In anticipation of the final Harry Potter film, which comes out tonight at midnight, the International Quidditch Association hosted a Deathly Hollows Round-Robin Tournament at De Witt Clinton Park on 53rd Street yesterday. Three teams were in attendance, and every team played at least four games. While we were there, a crew from the Daily Show walked over from their studio across the street to get some footage for a sketch.
The sport, commonly known as “muggle quidditch,” is an adaptation of the game played in J.K. Rowling’s novels. Some changes have been made to make up for the unfortunate lack of magic in the human world, but ultimately the game holds true to the books, all the way down to requiring every player on the pitch to ride a broomstick at all times.
The official rules state:
• This [the broom] is the most essential equipment item of the game. All players must hold the broom between their legs at all times.
• No forms of artificial attachment are allowed. You must hold it with one hand or grip it with your thighs. Any play made without the broom in place is an illegal play and will not count.
• Note: Some wimpy players whine about the broom – “how can we play with one hand?” and learning how to do that is the beauty of Quidditch.
In the series, the golden snitch was a tiny ball with wings that would fly around the pitch evading the two seekers. To recreate the unpredictability of the snitch, muggle quidditch replaced the ball with a cross country runner dressed from head to toe in yellow. The runner in muggle quidditch tucks a yellow sock, which has a tennis ball at the bottom, into his waistband, and spends the match attempting to prevent the seekers from retrieving it. The runner is called the “snitch runner,” and the tennis ball is referred to as the “snitch.”
Yesterday, the snitch was Fordham University student Kyle Clonan. He plays baseball and runs cross-country and track, but his favorite sport is quidditch. “I love snitching, there’s nothing like it,” he told us. At one point in the game, Clonan climbed the 10-foot-tall fence that surrounds the park to avoid the seekers, but one of them was able to chase after him and retrieve the ball from his shorts.
Yesterday’s event served two purposes: As well as celebrating the end of the Harry Potter film series, the International Quidditch Association (IQA) was raising awareness about the Quidditch World Cup, this November on Randall Island. Tickets are already on sale, with 100 teams slated to compete. The IQA expects that more than 30,000 spectators to attend.
Since the sport’s creation in 2007 at Middlebury College, more than 300 schools have created teams. IQA Commissioner Alex Benepe credits the sport’s growth to its ability to appeal to both die-hard Harry Potter fans and athletes who haven’t necessarily read the books. Yesterday, the spectators were a mix of curious passersby and hardcore Harry Potter fans who discussed plans to purchase artisan wands for the premiere of the new film.