Queer, Quaffle, Quidditch Everything you need to know about the not-so-magical sport
Photo credits: Patrick Giardino
When we hear “Quidditch”, most of us think of a popular sport played by witches and wizards in books and movies that are as far away from reality as one can get. A fact known to a select few is that Quidditch is as real as it gets and has no connection to the Harry Potter franchise aside from its origin. If anything, Quidditch is exactly the kind of shakedown our sports culture needs, as it is not only novel and creative, but it’s also making great strides in giving a safe and nurturing place for members of every orientation and ethnicity to partake in competitive sport.
To give some background on how Quidditch actually works, here are the basics, although, in Quidditch there is no such thing as basic:
Each team is made up of seven players: three chasers, two beaters, one keeper, and one seeker. The chasers are the ones who try to score points through any of three large hoops on the opponent’s side of the field with a ball called the quaffle while the keeper is basically the goalie of their teams’ hoops. The beaters’ goal, one that seems downright uncivil, is to shoot balls called bludgers at the keepers so that, when hit, the players will have to take their brooms out from between their legs (there are brooms, but not ones you fly on), and go back to their team’s hoops and reenter the game from there. Perhaps the most famous of positions is that of the seeker whose sole job is to try to catch the snitch. Since we do not live in a world where golden balls have wings and torment their beloved seekers, the game has been adapted so that the snitch is now an impartial figure with a tennis ball in a sock-like contraption hanging from their shorts.
When asked why it is so difficult to catch the snitch given that it is not a tiny bewitched ball, a representative from the quidditch team at the University of Ottawa said, “In a way it’s just like the books where the snitch actively avoids you, but in real life, it’s a person with what is essentially a football flag on the back of their shorts… seekers aren’t allowed to physically contact the snitch, but the snitch can do whatever they want, from holding their shoulders to keep them back to grabbing their broom and throwing it away!”
Given the amount of rules, positions, and overall chaos contained in merely one sport, one might come to the conclusion that the reason that Quidditch isn’t as well known or popular as even ultimate frisbee or curling is because of how complicated it is. According to bona fide Quidditch players, however, the complicated nature of the game is what makes it worth playing: “…the unique nature of Quidditch is that up to four people could do something fantastic at the same time (a chaser scoring, two beaters beating and a seeker catching the snitch) whereas in other sports there’s only ever one ball-carrier at a time,” stated the games coordinator of the Manchester Quidditch team.
Although there are many characteristics of the sport that make it different from other sports, what makes Quidditch truly a unique sport is its unmatched welcoming community. Not only does the Quidditch community enable the creation of long lasting friendships, relationships, and memories, but it also fosters an inclusion that reaches beyond the typical to the members of society who have perhaps felt that playing sports was impossible for them given their identity.
Quidditch is a co-ed sport that allows a maximum of four members of the same gender on the same team at a given time and is one of the first sports to recognize non-binary status and not disciminate against gender identity for the sake of regulations. Instead of counting them as male or female, non-binary persons are counted just as they are - non-binary. This is only one of the ways in which Quidditch as a sport is embracing everyone as humans instead of by appearances or labels, as well as making great efforts to spread their anti-racism and anti-oppression of minorities. “We are just humans playing sports…at the end of the day we’re all wearing the same jersey,” said the president of the Montreal Flamingos Quidditch team.
An important step in ensuring that this level of inclusion is maintained is distancing the sport from its creator, J. K. Rowling, and her infamous transphobic views which are in direct contrast with the progressivene and inclusive nature of the Quidditch community. In an effort to distance themselves from their creator, the major Quidditch leagues in the U. S. are looking for alternative names for the sport, all the suggested options retaining the first letter, Q, it being the staple of the name. Suggested names include Quidstrike, Quadraball, Quickball, and Quicker. With the U. S. being the largest influencer in these sorts of matters, it is only logical that once they decide on a suitable replacement the rest of the world will follow suit and adopt the new name.
The only problem with this plan, according to actual players of the sport, is that all of the suggested replacement names sound silly and unattractive. Along with the fact that people already see Quidditch as a frivolous activity given its affiliation with the Harry Potter franchise, if the actual name becomes taunt-worthy then the entire future of the sport will be jeopardized, and Quidditch will never gain the recognition and dignity that it has always been deserving of. However, since it is paramount that the name should be changed in order to emancipate itself from J. K. Rowling, the Quidditch community is ready to put in all the time and effort needed in order to see that the task gets done.
Harry Potter is not the defining quality of Quidditch and neither is its mother, J. K.. In this case, the apple fell far from the tree, an entire Quidditch pitch away you might say (55m by 33m), and is only planning on going farther for the sake of the progressive inclusivity for which it is celebrated. It is a crime, indeed, that more people do not consider Quidditch on their top lists of sports, attend games, or even participate! Quidditch might be a sport that doesn’t get talked about enough, but that is easily rectified as we can all do our part and spread the word (the word being Quidditch) because this is a sport that definitely needs all the love it can get given how hard it’s been trying to love every person that walks onto its pitch and sticks a broom between their legs. Hopefully, one day, we might heighten the name of Quidditch to the point where we will all be able to attend a Quidditch world cup as an alternative to the superbowl because let’s be honest: it sounds a hell of a lot more fun.