Photo courtesy of Zack Armantrading Photography

Intense Quadball action at the 2022 Sin City Classic


Quidditch is A Real Sport

If you mixed hockey and soccer played on a pitch shaped like a large oval, put a dozen or so witches and wizards on flying broomsticks trying to smack quaffles into one of a trio of goals the size of Hula Hoops placed at each end of that pitch, sprinkle in a ton of chaos and a little harmless violence, you’d essentially have Quidditch, the sport described by J.K. Rowling in her beloved Harry Potter franchise.

The game was first moved off the pages of Rowling’s books and somehow onto terrestrial earth officially in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont by Alex Benepe and Xander Manshel, who we suspect are muggles.

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Magical or not, since then the game has spread to at least 40 countries and nearly 600 teams and even has a few international competitive associations dedicated to fostering its growth and development.

Recent developments have caused several of those organizations to begin seriously discussing dropping the beloved "Quidditch" moniker from its name. For starters, Warner Brothers, the production company for the Harry Potter movie franchise, still owns the trademark rights to the name. However, the primary motivation has been Rowling herself, who has made a series of tweets and follow-up comments that have been vehemently anti-Trans.

This became official yesterday in a bold and unequivocal statement as several organizations across the world announced they were formally moving away from the Quidditch name and into a new era.

Among those organizations were two in the United States, U.S. Quadball (USQ) and Major League Quadball (MLQ). The two organizations have lead this discussion internationally and even issued a joint statement condemning Rowling’s comments last year. “Our sport has developed a reputation as one of the most progressive sports in the world on gender equality and inclusivity, in part thanks to its gender maximum rule, which stipulates that a team may not have more than four players of the same gender on the field at a time.”

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In their joint statement yesterday announcing the name changes, USQ and MLQ said, “Both organizations feel it is imperative to live up to this reputation in all aspects of their operations and believe this move is a step in that direction.”

While USQ has already officially adopted the new name, MLQ has said it will officially adopt it with its MLQ Championships in Maryland next month.

Among the many places Quadball is played at is The Sin City Classic, the largest annual LGBTQ sporting event in the world, which takes place in Las Vegas. The next event will be from January 12 – 15, 2023. This tournament is sanctioned by U.S. Quadball.

Since its earthy, non-fictional inception, the sport has evolved to resemble dodgeball, lacrosse, and rugby more closely.

Quadball is played with a volleyball as the quaffle, dodgeballs as the bludgers, and a neutral player running around with a yellow velcro tail attached to the back of their waist as the golden snitch. Of course, all the players are jockeying for position and trying to score while straddling a broomstick. As mentioned earlier, each match is played with a “four maximum” rule, meaning no more than four persons of any one gender are allowed to compete at any one time. However, when the “Seekers” take the pitch, that number can increase to five.

While the organization is keeping alive much of the tradition of the sport as described in Rowling’s text — the snitch, the seekers, the bludgers, etc. — it’s unclear if it will still enjoy the same draw without an instantly recognizable link to the Potter franchise.

That doesn’t seem to concern organizers, who now see a different opportunity the name change presents.

“In less than 20 years, our sport has grown from a few dozen college students in rural Vermont to a global phenomenon with thousands of players, semi-pro leagues, and international championships,” said USQ Executive Director Mary Kimball. “Our organizations are committed to continuing to push Quadball forward.”

Echoing Kimball, MLQ Co-Commissioner Amanda Dallas pointed where that direction might be. “Bringing full creative control of the name of our sport to the vibrant community of players and fans that has grown and sustained it will allow our organizations to take the next step,” she said. “We are now able to pursue the kinds of opportunities that our community has dreamed about for years.”

​It is worth noting that several stars from the Harry Potter franchise have made public statements disagreeing with Rowling’s comments. However, some have gone further. The franchise’s biggest stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who played Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, respectively, have strongly condemned Rowling’s comments.

Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

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