Quidditch…the sports sensation that’s “sweeping” the nation!
Listen up, sports fans…there’s a new game in town. Ok, it’s not in E-town YET, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it here very soon. This new sport is called Quidditch, and it began in 2005 in Middlebury, Vermont, when Xander Manshel adapted the rules from Harry Potter novels. That’s right, this game was based upon a fictional sport, which was invented by J.K. Rowling, and was played in the novels upon actual flying broomsticks! There was a golden flying ball called a snitch, which flew about until a player called the seeker caught it, thereby ending the game. Besides the seekers, positions were keeper, which is a goalie, chasers, who try to score by throwing a ball called the quaffle through one of 3 goal hoops, and beaters, who pelt the chasers with balls called bludgers, in order to prevent them from scoring. Most of the basic play in the real game is the same, with the exception that the brooms don’t fly, and the snitch is a person dressed in gold or yellow. Think of it as a marriage of dodge ball, basketball, flag football, and rugby
I traveled to Stillwater this weekend to witness this sport firsthand. Oklahoma State University hosted a tournament dubbed The Cowboy Cup, which was attended by ten teams from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska. All were collegiate teams, save one, Jenks High School. I am a big fan of the Harry Potter novels, and was extremely excited to see how this game would look in the real world. I expected to be amused by the sight of people galloping around the field with brooms between their legs, and I was. What I did NOT expect was how completely thrilling the actual sport would be. There was so much action, one could scarcely take their eyes off the field for fear of missing a spectacular tumble, goal, or save. The snitches and seekers are allowed to run anywhere…and I mean anywhere. It was common to see seekers running through other games after their own snitch, or to see a snitch waving at the poor seekers from the top of the football stadium hundreds of yards from the playing field. There were incredible wrestling matches between keepers and chasers, players being knocked off their brooms, and all the while the announcers kept the crowd entertained with Harry Potter references and fake British accents. Just to be sure that I would not be biased in my reporting, I brought along some people who had seen the Harry Potter movies, but are not huge fans, as I am. They were completely mystified by how entertaining, and athletic the sport is. I daresay if we were not all several years out of college, the teams could have had some new recruits from the spectator section. I was struck by the dedication that all of the teams had to their sport, and by all the hard work that was put into the event. Quidditch players don’t have “people” who set up and tear down, and make concessions. They do it all themselves…for the love of the game.
All of the teams played their hearts out, and were muddy, tired, and bruised by the end of the afternoon (five hours of match play!), and the championship game found Southwestern Oklahoma State University pitted against Kansas University. The game ended quicker than most, with Kansas taking home the 1st place trophy which was lovingly constructed by the host team, OSU. All in all, it was a brilliant day of sportsmanship, athleticism, camaraderie and entertainment, and I for one, cannot wait to see more Quidditch! Any high school or college can form a team and become recognized by the International Quidditch Association, and I’d love to see some local schools get started. For more information on Quidditch, or on starting your own team, visit http://www.