One of the most amazing (some might say crazy) things I learned at the NineWorlds geekfest this weekend, was regarding the existence of the muggle version of that quintessential of Harry Potter sports, Quidditch. Some remarkable work has gone into creating a version of the sport that us magically-challenged can play. Furthermore, it has been around for over 7 years and boasts nearly 300 officially sanctioned teams and leagues worldwide, and many more recreational versions. And this is not a game for kids (although it could be) as many of these teams are at the university level.
The game is governed by the International Quidditch Association (IQA), who set the rules, described in a very detailed guidebook, and approve competitive teams and leagues. But that’s not to say that you can’t set up your own fun league. The rule book can be downloaded for free from their website, but tries to follow the rules from Harry Potter, adapted for non-magic-born where necessary.
As in the movie, there are 7 players aside: three chasers, two beaters, one keeper, and one seeker. And there is one quaffle (the ball for scoring, usually a volleyball), two bludgers (dodgeballs), and one… snitch. The three balls are generally kept slightly under-inflated to make them easier to grasp, and the bludgers are thrown, not batted.
Also, the snitch is a person, usually with some kind of flag in the pocket, who hides for a set time near the beginning of the game, and then is chased by the seakers once ‘released’.
The quaffle can be advanced down the pitch by running, passing or kicking it and a chaser will score 10 points for his/her team for putting the quaffle through any one of the three opposing goals. In muggle Quidditch, catching the snitch is only worth 30 points (instead of the 150 in the magic version) to make the game more interesting and competitive.
The pitch is as shown here. Note, you can score from behind the posts, as long as you’re still on the pitch.
Oh, and players ‘ride’ brooms. Sort of. Although they’re optional in recreational play, to keep the original feel from the movie, most games involve players running with truncated brooms between their legs. When hit by a bludger or otherwise ‘dismounted’, the player must run back and touch their own goal posts before rejoining the play. Of course, with bludgers being thrown around, there is much dismounting and so a referee is necessary.
Lest the numbers I listed earlier not convince you, this year’s Quidditch World Cup, held in Kissimmee, Florida, saw 1500 players, 80 teams, and 12,000 spectators from around the world at the tournament.
From the demonstration I’ve seen, it looks like a very fun game, although it’s hard to imagine it entering the competitive mainstream for two reasons.
1) Brooms. They are extraneous, serving no real purpose for the muggle version of the game except as health hazards. In recreational and fun play, sure, to capture the feel of Harry Potter. But competitively, I can’t see the brooms lasting.
2) The snitch. Currently, it is played by an independent runner. At the competitive levels this is clearly not exceptable. Consider if Quidditch were to go pro, a human snitch would be incredibly prone to abuse. Even if the person was completely impartial, a slight slip in the mud, or a questionable turn on the field could so easily lead to calls of game fixing.
Still, in no way does that discourage my interest. Any time a new team sport is developed, it’s exciting, and Quidditch has some diverse and creative elements that are combined in a new and entertaining way. I, for one, hope it does catch on.
Insight and longevity.