by SPARK


quidditch

Many real-life events inspire works of fiction, but now and then, fiction inspires real life. Quidditch, the flying broomstick sport made popular in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books, is now played outside of those pages (with a few adaptations for non-wizards). Of course, players are limited by the constraints of gravity and must avoid the signature bludger instruments made famous in the bloody matches in the book; the basics of Quidditch are happening globally though, on the ground and in safe ways.

The Guardian reports that in the past decade, Muggle Quidditch (or Quidditch for people who are not actually wizards) has ignited fans worldwide. The game is played on six continents, in 20 countries, and at more than 1,200 schools. There are also college-level and adult leagues for the sport. The appeal of the game is multi-faceted and is not dependent on having knowledge of the book series that made it famous. Kids and adults at all fitness levels can participate together in Quidditch in some way, thanks to its variation of player roles.

The Basics of Muggle Quidditch

There are seven players on each team, just like the book version. Those players are divided up like this:

  • Three chasers on each team – players who carry or pass the ball on the way to the goal.
  • Two beaters on each team – players who throw dodge balls at opposing players to disqualify them from the field for a specified time period.
  • One keeper on each team – a goalie, basically.
  • One snitch runner, not assigned to a team – a player who tucks the snitch (in this version, a tennis ball in a sock) in his or her shorts, and who is not required to ride a broomstick.
  • One seeker on each team – a player that hunts the snitch runner and tries to steal the snitch.

Throughout the game, points are earned on both teams when goal hoops are made (10 points per goal). The game ends when a seeker catches the snitch runner, and successfully steals the snitch. The team of the victorious seeker earns 30 points. The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the game.

The game is complex and calls on a lot of different skill sets, making it ideal for large group fitness sessions. Speed and strength must combine with strategy for a win, making it a more inclusive game than some traditional physical education class options.

Quidditch is Adaptable

Students are so excited by Muggle Quidditch that it’s popping up in physical education curriculum all over the country. The Harry Potter series inspires the game, of course, but students and teachers can adapt the way it’s played based on creativity, and the equipment and resources available to them.

Muggle – or Earthbound – Quidditch is scalable based on the age of the participants, too. Younger kids can play it without broomsticks, for example, while middle and high schoolers can add that level of difficulty. Even kids who have decided they are “too old” for Harry Potter can get excited about the physicality of Quidditch. It’s a fun and challenging approach to physical education – giving Quidditch wide appeal.

More Than Just a Game

Since posting the rules for her “Earthbound Quidditch” game on a health and physical education site in 2001, Ohio P.E. teacher Jodi Palmer says the page has seen nearly 60,000 views. In an interview with AthleticBusiness.com, Palmer says that some teachers are intimidated at first by the rules and complexity of Quidditch on paper, but that once kids actually get up and moving, it all comes together.

The unusual nature of the sport makes it interesting to kids from many different backgrounds, often bringing together players who don’t have much in common off the field. Being part of a team in a game that’s unabashedly out of the ordinary can instill confidence in children, and help them to feel more comfortable in their own skin. The basis in Harry Potter attracts many book-lovers, including kids who may not otherwise take part in athletics. On the flip side, the physical challenge of the sport is appealing to active children and can become a gateway for kids previously uninterested in reading to get excited about the book series. As Harrison Homel, executive director of the International Quidditch Association, explained, “It turns readers into athletes, and athletes into readers.” The magic of Quidditch in real life is the way that it brings players together to share in a fun and unique experience; it’s not held to any preconceptions our society may hold about more traditional sports.

Ready to give the down-to-earth version of Quidditch a shot in your P.E. class? Visit the International Quidditch Association website to download rules, safety guidelines, and tips for getting kids excited about participating.

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