Quidditch

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In the world of the Harry Potter novels and movies, Quidditch /ˈkwɪdɪ/ is a magical competitive sport involving flying contestants. Matches are played between two teams of seven players riding flying broomsticks, using four balls: a Quaffle, two Bludgers, and a Golden Snitch. Six ring-shaped goals are situated atop poles of different heights, three on each side of the pitch. It is an extremely rough but very popular semi-contact sport, played by wizards and witches. In the Wizarding World, Quidditch has a fervent fan following.

Harry Potter plays an important position for his house team at Hogwarts: he is the Seeker and becomes the team captain in his sixth year at school. Regional and international Quidditch competitions are mentioned throughout the series. In Goblet of Fire, Quidditch at Hogwarts is cancelled for the Triwizard Tournament, but Harry and the Weasleys attend the Quidditch World Cup. In addition, Harry uses his Quidditch skills to capture a golden egg from a kind of dragon called the Hungarian Horntail (in the first task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament), to capture a flying key in Philosopher's Stone, and on two vital occasions in Deathly Hallows — getting hold of Ravenclaw's Diadem and during the final fight with Voldemort — Harry's Quidditch skills prove extremely useful. Harry has owned two broomsticks, the Nimbus 2000 and the Firebolt, both of which are lost by the series' end. His Nimbus 2000 is destroyed by the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and his Firebolt is lost in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when he leaves Privet Drive for the last time. Aspects of the sport's history are revealed in Quidditch Through the Ages, a book published by J.K. Rowling in 2001 to benefit Comic Relief.

Rowling came up with the sport in a Manchester hotel room after a row with her then-boyfriend. She explained: "I had been pondering the things that hold a society together, cause it to congregate and signify its particular character and knew I needed a sport."[1]

A modified version of the game (without magic) has been created and is played in the real world in a number of countries. In this game the players have brooms but run instead of flying. Nevertheless the basic rules are the same.

Players and equipment[edit]

Pitches[edit]

Quidditch matches are played on (or rather over) an oval-shaped, 500 feet (150 m) long and 180 feet (55 m) wide pitch, with a small central (core) circle approximately 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter. At each end stand three hooped goal posts, each at a different height: one at 30 ft (9.1 m), one at 40 ft (12 m), and one at 50 ft (15 m), comprising the scoring area. There is also a line that shows mid-field, which is 250 ft (76 m) from either goal. Quidditch fields have white shaded areas around the goalposts, to mark the scoring area and the bounds in which keepers must stay. Since Quidditch is an aerial sport, Quidditch pitches are shown to feature spectator seating at high vantage points, either in towers (such as at Hogwarts) or in a fully encircling stadium-style platform, with the "top box" considered the most prestigious place for a spectator to be seated. The British stadium that is shown for the 1994 Quidditch World Cup in the film version of Goblet of Fire is of this latter style, which appears similar to modern football or athletics stadium, albeit that the seating continues to curve upwards beyond the vertical, almost enclosing the pitch. Both the Hogwarts and World Cup pitches have been shown turfed with grass. The surface is used primarily for launching off at the beginning of the game, and on occasion for falling onto when players are dismounted from their brooms. Seekers, who sometimes fly close to the pitch surface, can be tricked into crashing into the surface occasionally at great speed (was done in the world cup) (when tricked into doing so by the opposing seeker; it is known as the Wronski feint).

Balls Used in Quidditch[edit]

Oliver Wood showing Harry the Quaffle, Bludgers, and Snitch for the first time in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The Golden Snitch is held behind the Hogwarts coat of arms in the centre of the lid.

Quaffle[edit]

The Quaffle is spherical in shape (although it is shown with four large dimples in the films, appearing more as a tetrahedron), scarlet in colour, and approximately 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter, and about the weight of a football but hollow. It is explained in Quidditch Through the Ages that the Quaffle is enchanted to fall very slowly through the air when dropped to prevent players from having to continuously dive to retrieve it. The backstory of Quidditch explains that the red colour was instituted to create a stronger contrast between the Quaffle and mud. The Quaffle is also enchanted to make it easy to grip with only one hand. Only one Quaffle is used in a game, and if a Chaser throws it through a hoop they score 10 points for their team. The Gryffindor team Chasers are Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell.

Bludgers[edit]

The two Bludgers are round, jet black balls made of iron. A Bludger is 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. They are described as being bewitched to fly without any visible means of propulsion, although they do retain inertia, which makes them unable to change speed or direction swiftly. They act as airborne obstacles, flying around the pitch and trying indiscriminately to knock players off their brooms. The Beaters carry short wooden clubs, which they use to knock the Bludgers away from their teammates and/or toward the opposing team. The Bludgers do most of the damage in the game of Quidditch; they will occasionally injure players and break brooms. A correctly bewitched Bludger with no jinxes will not side with a team; they will instead alternate players after they try and knock a player from one team off their broom. In The Chamber of Secrets, Dobby bewitched a Bludger to attack Harry, and it ended up breaking his arm. The Gryffindor team Beaters are Fred and George Weasley.

