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The Benefits of Students Acting UpAmy Baldwin, Ed.D.
Quidditch — a once fictional sport — first appeared in J.K. Rowling’s debut novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Originally played by witches and wizards, Quidditch is a mixed-gender contact sport that blends elements from rugby, dodgeball and tag.
Due to COVID-19, the current season and US Quidditch Cup 13 are temporarily suspended. The event is currently slated to resume in 2022–2023 and will be held in Richmond, Virginia.
Discover the rules and history of Quidditch on college campuses, the top college Quidditch teams in the world, and more!
The non-magical College Quidditch was founded in 2005 at Middlebury College by two students, Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe. Both students were looking for a physically intense sport to play with their friends on the weekend.
To date, there are currently 210 active US teams, five of which are considered “official.”
While over half of these teams are at the college level, the sport is enjoyed and played by millennials and generation z alike.
Some participate because of their love for the Harry Potter movie and book franchise. Other college students mention the sport’s physical nature and friendship-building as their main reasons for playing.
A Quidditch team is made up of seven athletes who play with brooms between their legs at all times — and run instead of fly.
Matches are played on a large oval field with three ring-shaped goals of varying heights on each side, between two opposing teams of seven players each.
The positions are also the same as in the book and include:
Every year, the USQ (the governing body of US Quidditch) ranks all teams using complex calculations and algorithms. Here are the top college teams from the 2019-2020 season:
The University of Maryland’s team is currently ranked #1. They’re considered one of the best college teams and have won four consecutive regional championships.
The New York University team is currently ranked #2. The team advanced for the first time to the semifinals in 2019.
The University of Michigan team is currently ranked #3. They’re the highest-ranked college team from the Great Lakes region.
The Harvard University team is currently ranked #4. They welcome any Harvard student at any level to join their team.
Another element that US Quidditch shares with the fictional version from the Harry Potter universe is that teams aren’t separated by gender. Each team is allowed up to four players who identify as the same gender, regardless of sex assigned at birth.
USQ has an advocacy branch called Title 9 ¾, created to ensure gender equality, diversity and inclusivity within the sport. Title 9 ¾ gets its name from both the fictional train platform where young witches and wizards could board the Hogwarts Express to get to their Wizarding school, and from the US law Title IX, which ensures the prevention of gender discrimination in sports.
Many college student activists see the gender rule as progressive, as it favors work ethic, dedication and performance over gender stereotypes.
The first Quidditch Cup was held at Middlebury College in 2007 — Middlebury also happens to be the inaugural national champions. Since then, the event has been held annually across the US in various locations.
This premier event hosts about 80 teams across two divisions — collegiate and community, all competing to be crowned the National Champions in their division.
The ins-and-outs of college Quidditch can be confusing for first-timers coming to the sport. Luckily, there are many options out there to familiarize yourself with the fictional and real-world versions of Quidditch:
If you’re down with commercials, you can always catch one of the films during a cable TV marathon. Note: if you plan on watching the films, Quidditch only appears in the first 6 of the 8-film series.
YouTube has several college Quidditch videos from the official World Cup and individual schools in the league. Most of these videos show students engaged in the game, but also feature one-on-one interviews with students talking about their personal experiences on the field.
Last but not least, you can always read or revisit the Harry Potter books for a more in-depth description of the game and its nuances.
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