Even if you’ve never read J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books or seen the film adaptations, you’ve still probably heard of quidditch, the broomstick-brandishing sport that forms an integral part of her wizarding world. (This article was first published in Who Knew?)
Not Just for Wizards
In Rowling’s novels, it’s a sport that’s been played for nearly 1,000 years by the magical folk who, unbeknown to us, exist alongside us “muggles,” or regular non-magic humans. It’s a seven-a-side aerial game that features four balls-a Quaffle, two Bludgers, and a Golden Snitch. Each team has three goal hoops at each end of the arena, and the aim of the game is to score the most points by throwing the Quaffle through these goal hoops. The Bludgers are thrown by the defensive players to protect their goals, and the game ends when the Golden Snitch-a smaller ball with wings-is caught by either team. You’ll ever see a muggle chasing a Golden Snitch in Rowling’s fictional world, but a real-life quidditch phenomenon has swept the world, and you don’t even have to be a Harry Potter fan to play.
The Real-Life Rules
To all intents and purposes, real-life quidditch is very similar to its magic counterpart. In this mixed-gender contact sport, two teams of seven are pitted against each other. According to the International Quidditch Association, players must wear colored headbands to identify themselves as either the keeper, who guards the hoops at each end of the field where points are scored; the seeker, who must chase the “snitch runner”; a chaser, who scores goals by throwing or kicking a volleyball through the hoops; or a beater, who must prevent the other team from scoring points by throwing dodge balls at them.
Making Magic Around The World
The real-life International Quidditch Association serves some 20 national governing bodies across six continents. With teams in 26 countries, quidditch has become a popular sport for fans of Harry Potter and those who just love the game itself. Just like in the books, quidditch has its own World Cup, which has taken place every two years since 2012. The 2016 IQA World Cup was held in Frankfurt, Germany, and over 20 teams competed, including Slovenia, Brazil, and South Korea; Australia won the tournament.