The Golden Snitch[edit]

The Golden Snitch.

The Golden Snitch, often referred to as simply the Snitch, is a small golden ball the approximate size of a walnut (roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter) and was made to replace the Snidget that was released in old games. In the films, the wings on the Snitch are gold, although in the books it is described as having silver wings. The winged Snitch is enchanted to hover, dart, and fly around the pitch, avoiding capture while remaining within the boundaries of the playing area. Each team has a designated Seeker (most seekers are the lightest, fastest, and smallest players on their team), whose only task is to capture the Snitch. The seeker who catches the Snitch scores 150 points, and only the capture of the Snitch will end the game. It is mentioned in the books that on rare occasions, Quidditch games have been known to last for months, so it is of key importance to catch the Golden Snitch as quickly as possible. It is also explained in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that the Snitch has a "flesh memory", able to recall the first person who has touched it, and will respond only to the first person who caught it. This helps when there is a dispute about who caught the Snitch first. No other player aside from the Seeker is allowed to touch the Snitch (doing so constitutes a foul), and referees and Snitch makers wear gloves when handling them. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore leaves to Harry in his will the first Snitch Harry had caught, inside which he had hidden the Resurrection Stone.

Players/Positions[edit]

Each team is made up of seven players, consisting of three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper and one Seeker. Quidditch is not sex-segregated, and many professional teams include female and male players.

The job of the Chasers is to keep possession of the Quaffle, and try to score goals (worth 10 points) by throwing it through one of the opponents' three hoops. They can pass it among themselves, but only one player is allowed in the scoring area at any time.

The two Beaters have to protect the rest of the team from the Bludgers by hitting them at the other team with a wooden bat (like a baseball bat), which they hold in one hand. They are usually the biggest and strongest of the team. They are not allowed to hit the Bludgers at the crowd, the referee, or the Keeper (unless the Quaffle is inside the scoring area).

The Keeper has to protect the team's goal hoops by flying in front of them and stopping the opponents from throwing the Quaffle through them.

The job of the Seeker is to catch the Golden Snitch before the opposing team's Seeker can do so, thus ending the game and scoring 150 points. This almost always means that the successful Seeker's team wins, although a notable exception is when Bulgaria Seeker Viktor Krum caught the Snitch for Bulgaria during the World Cup Final in Goblet of Fire, while his team were still 160 points behind Ireland (their opponents), thus making his own team lose.

Broomsticks[edit]

Magical flying broomsticks are one of the forms of transportation for wizards and witches, as well as for playing Quidditch. Hogwarts Quidditch players are allowed to use whatever broomsticks they like or their sponsors can afford, despite the fact that more expensive brooms often confer great (and arguably unfair) advantages in speed and maneuverability.

The Nimbus model line has a reputation as one of the best in the Wizarding world. Harry receives a Nimbus 2000 during his first year so that he can play for Gryffindor; Lucius Malfoy buys a full set of the more advanced Nimbus 2001s for the Slytherin team as a bribe so they would choose his son Draco as Seeker the following year.

A Firebolt is an advanced professional-level flying broomstick and the most expensive and fastest racing broom in existence. It is said that they are the best in the world. They can even fly out of the atmosphere if the weather conditions are fair. Harry received a Firebolt model from his godfather, Sirius Black, after his Nimbus 2000 was destroyed during a Quidditch match in his third year after flying it into the Whomping Willow when the Quidditch field was attacked by dementors and Harry fainted. Harry uses his Firebolt to escape the Hungarian Horntail in his fourth year during the Triwizard Cup.

Comets and Cleansweeps are cheaper than the Nimbuses and are more common; however, Cleansweeps are considered still decent brooms. A Shooting Star is another brand of broom, but it is considered to be slow and out of style (in Chamber of Secrets, Ron's old Shooting Star is said to be often outstripped by passing butterflies). Another broomstick series called The Bluebottle was introduced in the advertisements at the Quidditch World Cup, it was described as a family broom, with safety devices such as an anti-theft alarm. There is also another brand called Silver Arrows, as mentioned in Quidditch Through the Ages, along with the Oakshaft 79, Moontrimmer, Cleansweep One, Comet 140, Tinderblast, Swiftstick, Nimbus 1000, Nimbus 2001,and the Twigger 90. The Oakshaft is the broom famed for its journey across the Atlantic Ocean and the Moontrimmer was popular because it was still controllable at extremely high altitudes. During a Quidditch training session in the third book, Madam Hooch mentioned that she learned to fly on a Silver Arrow and that it was a fine broom.

