There is a new sport to be found on college campuses this year; Quidditch. Yes, you read that correctly! This is an earth-bound replica of the airbourne game invented by JK Rowling in her Harry Potter books. As in the books, the teams are coed, and have the same number of players as Rowling’s teams (seven), playing the same positions (three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper and one Seeker). The one unique touch is that the Golden Snitch is a ball that hangs in a sock from the shorts an individual who is usually from the cross country team. This individual is selected based on his or her fleetness of foot and agility, and s/he runs around campus and only has to return to the Quidditch pitch once every ten minutes. After a fifteen-second head start, the Seeker can follow the Snitch anywhere s/he goes.
There’s more below the fold, including a video;
To play earth-bound Quidditch, 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 cape-clad players, consisting of three chasers who throw the ball among them as they work down the field. If they get it through one of three circular goals (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, s/he must drop any ball s/he is holding and run around to her/his goal zone before s/he can make any more plays.
Seekers try to catch the most elusive ball, the Golden Snitch (pictured, right). In the Rowling books, the Golden Snitch is a small ball that flies about independently. In real life, it hangs in a sock from the shorts of a player selected for fleetness and agility. As in the books, 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 are the only players who can follow the Snitch. Catching the Snitch is worth 50 points and, as in the Harry Potter books, once the Snitch is caught, the game ends.
There are already seven colleges that have official Quidditch teams; Middlebury College, Vassar, Bucknell University, Tulane, Oberlin, Washington state’s Whitman College and Vermont’s Marlboro College.
Interestingly, some prospective students have chosen which college to attend based on the presence of their Quidditch team, according to Middlebury’s dean of admissions Robert Clagett, who gets positive reactions when he mentions the teams in information sessions on campus and on the road.
Not surprisingly, the game is catching on among parents, as well.
“I sent him off to Vassar, and never once did I realize he would ascend to such greatness,” says Saxon Elliott of Northampton, Massachusetts, mother of freshman Conrad Schott, 18, who headed up the Vassar Quidditch team. In fact, she made the pink capes worn by the New York team.
Predictably, because they’ve grown up with the entire Harry Potter saga, the students love the game.
“Of all the things I’ve done in my four years at Middlebury, this is by far the best,” says Ellie Molyneux, 21, a psychology major from Worthington, Massachusetts, who played for the Bad Ass Muggle Flyers. “I won a Jell-O wrestling contest one year, but this is far better.”