An entire generation grew up reading Harry Potter. The worldwide phenomenon influenced kids across cultures, telling its tale of good vs. evil over seven books (and eight movies) – and its reach is still growing. A new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, overseen by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling opened in London last summer, and this Friday marks the launch of a new spinoff/prequel series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
It’s no wonder why so many fans were taken with the story of The Boy Who Lived; nor is it any wonder why readers will be coming to these stories for generations. The magical world created by Rowling is filled with wondrous creatures and scenarios that spark the imagination and inspire not just kids but people of all ages. Whether by sorting ourselves into Hogwart’s houses or searching for meaning and nuance in the text and movies, Harry Potter has become a part of the day to day thought process of people around the globe. Now, even sports fans can get in on the action.
A new quidditch league has been launched in the U.K., according to a recent report by The Guardian. The U.K. Quidditch Premiere League currently consists of eight teams, divided by regions, and will compete in a new summer sport that runs from May to August. The new league is far from all in the world of quidditch, however. Over 20,000 quidditch players currently play in 25 countries around the world, and yes, there’s even a Quidditch World Cup. With the launch of the new league, however, quidditch players are hoping for a new level of legitimacy and visibility. According to league director Jack Lennard:
“The Quidditch Premier League is such an exciting opportunity and development. It’s an opportunity for the sport to grow and gain prestige. It’s an opportunity for players to compete at the highest level. And, most importantly, it’s an opportunity for more people in more places to find out about this incredible sport.”
The game, which was developed for the real world by two students in Vermont back in 2005, is largely similar from how it’s portrayed in the books and movies. Well, except for all the flying and the magic. Players run around the field with a broomstick between their legs trying to score with a quaffle (a semi-deflated volleyball), defend with a bludger (dodge balls), and catch the golden snitch (a tennis ball in a sock attached to the shorts of a snitch runner). Teams of seven compete in what many believe to be one of the most exciting new sports played today.
As unlikely as it might seem, it was honestly only a matter of time before this happened. Think of it as a sort of interactive, competitive LARPing, with potential for genuine athletic acclaim. With the rise of the new league in the U.K., the sport is sure to grow in prominence, with many predicting new leagues at both the professional and collegiate level. Perhaps best of all is the push towards gender inclusivity. According to the rules of the new league, no team may have more than four members of either gender on the field at any one time, making it possible for both sexes to get in on the action.
While it doesn’t seem likely that quidditch will ever reach the level of success seen by soccer or football, the growth possibilities for the sport seem pretty endless as of now. What started as a lark between two students has grown into an international sport, fueled both by the quest for athletic greatness and the fandom for Harry Potter. Who knows? In another decade perhaps sportsfans will be having tailgate parties and backyard barbeques in honor of Saturday Night Quidditch. Wouldn’t that be magical?