Game progression[edit]

The game starts with the referee releasing all four balls from the central circle. The Bludgers and the Snitch, having been bewitched, fly off of their own accord, the Snitch to hide itself quickly and the Bludgers to attack the nearest players. The Quaffle is thrown into the air by the referee to signal the start of play.

Chasers score by sending the red, football-sized Quaffle through any of the three goal hoops. Each goal scored is worth ten points. After a goal is scored, the Keeper of the team scored upon throws the Quaffle back into play. Capturing the Snitch earns the Seeker's team 150 points, equivalent to 15 goals scored by Chasers. Since the game ends immediately after the Snitch is caught, the team capturing the Snitch is very likely to win the game. Teams may be ranked according to points scored or games won. For example, at Hogwarts, the team with the most points at the end of the year may win the Quidditch Cup. There are only two occasions in the books when the team that catches the Snitch loses: once during the Quidditch World Cup final, when Viktor Krum of Bulgaria catches the Snitch, and once when Ginny Weasley replaces Harry as Seeker after he has been banned from playing by Dolores Umbridge. If teams are ranked according to points scored, however, a team that knows it cannot hope to catch up to the winning team might favour quickly catching the Snitch (also ending the game) so as to end the game before any more points are scored and hence reduce the lead in point difference obtained by the winning team, so that it is easier to win them back in subsequent matches. It is suggested that Viktor Krum catches the Snitch during the World Cup to "end [the match] on his own terms" as their opponents Ireland were easily winning.[HP4]

All seven players must constantly avoid both being hit by the Bludgers (which attempt to attack them) and accidental contact with the Golden Snitch (which is a foul if anyone but a Seeker touches it).

As the game can be difficult to follow by the crowd, due to the high speed and maneuvering of the players, games will usually be commentated. Lee Jordan served as Quidditch commentator at Hogwarts for several years.

The length of a Quidditch game is variable, as play can only end with the capture of the Golden Snitch by one of the Seekers or by mutual consent of the two team captains. The game length is therefore determined largely by the Seekers' abilities. The shortest game ever is described as lasting three and a half seconds, with the score obviously being 150–0 (Seeker Roderick Plumpton catches the Snitch at the mentioned time[HPQ]). Some games can go on for days, and even months, if the Snitch is not caught. The longest game recorded supposedly lasted three months, according to Team Captain Oliver Wood.[HP1]

Quidditch in the Harry Potter Series[edit]

Hogwarts Quidditch Cup[edit]

Year Champions Book Explanation
1 Ravenclaw Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Harry leads team in his first year to wins in their first two matches; they badly lose their final match and the championship when he is unable to play as he is in the hospital wing.
2 Abandoned Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Deemed unsafe due to the mysterious attacks on students.
3 Gryffindor Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Gryffindor wins the cup against bitter rivals Slytherin after dropping first match. Harry was able to capture the Snitch when they had 50 plus points.
4 Cancelled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Cancelled due to Triwizard Tournament; playing pitch was used for third task.
5 Gryffindor Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Ron's first appearance on team; after winning first match against Slytherin despite his poor performance Harry, Fred and George are not allowed to play after badly reacting to taunts from Slytherins. Re-constituted team goes on to win season.
6 Gryffindor Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Harry's first (and only) season as team captain; goes off suspended during final match but team wins title for third time.
7 Not Played Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Field destroyed.

Hogwarts teams[edit]

A major motif of five of the Harry Potter books is the competition among the four Hogwarts houses for the Quidditch Cup each school year. The games are nearly always refereed by flying teacher Madam Hooch, although Snape refereed once in Harry's first year.

Quidditch World Cup 1994[edit]

The Bulgarian National Quidditch team and Irish National Quidditch team appear in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which Ireland defeats Bulgaria in the Quidditch World Cup by 10 points. The final score was 170-160. The Bulgarian team consists of Chasers Dimitrov, Ivanova, and Levski, Keeper Zograf, Beaters Volkov and Vulchanov, and superstar Seeker Viktor Krum. The Irish team consists of Chasers Troy, Mullet, and Moran, Keeper Barry Ryan, Beaters Quigley and Connolly, and Seeker Aidan Lynch. According to Rowling's website, several players were named after friends of hers as an inside joke.

Despite this, Ireland does not feature in the Quidditch World Cup video game.

Quidditch World Cup 2014[edit]

In 2014, Rowling started publishing a series of match reports from the Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore, culminating in a short story about the final featuring the return of Harry, Ron, Hermione and their friends as adults. This generated interest from several media outlets, as it was the first new writing about the Harry Potter characters since the end of the series in 2007.[2][3][4] Set twenty years after the previously depicted 1994 World Cup, it was revealed that Bulgaria finally won the tournament.

