There are people who play Quidditch in real life. Thousands of them, if a report on the BBC website is to be believed.
Quidditch is the sport played by witches and wizards in the Harry Potter books and movies; if you’re familiar with the franchise you’ll understand why Quidditch in real life is such a weird idea. See, they play the game on flying broomsticks.
Since personal flight is outside of the abilities of most real world players of Quidditch, the game has been modified for Muggles. You just run around on a broomstick.
I guess it was bound to happen. The little kids who had Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone read to them in 1997 are now in college; they’ve grown up on this stuff. And it’s on a college campus where the BBC found a Quidditch team, who plays every day on a lawn not far from the White House.
What makes this all especially weird, though, is how serious the players take it. There’s an International Quidditch Association (their website) and there seem to be dozens upon dozens of teams at colleges and high schools. And they have a rule book, one which clocks in at 49 pages of dos, don’ts and tips.
The real life game is quite similar to the fictional one. There are chasers and beaters and a keeper, all of whom play the more mundane parts of Quidditch - getting a ball through a hoop (hula hoops on sticks in the case of real life Quidditch). But then there are the more fantastical elements - the snitch, a tiny golden magic ball that is the secret to winning the game, and the seeker, whose job is to just find and catch the snitch. In real life Quidditch one player is decked out in yellow clothes and runs around the field with a ball in a yellow sock tied around his neck - he’s the snitch.
Some of the players seem to take the whole thing tongue in cheek - they are running around on broomsticks and wearing capes, after all - while others take it kind of seriously. There are those who want it to be a recognized college sport. This year was the fourth Quidditch World Cup, held in New York. And there’s talk of a Quidditch exhibition game at the 2012 Olympics.
Now how long is it before Warner Bros sues these people?