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Quidditch World Cup Comes to New York City in November

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Perhaps one of the dorkiest things to hit college campuses since the first physics club, Quidditch, the mythical sport from the Harry Potter series, is now an actual mainstream event, apparently. This years’ fourth annual Quidditch World Cup will be held in New York in November, with 50 teams from schools including Harvard, BU, and Yale participating. A piece in the Wall Street Journal today tackles the growing pains of the young “sport.”

Among said growing pains, the first step seems to be getting accepted at all. Take the NYU Quidditch team, as profiled in the Washington Square News:

Despite efforts to gain university recognition, the Quidditch Club has been denied official club status by both the Coles Sports Center and the Center for Student Activities, Leadership, and Service.

Why? Well, NYU considers Quidditch neither a sport nor a club, really. Although very physical and competitive (ahem), it’s not a recognized sport. But it can’t be a club because it is in fact athletic. Or, more simply, as team captain Sarah Landis told us, “It’s mostly a matter of insurance problems that they cannot sponsor our team.” Regardless, the team is playing anyway, as an independent group made up of NYU students. “Practices have been going really well,” says Landis. “We have a lot of great players, but we’re going to be going up against a lot of more experienced ones. “

Despite what NYU says, the game does have definite rules and points, just like a sport. A new official rulebook just released by the IQA (the International Quidditch Association) details them formally.

The guys at Geekologie explain the game as succinctly as possible:

As in the fictional game, each Muggle Quidditch team has seven players: three chasers, two beaters, a keeper, and a seeker. Chasers score points by throwing a quaffle, or volleyball, through one of three hoops (worth 10 points) while trying to avoid bludgers, or dodgeballs, that are thrown by beaters. (If chasers are hit by a bludger, they must drop the quaffle.) The keeper’s job is to protect the three goalposts, while the seeker must capture the snitch — a sock stuffed with tennis balls carried by a person (typically a cross-country runner) dressed in gold. Capturing the snitch nets an additional 30 points and ends the game.

Weird, yes, but at the end of the day, is Quidditch really so strange compared to other sports at their origins? Basketball was started by a Canadian gym teacher when his students got bored. People threw a ball into a basket that had the bottom cut out. Now it’s this.

If the 44 million Potter fans around the world (according to copies sold of the seventh book in J.K. Rowling’s series) have anything to say about it, it won’t be long before ESPN dedicates a whole channel to the game. But, can we get rid of the capes? Those seem like a liability.

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