College Muggles Battle for Glory
Capital News Service
The version of the game that hundreds of college athletes will play at the Quidditch World Cup in Florida on Saturday will take place on the ground. Muggles, after all, can’t fly.
A field of 80 teams from Canada, France and Mexico will compete in the two-day tournament against college quidditch squads from across the United States, including Penn State, Ohio State, Boston University, Texas A&M, USC and the University of Maryland.
“Muggle quidditch” was created in 2005 by students at Middlebury College in Vermont who were looking for an alternative to bocce ball and adapted the rules of J.K. Rowling’s game for a non-magical audience.
Before long, several intramural teams were competing against each other at Middlebury. Eventually, the game spread to other colleges in the U.S. and around the world.
“We tried to inspire other colleges around the country to start their own team, and then create even larger events for all the other teams to compete in,” said Alex Benepe, the commissioner of the International Quidditch Association.
Seven years later, the International Quidditch Association now presides over the biggest tournament of the year, the Quidditch World Cup.
“I think that quidditch could easily become one of the most popular sports in the world, it has a higher entertainment value than some other well established sports, but it is going to take some time,” Benepe said.
For spectators, the entertainment value is indeed high. It’s a full-contact, co-ed sport, an odd mashup of rugby, dodgeball, hide-and-seek, basketball and soccer. Players tackle each other, without protective padding.
And it requires the seven players on each side to run, awkwardly, with a broom between their legs to simulate flying.
The same positions from the novel exist in the muggle game. “Chasers” throw a slightly deflated volleyball, the “quaffle,” through one of three hoops defended by a “keeper” to score points. They must dodge “bludgers” (rubber kickballs) thrown by “beaters” attempting to knock them from their brooms.
And two “seekers” from opposing teams compete to catch the “snitch.” In the books, the snitch is a magical golden-winged orb that darts around unpredictably. In the muggle game, the snitch is a person dressed in yellow. The game ends when a seeker grabs a tennis ball attached to the snitch’s pants.
Within the next five years, the association hopes to establish a true world cup, where national teams made up of the best players battle it out.
“We really want to expand the audience of the game,” said Logan Anbinder, director of marketing for the International Quidditch Association. “They think Harry Potter, they think nerds, they have connotations of people running around on brooms, but it’s a real sport.”