By Lynda Lopez
December 29, 2009
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – When JK Rowling debuted her Harry Potter series, the sports world added a new game to their list: Quidditch. The sport has often been regarded as a game only imaginable in the mind of the author. However, several college campuses across the U.S. have transformed Qudditch into a real sport. Without the flying, that is.
David Bridgman Packer, a sophomore at Vassar College in N.Y., has been playing Quidditch for a few years now and has fallen in love with the game. “Quidditch tends to start out as a hobby and quickly consume your life,” he says. “Our team started out with 2-3 hour practices twice a week and then grew to include team dinners (lovingly titled quinner), movie nights, bake sales and matches with other schools.”
College Quidditch is played almost identically to the Harry Potter version. Students must stay on a broom throughout the game and play their position of beater, seeker, or chaser. Juan Pablo Munoz, a beater on Harvard’s Quidditch team, explains his role in the team. “As a beater, you’re playing against the opposing team’s beaters for control of the bludgers, against the chasers and keeper of the other team for control of the quaffle,” he says. “Being a beater is tough, but it is so much fun.”
Quidditch first became a viable sport within the college community when the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association was founded by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe of Middlebury College in Vermont. It officially began when the first Quidditch match took place between Middlebury and Vassar in 2005.
“We worked hard to emphasize that this game is not just for Harry Potter fans,” says Benepe. “Anyone can enjoy it, whether they love Harry Potter or have never read a single word of it.” Over 300 colleges in the country participate in Quidditch in some manner.
Despite Quidditch’s popular appeal, some people don’t think it’s a serious sport. “My problem with the rise of Quidditch in real life is simply with the brooms,” says David Lee, a 2007 graduate of Vassar College. “With the singular exception of making its players look like idiots, there is no athletic or sport–related function to running around with brooms between their legs,” Lee says.
Molly St Clair, a sophomore at Middlebury, says Quidditch is not supposed to be a serious sport. “That’s what makes this sport so different from any other competitive sport, and I think people are starting to catch on to the good-natured fun of it,” she says.