There is a surprising literary phenomenon creeping into the rather exclusive world of sports. Over the last six years, a new game has begun infiltrating the country. It started on college campuses and has quickly been adopted by high school and community teams alike.
This so-called sport may seem typical enough at first glance, albeit with some borrowed equipment. Goalpost? Check. Dodgeball? Check. Volleyball? Check. Broomstick? Chec—wait…What?
If you catch yourself staring and wondering if that is merely a made-up word… technically, it is. But this is a word that has become a part of the world’s vernacular by way of a little wizarding franchise known as Harry Potter. Now, book-loving Potterheads, athletes, and numerous people in between have joined forces to bring this fictional sport into a very real arena.
It doesn’t take long to realize that this isn’t your average sport—Wizard Quidditch is typically played while flying on a broomstick. Since mere Muggles (that’s “non-wizards” for Potter newbies) can’t actually fly, the game has been adapted to suit the needs of its fanbase. Muggle Quidditch is a game where two seven-player teams charge each other, while straddling broomsticks, and try to throw balls through goals typically constructed out of hula-hoops. It sounds utterly ridiculous but it’s also ridiculously fun.
In Quidditch, the offense is made up of three “Chasers” who try to throw a volleyball (called a “Quaffle”) through the three hoops on either side of the field. Two “Beaters,” on defense, try to stop this by throwing dodgeballs (or “Bludgers”) at the opposing team. Each team has one “Keeper” who serves as a goalie, guarding the hoops.”
But perhaps the most exciting part of this crazy sport is the role of each team’s “Seeker” and the sole “Snitch.” In the Harry Potter universe, the Snitch is a little gold ball that flies around the field and surrounding area, and must be captured by a Seeker to conclude the game. The team whose Seeker catches the Snitch receives a set amount of points, which may or may not be enough for that team to win. In Muggle Quidditch, the Snitch has been replaced by a ball at the bottom of a sock that has been tucked into the waistband of a person (dressed in gold) who runs off the field at the start of the game. From there, the two Seekers must scour not only the field, but the entire park or campus, to capture the elusive Snitch. There is no place too obscure for the person serving as Snitch to hide. I have spotted a Snitch up in a tree and chilling on top of an exceptionally tall dumpster. They are often seen careening over spectators and even performing acrobatics to avoid being caught.
But probably the greatest thing about Quidditch is its allure for Harry Potter fans, both athletically-inclined and not, who are able to participate in a sport that blurs the lines between fiction and reality. Despite living my entire life with an utter apathy for sports, I finally found cause to join my first sports team. I spend my free time practicing at a local park where people routinely stop, puzzled, to ask us what we are playing or shout out to us, “Is that Quidditch?”
And while we have a lot of fun, we also play hard. There have been plenty of concussions, broken bones, twisted ankles, and assorted other minor injuries, but we keep playing because we love it. Because we want to keep the story of Harry Potter alive. And we do it in the name of a book series that convinced even the most uncoordinated of us that we, too, can fly.
To learn more about Quidditch, or to find a team, visit www.InternationalQuidditch.org.
Photo by Mindy Rice