It’s an overcast Sunday morning in Madison’s Brittingham Park. Out of the calm atmosphere comes a loud, “Brooms up!” Two hordes of college students charge each other at full speed with narrow PVC pipes between their legs. Dodgeballs whiz through the air. Juking out opponents left and right, one player throws a volleyball through a large hoop as his team celebrates their score.
At some point in their life, every Harry Potter fan has had the desire to play the fictional sport of Quidditch. Due to a lack of magical flying balls and broomsticks, this desire has been more fantasy than reality. However, that dream has come true for many.
In 2005, a pair of students at Middlebury College in Vermont adapted the rules of the famous fictional sport to be played in real life. Quidditch consists of two teams of seven players. Three chasers attempt to throw the “quaffle,” a slightly deflated volleyball, through one of three hoops. Two beaters on each team fight over control of three “bludgers,” slightly deflated dodgeballs, that can be thrown at opposing players and force them to run back to their hoops. A keeper defends the hoops but can also play on offense. The seeker tries to grab the “snitch,” a tennis ball inside a yellow sock, that is tucked into the belt of a third-party “snitch runner.” On top of all this chaos, each player must run with some sort of “broom” between their legs.
When I tell people that I play Quidditch, I get a lot of strange looks. Every time, the person I’m talking to says, “Quidditch isn’t real! You’ve got to be joking.” However, Quidditch is very real. Quidditch is played at more than 100 colleges across the United States. The year 2010 saw the official creation of US Quidditch, the national association and governing body of Quidditch in the United States. It didn’t stop there. In 2014, the International Quidditch Association became the official governing body of the sport worldwide. There are currently 10 national governing bodies in the IQA from the United States, Canada, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), United Kingdom, Australia, France, Italy, Mexico, Norway and Argentina. The IQA also works with developing areas such as Turkey, Spain, Germany and Poland. Last but not least, the IQA is also working on developing areas where Quidditch is just starting to emerge such as Uganda, Malaysia, Brazil, China and Chile. Quidditch is the fastest-growing sport in the world and has gone from a college club to an international sport beloved by many in only a decade.
In high school, I had the wonderful opportunity of starting a Quidditch club. We built our own hoops and got a group of people together to play. After my first taste, I was constantly thirsting for more. Thankfully, I was able to get in touch with Chris Noble, a UW grad student from Leeds, England, and member of TeamUK, who had hopes of starting a Quidditch team here at Madison. As a result, Wisconsin Quidditch was born. Currently in the process of becoming a registered student organization on campus, Wisconsin Quidditch promotes the fact that it is open to all. Noble states, “My favorite part of Quidditch is how it manages to blend together the best aspects of different sports, meaning everyone can find their niche; it makes it easy to include anyone and everyone.” Within five years Noble hopes that Quidditch at Madison will explode into summer leagues, traveling teams and perhaps a US Quidditch Cup championship.
Whether a Harry Potter fan or not, Quidditch is one of the most fun sports to ever play. Although seemingly weird at first, your perspective will forever be changed the first time you mount your broom. Birthed from the minds of two college students, Quidditch has become a multinational conglomerate. Noble, founder of Wisconsin Quidditch, hopes to provide every student with the opportunity to try out Quidditch. Now with almost 200 likes on Facebook and practices every Sunday, Wisconsin Quidditch seems to be on its way to achieving this goal. I strongly encourage each person to try it out because of its infinite amount of fun. In five years, the US Quidditch Cup may be making its way to Madison.
Ben is a freshman majoring in political science. Please send all questions and comments to email@example.com.