A sport for muggles, too — Campus club offers shot at Quidditch glory
With more than 200 ASUI recognized clubs and organizations, it’s hard to believe something might have been missing from the spectrum of opportunities available. But for the first time, the University of Idaho is now home to an official Quidditch team.
Andrew Wilson, the club’s founder and current president, said Quidditch is a sport that anyone can play and being a fan of the books is not a requirement.
“You don’t have to like Harry Potter to like Quidditch,” Wilson said. “I kind of disassociate them myself anymore because I don’t spend a lot of time reading Harry Potter but I spend a lot of time thinking about Quidditch.”
Wilson said he began playing Quidditch in high school when he and some friends learned about the sport online.
“My friends and I got together and actually played it in high school and I’ve just been meaning to bring it here,” Wilson said.
The sport of Quidditch was adapted in 2005 by students at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. and is now played at more than 300 universities and high schools in the U.S. and 12 countries.
The International Quidditch Association (IQA) is a non-profit organization that is responsible for developing and maintaining the rules, regulations and safety guidelines for the sport. The 172-page IQA handbook includes the full set of rules for the sport, information about starting and maintaining a team, hoop construction guidelines, a referee guidebook and a complete list of referee signals.
“You play it just like the sport in the books and in the movies except you play it on the ground obviously,” Wilson said. “You do still have brooms … you have the same seven positions on each team. The only real major difference is an extra bludger which works for balancing the game, and the snitch is a human and when you touch it it’s only worth 30 points.”
In the Harry Potter series, the Snitch is a small gold ball that flies and acts on it’s own. A player known as the seeker is responsible for chasing the snitch and attempting to capture it. In the live sport of Quidditch the snitch is a person.
“He or she lives outside the game … they don’t have to follow the rules. They can throw you down,” Wilson said.
“Whoever wants to be the snitch can be the snitch because they do get to have the most fun … it’s never really a problem to find a snitch,” Wilson said.
The IQA posts the rankings for all teams on it’s website and eligible teams may qualify for the Quidditch World Cup, hosted by the IQA.
Wilson said that if there is enough interest, the team will compete against schools from around the region. He said he is currently communicating with Gonzaga University and several universities in Utah about possible match-ups. He said the team has also been invited to several tournaments already.
“I want to make sure we’re going to make sure we have enough people to play before I commit to playing other teams,” Wilson said. “At this point – until we have the meeting – there’s no official club members. I’m organizing it and I gathered all the equipment so that we can play as soon as we’re ready.”
The first Quidditch team meeting took place Sept. 6, but students who were unable to attend still have the opportunity to participate even if they don’t know anything about the game.
“You don’t really need to know anything. We’re going to teach everyone the game,” Wilson said. “If you don’t like Harry Potter you might still like the sport of real life Quidditch and if you do like Harry Potter that just adds to the excitement of playing.”
Quidditch is a contact sport with seven athletes per team that play four different positions and use three different balls, according to the International Qudditch Association. Every player has a broom between their legs at all times.
Three players per side are called chasers. Their objective is to score 10-point goals with a quaffle — or volleyball. They can run with it, pass it or kick it. Each team has a keeper, who defends the goal hoops from chasers.
Two players per side are called beaters. They use three bludgers, or dodgeballs, to disrupt the flow of the game by “knocking out” other players. Knocked out players are temporarily removed and must drop any balls, return and touch their side’s goal before re-entering.
Each team has a seeker whose job it is to snatch the snitch. The snitch is a tennis ball inside a yellow sock which is tucked into the waistband of the snitch runner, much like a flag football. The snitch runner is not on either team, does not use a broom, and can use any means to avoid “capture,” including physical contact like wrestling takedowns or trickery.
Players who commit fouls during the game face consequences depending on the severity.
A game of quidditch does not end until the snitch has been cleanly snatched, which earns the team an extra thirty points. If the score is tied after the snatch, the match proceeds into overtime.
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org