Harry Potter's Quidditch Goes National With NYC 'World Cup' This Weekend

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Valeria Fischman, a player at the University of Maryland, is pushing for the NCAA to recognize Quidditch as a varsity sport. She says the game has the potential to decrease illiteracy and childhood obesity "as long as the kids are careful with their brooms."

"If a child has a baseball player as their idol, they'll go out and join a local team," Fischman said. "It's the same thing with Harry Potter. Children aren't only engaged in the book more, they also want to go out and play in the magic first hand."

One thing confounding the NCAA application is that the NCAA has separate criteria for men's and women's sports, but Quidditch teams are coed.

The Quidditch enthusiast also has to collect 50 signatures from college athletic directors supporting the game. After that, the NCAA considers sponsorship and official recognition.

Harry Potter's Quidditch Game Comes Alive

University of Florida quidditch captain Nicholas Morado says this type of validation will "remove the autonomy of IQA."

"The last thing we need in our sport is the hand of the NCAA," Morado said.

Quidditch organizations vary from campus to campus, with some meeting once every month and others practicing weekly. Ivy Leaguers and Big 12 schools in the south are just a few that take part in competition.

At the University of Texas at Austin, members are divided into four groups based on house names from Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Three of the teams are recreational while the fourth team, Gryffindor, competes against other universities in their conference.

Sophomore business major Jacob Adlis, who serves at the club's director of internal affairs, says the sport requires athleticism and willingness to "get roughed up."

"The ideal snitch is someone who's run cross country and done wrestling," Adlis said.

Powerhouse Maryland is aware of fierce competition. After losing to Vasser College in a tournament last month, philosophy major and quidditch captain Logan Anbinder has been holding practices three times a week to work on passing drills and catching.

Anbinder's main focus during the game is trying to catch the snitch.

"I look a lot like Harry Potter, so it's only natural I'm a seeker," he said. In the book series, Potter is a seeker.

This year's Big Apple debut is also open to high school teams, including Nanuet Senior High School from New York and Traverse City West, Mich. Teams must pay an entry fee to compete, while fans are encouraged to dress up and take part in live performances. The IQA is also selling t-shirts in hopes of raising $20,000 for the tournament.

"There were owls and wizards last year," IQA commissioner Benepe said.

And even though Middlebury's Kate Olen may not play quidditch past graduation, she says the magic of the game will always bring people together.

"My friends want to pick up a broom at our 20th reunion," Olen said.

ABCNews.com contributor Ashley Jennings is a member of the ABC News on Campus program in Austin, Texas.

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