Quidditch Abandons Its 'Harry Potter' Roots In A Quest For Credibility


If there's one aspect of the Harry Potter book series that should be real — beside dragons and invisibility cloaks, obviously — it's Quidditch. Just think about it: How much more exciting would this World Cup be if it were the Quidditch World Cup? Fortunately for Harry Potter fans, that may be a reality soon. Members of the International Quidditch Association want Quidditch to become a credible sport — and they mean it. To do this, they plan to leave Harry Potter behind.

According to The Washington Post, members of the IQA met this week for its third annual conference of broom-riding fun. There, the Quidditch players worked on skills to improve not only their playing, but also their coaching. The members also discussed an ongoing plan: to disassociate themselves from the Harry Potter world.

Although Quidditch, a sport created by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, has been garnering real-life players and fans for years — the association says it boasts more than 300 registered teams at universities and high schools — the sport can't shake off its Harry Potter origins. It's not necessarily surprising, considering most players of the game would wear wizard capes while they play. Plus, the game does require flying broomsticks.

Aside from the capes and other Harry Potter allusions, why is Quidditch so hard to bring into the real world? Well, for one, it requires riding around on broomsticks — hundreds of feet in the air. If that wasn't enough of a deterrent, the game also uses magical balls that literally have minds of their own; they can fly and zip around the air anyway they want.

But modern-day Quidditch has made up for these non-magical handicaps. These Quidditch players call the game "muggle Quidditch," taking the Harry Potter term for a person who lacks magical ability.

How Real-Life Quidditch Is Played

Quidditch players have re-imagined the sport, integrating facets from rugby, tag and dodgeball. The sport is now played on a rectangular grass sports field about the size of a hockey rink instead of high in the sky.

And though there's still a snitch, it no longer has a mind of its own; the snitch is now placed on the waistband of a "snitch runner," who escapes being captured during the game. The other magical balls have also been replaced for more real-world alternatives, including a volleyball for the quaffle and two dodgeballs for the bludgers. The standing hoops from the original Harry Potter game have also been left intact, with a keeper — or goalie — patrolling them throughout the match.

Equipment is not the only recent adjustment the IQA and its members have made throughout the years. The association has worked on standardizing all aspects of the sport, from umpiring and coaching to gameplay policies and uniforms, as a way to make Quidditch truly competitive. Goodbye, capes and Harry Potter spectacles. Hello, jerseys, headbands, lacrosse goggles and mouth guards.

It's A Diverse Sport, Too

The International Quidditch Association has also introduced a "two-minimum" gender rule, which requires teams to have "at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players." Not a bad inclusivity policy.

But does taking the literal magic out of Quidditch also...take the magic out of Quidditch, so to speak? In the Harry Potter series, the most exhilarating aspect of Quidditch wasn't the rules or the points or even the legion of fans; it was the mix of fear and excitement of zooming through the sky at rapid speeds and pulling off gravity-defying feats. That's kind of tough to do when you're running on grass with a broomstick between your legs.

As one avid Quidditch player told The Washington Post, competitive muggle Quidditch may also leave some hardcore Harry Potter fans behind. "As we’ve pushed to be more of a sport, and as the average college team has become more competitive, it becomes more intimidating for the casual Harry Potter fan who has never played a sport before to join," Quidditch player Logan Anbinder told The Post. “And that’s kind of sad."

Images: Wikimedia Commons, The International Quidditch Association, John Loo/Flickr, Meg Stewart/Flickr