Quidditch, a game created by J.K. Rowling in her fictional “Harry Potter” books, is gaining popularity among high school and college students in the Muggle, or non-magical, world.
Valerie Fischman, a student at the University of Maryland, is petitioning the NCAA to recognize Quidditch as an official sport. The process, however, could take years because athletic directors from at least 50 colleges must also petition the NCAA for recognition.
At TCU, sophomore psychology major Lindsey Carnes has been working with the student activities coordinators this semester to raise awareness of the club’s existence on campus. Carnes said she supports Fischman’s efforts and considers Quidditch a legitimate sport.
“It gets really physical out there… I mean, you have to be able to run, you have to be able to push…and defend yourself,” she said.
Quidditch matches are a combination of soccer, dodgeball and tag. Players are not flying down the Quidditch pitch, but spectators may identify some athletic ability required of players in the game.
In 2005, students started playing “Muggle Quidditch” or “Ground Quidditch” as an intramural sport at Middlebury College in Vermont. According to the International Quidditch Association, there are now more than 400 college-level and 300 high school-level Quidditch teams and more Quidditch clubs that are not recognized by their schools.
Middlebury College, home of the original Muggle Quidditch team, won the fourth annual Quidditch World Cup hosted by the International Quidditch Association in New York City on Nov. 14.
Carnes said TCU students have been showing a lot of interest in the sport and that the tournaments have been successful so far this semester. With continued support and participation, the club could recognized as an official student organization next semester.
She said Quidditch is the kind of sport that could be appealing to many different kinds of people.
“We have the group that is [playing Quidditch] just because they are avid “Harry Potter’ fans, and they want to play to become part of the world,” she said. “And then we have the people that are just really athletic, and they like to play sports.”
Brad Thompson is one of the university’s student activities coordinators who has been helping Carnes organize tournaments and raise awareness for the sport.
“[Quidditch] is a niche program…so it is great that we are meeting the need for students that really like it and are interested in it,” he said.
Thompson said the matches are very competitive but always look a little funny as well.
“It is awkward; it is funny to watch, but people are really into it, and people are really excited about it,” he said. “It definitely takes some skill to play it, and you have to have some kind of athletic ability.”
Although he said he thought the sport did require athletic ability, Thompson said he did not think the sport had a chance at recognition from the NCAA.
“I could definitely see some kind of intramural type of event,” he said. “I think it will be interesting to see if “Harry Potter’ will stand the test of time after the movies and the books are done and as this generation grows up.”
Michael Drozd, a sophomore member of the club, agreed.
“It’s kind of a kid thing, like playing hide and seek,” Drozd, a business major, said. “I think it would be fun, but I’m not really sure if it can really be considered a sport.”
Drozd said, however, that he saw benefits to promoting a sport based in literature that would likely attract different kinds of students to athletics and exercise. He said if Quidditch was an NCAA sport, he would definitely watch.
“It’s fun, and it is still entertaining,” he said.