Wizards and broomsticks and snitches oh my!
I don’t know if you’ve heard of this book series called Harry Potter? I think they made a movie or two where he was the main character also. Well, on the off chance that you have, you will probably then have heard of quidditch. It’s the biggest sport in the wizarding world so who would have thought I would be able to spend the last year physically playing it?
Quidditch has become a real sport in recent years, mostly starting up through universities thanks to enthusiastic and determined people. Getting a team together for a fictional sport off the ground can’t be easy! (And by off the ground I don’t mean on flying brooms, unfortunately physics is not on our side here.)
Canada gets more and more teams joining its ranks every year and many of the US teams are quite formidable. There’s been a world cup tournament that has happened for the past few years and I actually have friends that played on team Canada. Amazing to think about.
For people who are just trying to wrap their heads around a way for muggles to be able to play the sport (and yes, it is a sport) without any magic, let me break it down for you.
The first thing to note is that yes, we kept in the broom part but no, we have not yet figured out how to use them to fly. There are official quidditch brooms but most people just use a length of plastic pipe that is has to be held between their legs at all times while playing. Having one hand occupied most of the time does make the game a little harder!
You’ve got chasers which are the ones that score. Each team has 3 chasers and a keeper who does exactly what a chaser does except they’ve got a few extra privileges. They deal with the quaffle and the hoops. It’s basically handball where they can run with the ball and pass to each other in order to put the quaffle/slightly deflated volleyball through one of the three hoops. It’s pretty much the same as in Harry Potter except that it’s not way up high in the sky and we have full contact tackling.
Next are the beaters which are super important to muggle quidditch strategy. They use the 3 bludgers which look suspiciously like slightly deflated dodgeballs to hit whomever they want from the opposing team in order to make them get off their broom and run back to their own hoops before remounting. Where it differs from the movies is that the bludgers do not have a mind of their own to be redirected by beater bats but it’s still not fun coming against a beater that could make you basically run a suicide during a game. A quidditch team must always have 2 beaters on the field at a time.
Finally, the piece of equipment most people tend to ask about first: the snitch. In Harry Potter, the snitch is a tiny golden ball with wings that flits around very quickly and must be caught by the seeker in order for the game to be finished. Our real live snitch is a human being, usually dressed in gold or yellow, that has a sock with a tennis ball at the toes velcroed to a pair of shorts. There are manufactured snitch shorts that looks way more official than what I just described and it’s actually really difficult for a seeker to actually reach this sock located right above the snitch’s bum. The snitch does not have to use a broom and can mess with the seekers however they want, throwing them to the ground or pulling their broom out from under them, it’s all fair play.
There used to be off-pitch seeking, in which the snitch would be hiding somewhere away from where the game was actually happening and the seekers had time to go and look for it just like in Harry Potter but as the sport developed, that was deemed impractical and all the seeking is done right in the middle of game play.
It makes for a difficult time for the spectator to choose what to watch with the scoring and the face-beating and the yellow-clothed person running around.
Hopefully that makes quidditch make sense to those of you who hadn’t heard about it being played in real life and hopefully you agree that this full-contact, co-ed sport deserves being called a sport despite its eccentricities.
I have included a video below to showcase the sport in action:
Oh, and what’s my position? I’m a chaser and I just love it. If I could seek, I would but I might just be too small for the job.