A Fantasy Sport ...That will Make You Sweat!
Seeking a sport that combines the endurance of soccer, the physicality of rugby, and the coordination of team handball? Look no further than quidditch for all this along with healthy doses of camaraderie and fun.
A Sport that is Taking Off
Quidditch, the real-life adaptation of the fictional sport from Harry Potter in which athletes compete while flying on brooms, has “swept” across college campuses and the world at large since its inception at Middlebury College in 2005. The game is played at over 500 colleges and universities in the US, and also saw five international teams—representing the United States, France, Australia, Canada, and the UK—present at the first ever Olympic Expo Games last summer in Oxford.
How to Play
While athletes don’t fly, they do have to keep a broom between their legs at all times. Seven players take the pitch for each team at a time, including three chasers, whose job is to score by running and passing the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) through any of the three hoops at the other end of the pitch.
One keeper on each team defends these shots, while two beaters on each team grab bludgers (rubber kickballs) and try to hit members of the opposing team. When a player is hit by a bludger, they must dismount their broom and run back to their own hoops before rejoining play.
Amidst this organized chaos is the hunt by each team’s seeker for the snitch, an impartial fifteenth athlete dressed in yellow with a tennis ball in a sock hanging from the back of his or her pants, a la flag football. The snitch leaves the pitch at the beginning of the game while the players’ and subs’ eyes are closed, and the seekers may leave the field of play to find him or her.
While quidditch athletes field the inevitable questions from passersby with tongue in-cheek responses—“no, we don’t fly, our school of engineering is still working on that”—the intensity of play at the highest level is anything but. The sport is full contact, as well as coed; which means you’re just as likely to see a 130-pound girl take down a hulking former football star as the reverse.
World Cup Quidditch
For the top teams, training is rigorous, and can include three to five practices a week in addition to conditioning and weightlifting sessions. Of these top teams, 80 were invited to the sport’s sixth annual World Cup, held this past April in Kissimmee, FL (last year’s Cup was held on Randall’s Island in NYC), which saw the University of Texas at Austin defeat UCLA in hard-fought final match.
Competition, Community, & Creativity
The fact that quidditch is as physically demanding as any sport played on a college campus, but as welcoming as the most eager of extracurriculars, is partially attributable to the “three C’s” of its governing body, the International Quidditch Association. The IQA, a registered 501c(3) nonprofit whose mission is “governing the sport of quidditch and inspiring young people to lead physically active and socially engaged lives,” represents its core values as Competition, Community, and Creativity.
Obviously, a sport just eight years old in which new hoop and broom designs are constantly being tested for durability and cost-effectiveness very clear strain of creativity. Less readily apparent to a passerby, at least until he or she sees their first quidditch match, are the levels of competition and community that rival any seen in an organized sport, no matter its age. Matches that may be marked by concussions and broken collarbones (two of the most common quidditch injuries) are ended with teams meeting in the center of the pitch for a group hug. Seemingly to a one, players view their quidditch team as their family, and the community at large as extended relatives. The sense of community at large events like the World Cup is truly inspiring, and is also tremendous motivator to continue to improve athletically.
Growing & Developing
As the sport of quidditch grows, it will continue to develop its identity, but if its next decade is anything like its first, athletes and spectators alike have a great deal to look forward to. And for anyone looking to try out a new sport, there’s no more exciting feeling than kneeling in front of your three hoops when the ref yells, “Brooms Up!”
Ready to play? Explore "Real-Life Quidditch - How to Get Off the Ground!"