Not only is J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series one of the most enduring literary creations of all time, but many aspects of her world-building have become ubiquitous pop culture references, too. You'd be hard-pressed to find a reader of the series who doesn't identify completely with their chosen Hogwarts House, and the fictional school itself has become as oft-referenced as our real-world Ivy Leagues. But what has emerged as perhaps the most popular creation in Rowling's series? Quidditch.
The wizarding sport has evolved off the pages of the fantasy novels to become an IRL competition. Since 2007, when the United States Quidditch Association was first founded, teams all around the world have been competing in the non-fictional version of the sport — which is played on foot while using one hand to hold a broom between the leg. But up until now, the only information we really had about Quidditch came from what was written in the books. But if you've ever wondered just how Rowling came up with the game's wacky scoring system, you're in luck: The author took to Twitter recently to respond to a fan who, even 20 years later, just can't get the fundamentals of the game.
On Oct. 9, a Twitter user, whose username Rowling redacted in her response, tweeted to Rowling: "the scoring system of quidditch makes zero sense." And, here's the thing — they have a point. The simple key to winning Quidditch is to rack up more points than the other team. In order to do this, the three team Chasers attempts to score as many 10-point goals as they can, while the two Beaters protect the team from rogue Bludgers and the Keeper defends the goal-posts. Then there is the Seeker, who is designated to capture the Snitch — a tiny golden-winged ball that automatically awards their team a whopping 150 points and ends the game. But, if a team happens to be more than 150 points behind their opponents, they really have no incentive to catch the Snitch, right? Maybe in your world, but not in Rowling's.
Her explanation behind her Quidditch scoring system is the sort of poetic response only she could give. Rowling writes, "It makes total sense. There's glamour in chasing an elusive lucky break, but teamwork and persistence can still win the day. Everyone's vulnerable to blows of fate and obstructive people, and success means rising above them. Quidditch is the human condition. You're welcome."
The brilliant response adds an additional layer of intrigue to the wizard sport, doesn't it? Not only is it a game...it's the game of life. You rise to the challenge, even when the odds are stacked against you, win or lose. And, actually, we've seen Rowling's philosophy of the game come into play in the books themselves, too. Fans will remember that Bulgarian Seeker Viktor Krum caught the Snitch at the Quidditch World Cup final, even though his team was more than 150 points behind, losing the game. But the important take away was that he lost on his own terms.
So, there you go, Potterheads. Quidditch is less about the art of winning, and more a lesson in dignity. And if you're anything like me, this will make you feel way better about all those times you were chosen last in high school gym class and lived to tell the tale.