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Exploring the world of quidditch

by Matthew Coyte October 25, 2016
Exploring the world of quidditch

The fictional sport from Harry Potter—re-imagined for muggles

Thomas Rayment, a student at the University of British Colombia, goes to practice five times a week, some of which last three hours. Each practice begins with a warm up, where the team does conditioning similar to that of a track team. Then, they split up into position-specific group coaching. The team ends their practice with a scrimmage.

The tryouts were described by Rayment as “intense” and “super aggressive.”

No, this isn’t the life of a varsity rugby or football player. Rayment is one of many participating in an up-and-coming sport in Canada: quidditch.

That’s right, the magical sport from the Harry Potter franchise has been brought to life and is gathering momentum all over the world with thousands of players participating, according to Quidditch Canada.

To Harry Potter fans, this may seem like a cute activity, but don’t knock the athleticism of its players. Quidditch is a sport that requires a great deal of stamina, strength and skill. Those familiar with the sport, either from the Harry Potter books, movies or the organized leagues, know how difficult it is to play. Players don’t wear any equipment, yet it’s a full-contact game.

During his time with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds quidditch team, Rayment said that scrapes and bruises were a regular part of the game.

Founded two years ago, Quidditch Canada hosts tournaments all over the country. The sport has especially taken off on university campuses. There are school teams emerging from coast to coast, including at McGill University and the University of British Columbia. The level of competition varies, but like any sport, everyone wants to win. However, according to Rayment, the athletes aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

Montreal is a particular hotspot for Canadian quidditch. The first team in Canada was started at McGill back in 2008. Université de Montréal has since followed suit, becoming the second competitive team in the city. The city’s Centre Père Sablon even offers quidditch camps for younger kids who are looking to try the sport.

The game’s transition from book to real life has been smoother than one would think. The rules, positions and scoring scheme have managed to stay consistent in their voyage from Hogwarts.

Unfortunately, us muggles have yet to discover the spell for flying brooms or for speedy golf ball snitches. However, these don’t seem to be a problem.

Players are required to keep their brooms between their legs at all times. This makes running a challenge, and it doesn’t help that players also have to pass the ball—the quaffle, which is used for scoring—and dodge the bludgers—which are used to send a player back to their hoops, dodgeball style. Players who are knocked off their brooms by a tackle have to return to their hoops before they can rejoin the game. As for the elusive snitch, the sport got creative.

Concordia does not have a team yet, but McGill does.

In muggle quidditch, the snitch is a person with a “tail” attached to the back of their pants. The snitch is either the fastest or the biggest player on the field. An important rule is that the “seekers,” the only players allowed to catch the snitch, cannot actually touch the snitch. However, the snitches can push, shove, tackle—basically do anything and everything necessary to not get caught. To catch the snitch, the seeker must pull the flag attached to the snitch’s shorts.

“The funniest thing I’ve ever seen involving a snitch was one time where they picked up a seeker by both ends of their broom like a spit roast pig, and used them as a shield from other players,” Rayment said.

In accordance with the original rules, quidditch is a sport for both men and women, and teams must have both genders on the field at all times. This makes it one of the few sports to have a co-ed rule built into the game.

Quidditch is an intriguing sport for several reasons. It began as a fictional game—not many sports can claim that. Secondly, it’s such a new phenomenon. When was the last time anyone got to watch a sport emerge and gain popularity all over the world? Many sports are hundreds of years old, so it’s fascinating to watch quidditch evolve so quickly from the big screen to fields all over Canada.

While Concordia does not have a team or any intramural options for the sport, it’s only a matter of time before the “Potterheads” of Loyola and Sir George Williams hop on their brooms to follow the lead of other Canadian universities.

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