Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So Quidditch isn't just a preschool sport anymore -

Last year - at her preschool - Julia taught the other kids how to play Quidditch. Kids who had never heard of Harry Potter, suddenly she's the coach for a game that's about flying, bludgers, snitches on the preschool playground. She went to visit after leaving and they flocked around her - "Julia, let's play Quidditch." Seriously, she wants her own Firebolt.

But now I think she should perhaps practice a bit more to gear up for a college team - perhaps a Quidditch scholarship is in order? I'm psyched to see that my alma mater Cornell may have a team soon -

...from the Amherst Student

Quidditch: Taking Off at Amherst?
By Robyn Bahr. Published Wednesday December 5, 2007

Muggles of Amherst, unite! To play Quidditch, of course.

No, this is no Fred and George Weasley-worthy prank. The official wizarding sport of the United Kingdom and most of the world (excluding the United States, which prefers a variant game known as “Quodpot”) will hopefully be making a permanent appearance at a local Northeastern liberal arts college near you next fall.

That’s right. Quidditch might be coming to Amherst.

In last Wednesday’s issue of USA Today, which featured a piece on the increasing popularity of collegiate Quidditch, co-founder of Middlebury’s team, Alex Benepe ’09 was quoted saying that he plans to recruit other nearby colleges into forming an intercollegiate league next spring. Middlebury’s Quidditch team has been widely regarded as the premier squad among roughly 50 schools across the nation since it started the craze in fall 2005.

Benepe told USA Today, “My vision is to get a couple van-loads of Middlebury players, all of the necessary equipment and Snitch runners, and travel to four to five colleges in the Northeast and get some games going.” According to the article, Amherst, along with Williams College and Colgate University, are among the schools on his roster.

Quidditch is a complicated but exhilarating sport played (and worshipped) by Harry Potter and his friends in the beloved book series and respected movie franchise. The game, which by nature is rapidly paced and often violent, holds a fervent following in the wizarding world like that of European football. It is played in the air, with each of the teams’ seven players mounted on broomsticks. In Muggle Quidditch, players must run around the field with broomsticks sandwiched between their legs. There are four balls: one Quaffle, two Bludgers and the Golden Snitch.

Three chasers play offense, passing the Quaffle (a somewhat — deflated volleyball in the earthbound game) among themselves as they make their way to the opposite side of the field, where the Keeper (goalie) guards three hoops that resemble the little bubble wands that children use. One goal is worth 10 points.

In the meantime, two Beaters chuck small, dark and dense Bludgers at opposing players to divert their attention and keep them from scoring. Bludgers are probably the most dangerous aspect of the wizarding game because they are enchanted to inflict as much harm as possible on opposing team members. Fortunately, the Muggle variant does not involve the same risk of injury. This, however, does not mean that the grounded game is fairy play. In Muggle Quidditch, once a Bludger strikes a player, he loses possession of the Quaffle and must go to his goal zone before resuming the chase.

Finally the Seeker, usually the fastest player on the team, must capture the elusive Snitch, a tiny winged object the size of a golf ball that flitters around the pitch. The capturing of the Snitch signals the end of the game and awards the Seeker’s team an extra 150 points in the original game and 50 points in the adopted one.

Muggle Quidditch uses a Snitch that dangles from a sock protruding from the back pocket of a swift cross-country who has the run of the campus and must return to the field every 10 minutes so that the game does not become too drawn-out. (At Marlboro College in Vermont, the Snitch is played by a toy helicopter that must be seized before it smashes into the ground.)

Although Benepe has yet to contact the colleges on his list, he is “determined to follow through on [the spring trip].” According to him, Quidditch is adored at Middlebury even though it is not an official club sport. His team gets most of its money through fundraising and special funds the college sets aside for “things like this.”

Although most of Benepe’s teammates (about 150 regular players) participate for the love of the game and love of the Harry Potter series, they are also serious about the athleticism Quidditch demands.

“The game itself has a tendency to get very rough — I have seen headlocks, body slams, slide tackling, body tackling and pile drivers, not to mention the occasional accidental elbow or broom to the face (which is why all players must wear lacrosse goggles). I try to encourage clean playing but I do not want to burden players with too many rules, as creative plays are a very vital part of the game,” says Benepe.

The game is spreading to college campuses across the nation. The “Intercollegiate Quidditch Association” Facebook group, which boasts over 1,000 members, has almost 40 colleges listed on its rota, including Amherst. It has even spawned a number of YouTube videos documenting the games, which are surprisingly vigorous but amusing — a love child between soccer and lacrosse hyped-up on Sugar Quills and Fizzing Whizbees.

Benepe says that students interested in starting Quidditch teams at Amherst or other schools must secure a centrally located field on campus and publicize the event to attract at least 100 potential players and spectators. They would also need to make meals and sleeping arrangements for as many as 20 to 30 visiting players. The Middlebury team plans to bring the necessary equipment, which includes brooms, pinnies, hoops, banners and the Snitch.

“By next fall I predict that over 100 schools will have a quidditch team or league up and running, and a good handful of them should be present at the World Cup next november.”

If Middlebury succeeds in recruiting Amherst into an intercollegiate Quidditch league, it can potentially be the most exciting phenomenon to ever hit the campus. That is, if the game can draw enough Amherstians to participate.

Taking part in this league would most likely have Amherst playing against Middlebury, Vassar, Union, Dartmouth and Marlboro Colleges and Cornell University, among others.

So, here’s to hoping that the Amherst Acromantulas will kick their arses.

Robyn Bahr owns many first-edition Harry Potter action figures that would have been worth hundreds of dollars if she hadn’t opened the boxes to play with them.

Also - this article in USA TODAY by Craig Wilson has some great muggle quidditch footage attached...with these rules that I think I need to explain to Julia ASAP:


So, here's how Quidditch is played according to earthbound rules:

Brooms are required, leaving only one hand available, making the game harder as you chase the game ball, a slightly deflated volleyball.

Each team has seven players.

Three chasers throw the ball among them as they work down the field. If they get it through one of three circular goals (think hula hoops on poles), the team scores 10 points.

At the same time, two other team members fling around dark balls called bludgers in an attempt to distract and knock over opposing players. When a player is hit with a bludger, he must drop any ball he is holding and run back to his goal zone before he can make any more plays.

Seekers try to catch the most elusive ball, the Golden Snitch. In the Rowling books, the Snitch flies about independently. In real life, it hangs in a sock from the shorts of a player selected for fleetness of foot. The Snitch disappears for periods of time, reappearing on the field to shrieks of the crowd. The Snitch player has a much larger boundary than the others, often covering a large part of campus. Seekers can follow him. Catching the Snitch is worth 50 points, and once the Snitch is caught, the game ends.


Anonymous said...

"European Football"...
It's FOOTBALL, period. The game played in America is American Football. The game played in Europe (and invented in the UK) IS football.

Thank you, I'll go back to snoozing in my comfy armchair now.

Anonymous said...

This rocks
I will try to start this up at my middle

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Viagra said...

That sounds like a fun activity!