Strange College Sports That Really Exist

The world of varsity athletics isn’t all football and basketball. There are a lot more kooky options to get the student body going rah-rah-siss-boom-bah.

Quidditch

Quidditch

The most popular sport in the “wizarding world” of the Harry Potter books and films is quidditch. It’s played by wizards and witches, so there’s a certain amount of magic involved. Like an airborne version of lacrosse, players ride flying broomsticks as they try to hit a ball through a floating goal…although the game is instantly over if the team’s designated “Seeker” catches “the Golden Snitch,” a tiny, enchanted golden ball with a mind of its own. Since flying broomsticks and Golden Snitches aren’t real, it’s impossible to play real quidditch, but “muggle quidditch” has caught on as a sport at colleges in the U.S. and Europe. (“Muggle” is what wizards call nonmagical humans in the Potter books.) Muggle quidditch players hold a broomstick between their legs and run around a field, trying to score goals. The stand-in for the Golden Snitch is a human dressed all in yellow and runs around the field. He is “caught” if somebody pulls the flag sticking out of his or her pants. U.S. Quidditch is the official governing body of the sport (seriously), and it maintains a ranking of more than 100 college and amateur teams.

Octopush

Do you like water polo but think it’s got too much above-water action, such as not breathing through a snorkel? Then octopush, or underwater hockey, is the sport for you. It was created by a scuba diving club in England in the ’50s as a way to keep club members at the pool instead of skipping down for the beach, it involves two teams of eight players each using stick to push a weighted puck around the bottom of the pool. The puck doesn’t float, but players are allowed to surface for the occasional air break; otherwise, they have to hold their breath while pushing past defenders to score a goal. Only about a dozen colleges have an octopush team, including Oxford, M.I.T., and Mount Hood Community College in Portland, Oregon.

Quidditch

The most popular sport in the “wizarding world” of the Harry Potter books and films is quidditch. It’s played by wizards and witches, so there’s a certain amount of magic involved. Like an airborne version of lacrosse, players ride flying broomsticks as they try to hit a ball through a floating goal…although the game is instantly over if the team’s designated “Seeker” catches “the Golden Snitch,” a tiny, enchanted golden ball with a mind of its own. Since flying broomsticks and Golden Snitches aren’t real, it’s impossible to play real quidditch, but “muggle quidditch” has caught on as a sport at colleges in the U.S. and Europe. (“Muggle” is what wizards call nonmagical humans in the Potter books.) Muggle quidditch players hold a broomstick between their legs and run around a field, trying to score goals. The stand-in for the Golden Snitch is a human dressed all in yellow and runs around the field. He is “caught” if somebody pulls the flag sticking out of his or her pants. U.S. Quidditch is the official governing body of the sport (seriously), and it maintains a ranking of more than 100 college and amateur teams.

Dodgeball

That game from elementary school in which kids pummel each other with balls has been kept alive through the educational system all the way into college. The National Collegiate Dodgeball Association boasts a membership of 31 teams from colleges across the country, including the University of Virginia and Ohio State University. While rules for dodgeball vary from elementary school to elementary school and gym teacher to gym teacher, the NCDA has a codified rule system that makes the game universal. In their system, teams consist of 15 players and games are held on a standard basketball court, split in half and with a “neutral zone.” Slightly under-inflated rubber balls are the equipment of choice, and it’s one of the few college sports in which men and women play on the same teams.