Support us with Kachingle!
December 9, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Members of the Mizzou Quidditch team scrimmage on MU’s Francis Quadrangle on Sunday, December 5, 2010. One of the founders of Mizzou Quidditch, Erin Weinrick, describes how the beginning of each match works. The team is hoping to become a recognized organization on the MU campus.
Despite the freezing rain and the cold wind nipping at any exposed body parts, 25 Quidditch players show up at MU’s Francis Quadrangle. Donning sweatpants and carrying brooms, they wait for play to begin and the Snitch to be released. Then chaos ensues. It’s exactly — but not really — as J.K. Rowling envisioned it.
Quidditch is a sport played by wizards in the internationally renowned “Harry Potter” book series. In the novels, Quidditch is the wizarding world’s equivalent of soccer. It is massively popular among magical beings, and its largest tournament is even called the World Cup. Recently, however, the sport has jumped off the pages of the fictional series and become a reality in the “Muggle,” or nonwizarding, world. This includes MU, where students are trying to create a Quidditch team.
“I am a pretty big Harry Potter fan, and I play soccer,” says Cody Roush, a junior at MU and a Quidditch player. ”I was looking for another contact sport to play, and it just felt right.”
To compensate for the lack of magic in the Muggle world, Quidditch had to be tweaked to replace the enchanted equipment used in the book. The most glaring issue was the fact that flying brooms don’t exist, yet — but give it some time. Instead, players must always have a regular broom between their legs, or they will be penalized.
Teams consist of seven players. Each team includes three Chasers who attempt to throw the Quaffle through one of three hoops being defended by the other team’s Keeper. If they succeed, their teams are awarded 10 points. Each team also has two Beaters, whose roles in the books differ from this Muggle play. Instead of protecting players from the dreaded flying Bludgers, the Beater’s job is to hit players with the Bludgers, a.k.a. dodgeballs. Any player besides the Keeper who is hit is temporarily taken out of the game.
Seekers are responsible for finding the Snitch, which is no longer a tiny golden ball with wings but rather a tennis ball stuffed in a tube sock and attached to the Snitch runner. The Snitch runners’s job is to evade capture by the Seekers. When a team retrieves the Snitch, the game ends and the points are tallied.
On the weekend of Nov. 13, 46 teams gathered in New York City for the fourth annual International Quidditch World Cup. Some of the country’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard and Yale, fielded teams. The sport is becoming so big that there is a movement to get it officially recognized by the NCAA. With its popularity crossing the country, it’s not surprising that the craze hit Columbia.
MU students Erin Weinrick and Wendy Walden came up with the idea to form an MU Quidditch team in hopes of being officially recognized by the university. The first step, finding players, was the easiest.
“I was really surprised,” Weinrick says. “We got a lot of laughs while we were handing out the fliers, but the people who were interested were really excited.”
The difficult part is getting the administration to accept their request to be an official organization. Because the sport is still new, there is no required safety gear, which presents liability issues. Risk management staff must deem the sport safe before the team and sport will be recognized.
“The brooms have been the biggest issue,” Walden says, “but we try to get people to wear goggles, shin-guards, mouth guards and stuff like that.”
The organization is looking for a faculty advisor to sponsor the team. Then they will draft a constitution. Because other colleges have already formed teams, MU players’ hopes are high. It’s probably just a matter of time before people are tailgating, butterbeer in hand, before their team’s Quidditch match. Anyone interested in playing can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recognized or not, Quidditch will be played by those seeking imagination-fueled fun. “I’ve loved Harry Potter for half my life, and I love sports,” Weinrick says. “It’s a fun mix of fantasy and sports.”