of quidditch.
Quidditch, in the books, is a complicated sport with the single most notable feature being that it is completely played on broomsticks. Understandably in order for non-witches and wizards to play the game, the mechanics and rules had to be changed somewhat. This alternate rules real world sport is known as Muggle Quidditch (muggle being the term from the Harry Potter books for non-magic persons). Invented by a group of friends in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont the sport has grown to the point where the first International Quidditch Association World Cup was held in 2007 with the association now having over 300 teams in over 20 countries. Much of the popularity has sprung up on college campuses as intramural sports teams. Furthermore the Association and the sport is seen as a leader in gender and LGBTQ issues.
In muggle quidditch there are still broomsticks, but they don’t fly. Instead, the player must be mounted on them all times, unless they get hit by a bludger. Then they must dismount and walk to their own sides hoops before remounting. Brooms can be anything from competition brooms to swiffers. There are three hoops on either side of the pitch. Like in quidditch in the books throwing the quaffle through the hoops earns 10 points. The quaffle is a slightly deflated regulation volleyball which only chasers and keepers can touch. Bludgers are slightly deflated dodgeballs that can only be manipulated by beaters. At any time there are four beaters but only three bludgers, bulldoggers are used to hit any player on the field.
It sounds confusing but that’s just the beginning. To find out more you can download the full 170 page rulebook from the US Quidditch League Website. It appears to this sport is set to take off, maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively.
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