WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
In Muggle Quidditch, a person plays the Snitch. If you don’t know what that means, then you’re missing out.
By Libby Longino
No, you cannot actually go to Hogwarts, invisibility cloaks have yet to hit the shelves and we have yet to find flying dragons, much less figure out how to ride them. But the game of Quidditch seems to have successfully made the jump from the pages of Harry Potter to Muggle reality — at least in some form. (Muggles, as we’re sure you recall, are what nonmagical humans are called in the phenomenally successful series.
You might protest that the game’s very essence is bound up in having broomsticks that fly, but don’t tell that to the some 1,500 athletes who participate in the Quidditch World Cup every year. Originally developed in Muggle form by students at Middlebury College looking to add some flair to their intramurals in 2005, Quidditch has exploded across campuses in the United States and beyond.
The Quidditch World Cup
- 80 teams
- 1,500 individual players
- Regional tournaments in six U.S. regions, eastern Canada, Australia and Europe
- First tournament: 2007
- First year the tournament founders, (Muggle) Quidditch Middlebury College, didn’t win: 2013
- Next World Cup: April 5 and 6, 2014, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The Intercollegiate Quidditch Association (IQA), the sport’s surprisingly professional organizing body, now oversees close to 1,000 teams in 43 countries, 600 teams in the U.S. alone; there are so many teams, in fact, that the Quidditch World Cup is no longer an open invitational but a serious tournament at which the top 80 teams earn their spots after battling it out in one of nine regional tournaments.
Unfortunately, the IQA hasn’t yet developed a flying broomstick, and the game’s present Muggle incarnation is a mix of rugby, dodgeball, soccer and tag, all carried out with a broomstick clutched between one’s legs. With the flying golden ball known as the Snitch proving quite a challenge to replicate, for the moment at least that part is played by a human stand-in, one who is free to play tricks on the other players and even leave the pitch. But that’s all part of the fun. Even in its grounded form, with its widespread popularity, serious quarterly and organized season, it’s hard to deny that that the new sport has taken flight.
Despite its Harry Potter origins, there are only about 20 Quidditch teams in the U.K., where most universities, unlike their U.S. counterparts, have yet to consider it a sport or activity worth funding.
It’s a game that truly must be seen to be believed. Enjoy some Quidditch World Cup highlights and an intro to the sport below.
- Libby Longino, OZY Author Contact Libby Longino