On the ides of November while many U of T students were preparing for an onslaught of midterms, two determined teams representing UTSG and UTSC respectively travelled to Mississauga to compete in the Eastern Regional Championships of what magical folk commonly believe is the best sport in the world: Quidditch.The sport was first described by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series as a favourite pastime of young witches and wizards. However, Co-Captain Garnet Lollar of the UTSG-based Centaurs team is quick to affirm that the sport can extend equally to Muggles and even those who may not be familiar with the series. “Being a Harry Potter fan isn’t a pre-requisite at all; in fact many people are more intrigued by the sport due to its physicality alone and not [its] lore,” he explained.The Muggle version of the sport has gained enough traction in universities and other private clubs to warrant both an international association and a national governing body in Canada. Quidditch Canada, which was founded in 2014, organized the Eastern regionals on November 12, with 14 teams competing.The U of T teams were placed in the bottom pool of the tournament, along with Ryerson University’s team. The Centaurs made it through the starting pool to the semi-finals before being defeated by the Carleton University team.Lollar, who plays keeper for the Centaurs, attributes the sport’s popularity to its exciting nature and inherent inclusivity. “Much like [how] Ultimate [frisbee] is growing as an underground sport, Quidditch is a highly competitive, athletic, and fun sport that often gets written off due to misconceptions,” he says.Lollar describes the game as a “contact sport involving one-armed tackles, pushing, charging, and other common forms of (relatively) safe physical engagement.” It is also a gender inclusive sport, and the rules require that no more than four members of a particular gender — defined as male, female, or other — may play for the team at one time.The national Quidditch championships will be held in Victoria, British Columbia in April 2017.
Quidditch gameplay in the magical and Muggle worldsObjectiveTeams compete to collect the most points. The sport’s nuance and intricacy lie in how it is scored and the specialized player positions.Set-upThe Quidditch field is called the ‘pitch’. In the traditional, magical version of the game, three tall vertical hoops are installed at either end of a large field. The defining characteristic of magical Quidditch is that all the players participate on flying broomsticks, making the sport fast-paced and dangerous should a player fall from the height. Muggle Quidditch makes concessions for the fact that non-magic folk have not succeeded in bewitching common household objects for the purpose of flight. The hoops are installed closer to ground level, and players must ‘ride’ a three-foot broom in order to remain in play.
|Chasers||Three players on each team aim to score points by throwing a
‘Quaffle’ through one of the opposing team’s hoops. Each goal
is worth 10 points for the scoring team.
|Chasers have the same objective as their magical counterparts.
A deflated volleyball serves as the Quaffle.
|Keeper||The Keeper’s job is to defend their team’s hoops, like a goalie.
They do not score points but remain the primary defensive player
on the team.
|Muggle Keepers are also scoring players who handle the Quaffle.
They have some advantages in their home team’s defensive zone.
|Beaters||There are two Beaters on each team, tasked with incapacitating the
other team’s players to the greatest possible extent. They carry bats
to aim enchanted flying ‘Bludgers’,towards the opposing team.
|Muggle Beaters have a slightly less brutal job than their
magical counterparts; they aim dodgeballs at the opposing
team in order to “knock them off” their brooms. When a player
is hit, they must surrender the Quaffle.
|Seeker||With only one ultimate purpose, Seekers can have the greatest impact
on the outcome of the game. They must search for the tiny flying golden
‘Snitch’ that is enchanted to evade capture. The game does not end until
the Snitch is caught by one of the team’s Seekers — catching the Snitch
is worth 150 points.
|Muggle Seekers must also compete to catch the Snitch,
which is a flag attached to a third-party player dressed in
yellow. The non-magical Snitch is released 18 minutes into
gameplay. The Seeker who catches the it wins 30 points for
their team and ends the game.