Quidditch, the sport from Harry Potter, where wizards fly around on brooms scoring goals, hitting each other with balls, and chasing around the magical equivalent of a golden hummingbird. Surely one would think something as magical as all that could only exist in the bounds of computer generated flying sequences in film and strung together words of fiction on a page, but that’s not so. In 2005, Alex Benepe and Xander Manshel worked together in Middlebury College, Vermont to bring this sport into the muggle world, and succeeded. For ten years, muggles have been running around on broomsticks playing their own full contact co-ed version of Quidditch.
Each team consists of three chasers (wearing white headbands), a keeper (green headband), two beaters (black headbands), and a seeker (yellow headband), all running around with brooms between their legs. Three hoops sit on either side of the pitch, waiting for the chasers to throw the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) through and score 10 points. Meanwhile, the beaters play with three bludgers (dodgeballs) throwing them at the other players trying to knock them off broom. When a player gets hit by a bludger, they have to get off their broom, and run back to their hoops before remounting and joining the game. For the first 18 minutes the chasers and keeper try to score as many points as possible with the quaffle while dodging bludgers. At the end of those 18 minutes, the snitch comes into play. The snitch isn’t just any old ball, it’s a small yellow ball attached to the shorts waistband of a neutral athlete (the snitch runner). The snitch runner fights with the seekers to keep them from taking the ball off their shorts. The snitch grab is worth 30 points, and ends the game.
This past weekend (April 16-17), 60 teams from all over the United States came together to Columbia, South Carolina to duke it out in the 9th US Quidditch Cup (formerly called the Quidditch World Cup). Spectators of all sorts -Harry Potter fans, Quidditch players rooting for friends, family members, and people who simply enjoy the complex sport- had a grand time cheering on their favored teams to make it to the final round. When not on the pitch playing or watching other matches, players and spectators could take a walk through the vendors tables to buy Harry Potter themed merchandise from groups such as Transfiguring Adoption (dedicated to nurturing growth in foster-adoptive families), the Harry Potter Alliance (dedicated to making activism accessible through the power of story), Petersons (the official broom creators for the US Quidditch cup), and Harry and the Potters (the live entertainment, and provider of the amazing Snitchwiches). This year, US Quidditch even had a small exhibit showcasing ten years of muggles bringing Quidditch to life.
For more information on Quidditch, or to find teams in your area (for teams in the US) or international teams here