Quidditch players riding broomsticks tagged on to the Olympics on Monday, acknowledging the game adapted from the Harry Potter series was for nerds, but arguing that it was a legitimate sport worthy of being in the Olympics.
Five teams of quidditch players from Britain, the US, Canada, France and Australia flew into England for the sport’s first major international tournament and to hold an exhibition match as the Olympic torch passed through Oxford, 95km northwest of London.
The sport of ground quidditch was adapted in 2005 by US students at Middlebury College in Vermont from the flying broomstick game in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels.
Since then, the sport has spread to 25 countries and has about 700 teams, mainly based in the US and largely at colleges and universities.
Alex Benepe, one of the sport’s founders, set up the New York-based non-profit International Quidditch Association in 2007 as players started to take the game more seriously, and quidditch now boasts a rule book and a World Cup.
He said players happily admitted they were nerds, but sporty nerds, and they wanted to prove this was now a legitimate sport — and even aim for the Olympics in the future.
“Most people who play are nerds, but we have a lot of jocks or athletes playing this sport as well, some of whom have never even read the Harry Potter books,” said Benepe, dressed in a three-piece suit and top hat.
“We thought it would be a great time to piggy-back off the Olympics, being held in the home country of Harry Potter, and show people this is an exciting sport. There are a lot more ridiculous sports in the Olympics than quidditch,” he said.
The International Quidditch Association describes itself as a magical, non-profit body “dedicated to promoting the sport of quidditch and inspiring young people to lead physically active and socially engaged lives.”
Players said they were attracted to the sport as it drew in like-minded people who loved reading, but also sport.
“Quidditch has helped athletes who had to be in closet about their nerdiness,” Benepe said.
Allison Gillette, a player on the US team that won the international tournament, said quidditch was as physically demanding as rugby and just as competitive, but it retained a humor and camaraderie that other sports often lacked.
She said players were often teased, but their tormentors changed their minds when they saw it was such a tough game.
“It is very physical, but somehow having to run with a broom between your legs is humbling and this keeps a great sense of community in the sport,” said Gillette, a student from Emerson College in Boston.
Quidditch is best described as a mix of rugby and dodge ball. Each team has seven players and uses three different balls. Every player must have a broom between their legs.
Three players on each team are called chasers, who aim to score goals through a hoop, worth 10 points each. Two players are beaters who use dodge balls, or bludgers, to disrupt the game. A keeper defends the hoop. The seeker’s role is to snatch the snitch, which is worth 30 points.
The snitch is a tennis ball in a yellow sock tucked into the waistband of a snitch runner who is not on either team, does not use a broom and can use any methods to avoid capture.
Benepe, who works in marketing in New York, said the game had changed since 2005. The cape once worn by players was ditched as it could choke people and the rules were now clearly set out.
“It has become far more serious and its growing popularity in the last year or two has really increased the quantity and the quality of players, and improved the game,” he said.
British player Angus Barry, who is studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, said five official teams had emerged in Britain in the past year and there were another 10 or so playing that did not join tournaments.
“The Harry Potter aspect is there, but it is not an essential part of the sport. The sport would not have survived if it were just about Harry Potter. It stands on its own,” Barry said.
Spectators looked on with amazement as the players, some wearing goggles, rode their brooms across the field.
Not all were convinced quidditch would make the Olympics.
“It’s alright, but it’s a bit weird,” said 10-year-old Tom Bound from Oxford, a Harry Potter fan who was hoping — in vain — to see some of the film series’ stars at the match.
“I don’t think it’s for the Olympics. It’s probably better when the broomsticks actually fly,” added his mother, Emma Bound.
As they celebrated Naomi Osaka’s victory in the final of the US Open in New York City’s Flushing Meadows on Saturday, Tokyoites were eager to embrace their heroines’ stand against racial injustice. Osaka, who won her third Grand Slam title with a victory over Victoria Azarenka, has used her platform to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, wearing a mask bearing the name of a different African American before each of her seven matches in the championship. She had donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile. On Saturday, she walked
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
THOROUGH THRASHING: Hualien City beat Taichung Blue Whale 2-1, ending their three-year winning streak with one round of matches left and eight points to spare Hualien City on Saturday clinched this year’s Taiwan Mulan Football League title with one game to spare, by beating Taichung Blue Whale 2-1 at Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City. Hualien City have scored 38 points this season. Blue Whale are second on the scoreboard with 30 points, while Taipei Bravo are third with 23 points. One final round of matches is to be played on Saturday. It is the fourth league trophy for Hualien City, and ends Blue Whale’s three-year winning streak. Hualien had won the title from 2014 to 2016. Both teams defended well, leaving few chances in front
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7