Quidditch in the films and video games[edit]

There are some minor differences between how Quidditch is represented in Rowling's books and how it appears to be played in the films and video games. For example, the rule that players must not stray outside the pitch boundary is not evident, as players can be seen flying around the spectator towers at the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch.

In Half-Blood Prince (2009), Quidditch players are seen to use a flying wedge formation to advance the quaffles toward the goal.[5]

In the 2003 video game Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, the rule of only having a single Chaser in the scoring area is not enforced. Additionally, the game allows players to make special moves whereby several goals are scored in succession as multiple Chasers pass the Quaffle back and forwards through the hoops, whereas the rules dictate that after a goal is scored, possession passes to the Keeper.

In the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Islands of Adventure theme park, Quidditch is featured near the end where riders are flown through the Quidditch pitch. A storefront near Ollivanders Wand Shop is themed as a Quidditch supply with a Golden Snitch on the sign and a case containing animated Quaffle and Bludgers surrounded by Beaters' bats.[6]

Non-fictional Quidditch[edit]

Quidditch Lane in Lower Cambourne

There have been small-scale attempts to adapt Quidditch to readily available technology, using bicycles, and unicycles.[7]

Dedication plaque outside the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

In the real world, the word "Quidditch" occurs in some English placenames (long before the Harry Potter stories were written), and seems to come from Anglo-Saxon cwǣð-dīc = "mud-ditch".

A street in Lower Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, England is named Quidditch Lane, supposedly after a type of nearby dry ditch called a Quidditch. Fans have been known to visit the area.[8]

In November 2014, a plaque appeared outside the entrance of Bristol Children's Hospital attesting that the famous hooped sculptures which stand in front of the paediatric institution are, in fact, not a 50 ft-tall interactive instillation inaugurated in 2001, but instead the goalposts used in the 1998 Quidditch World Cup.[9]

Quidditch as a real-life sport[edit]

In 2007 the United States Quidditch Association, then named the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association, was founded to regulate quidditch in the United States and abroad, a very popular sport amongst college students. According to the International Quidditch Association, the current international governing body of the sport, the original rules and regulation of the popular collegiate sport known as quidditch were formed "....on a sunny Sunday afternoon in 2005 by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe, students at Middlebury College in Vermont, US." (IQA). In contrast to the fictional sport, the game is played on foot while using one hand to hold a broom between the legs.

Since 2005 many American schools, such as Harvard University, have added Quidditch to their list of team sports.[10] The sport has since then spread across more than 25 countries and includes multiple international tournaments, including a World Cup.[11][12] In 2012, the International Quidditch Association held the IQA World Cup, then named the IQA Summer Games, as the torch was passing through Oxford, UK for the Summer Olympics.[13]

Gameplay is reminiscent to the gameplay in the books, films, and game adaptations, though the sport has obviously been adapted to suit real-world constraints. Currently on the 9th edition of the rulebooks, quidditch is still evolving to suit safe play for the members of the teams, male, female, and those identifying outside of the binary. Apart from joining teams registered with their national governing body, individuals are also able to become an official certified referee to officiate tournaments and games throughout the year as teams compete to take part in various national and international tournaments. As the oldest national governing body, USQ has hosted a total of nine US Quidditch Cups as of the Spring of 2016.

Quidditch video games[edit]

There have been video games that simulate playing Quidditch, including:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Furness, Hannah. "JK Rowling invented Quidditch after a row with her boyfriend". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  2. ^ Tobar, Hector. "J.K. Rowling covers the '2014 Quidditch World Cup'". LA Times. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Flood, Alison. "Harry Potter makes first appearance for seven years as he turns 34". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Gibson, Megan. "J.K. Rowling Just Published a New Harry Potter Story". Time. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  5. ^ Eric Scull (7 September 2008). "A test screening experience and review by Eric Scull". MuggleNet. Retrieved 16 November 2008. 
  6. ^ "Harry Potter's magic conjures success for theme park". CNN International. 6 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Unicycle Quidditch Rules". Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Village sign attracts Potter fans, BBC News
  9. ^ Sad truth behind Harry Potter fan's adorable prank at Bristol Children's Hospital is revealed, Bristol Post
  10. ^ "From Hogwarts to Harvard". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Carey, Alexis (15 April 2014). "From Harry Potter to Sydney schools, Quidditch has become a real competitive sport". Daily Telegraph (Sydney). Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Flood, Alison (22 June 2016). "Quidditch leaves Harry Potter behind as (real) World Cup fever grows". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ Black, Alan (6 July 2012). "London 2012: Olympic Quidditch Explo Tournament Preview". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 18 February 2016. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]