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What is Quidditch?

Quidditch is a sport created by J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter books.
Quidditch players fly on broomsticks.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Images By: Woodleywonderworks, Pshenichka
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2014
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Quidditch is the fantastic sport created by J.K. Rowling in her series of Harry Potter books. Rowling further explored the origins of the sport in a short book specifically devoted to Quidditch, Quidditch through The Ages. The great popularity of the Harry Potter books has led muggles, or non-magic folk, to develop muggle Quidditch.

As defined by Rowling, Quidditch is played on flying broomsticks. Each team has seven members. On each side of the field there are three goal hoops that stand vertically. Part of the goal of Quidditch is to score points by getting the quaffle, a ball similar to a soccer ball, through any of the team’s three goals.

The three chasers on the team are the only ones allowed to shoot the quaffle into the hoops. While they attempt to score goals, worth 10 points each, the opposing team’s keeper attempts to block the goals. In addition to the quaffle, there are two bludgers, enchanted balls that fly around the stadium. The bludgers can be partly controlled by the team’s two beaters, who carry cricket-like bats. When a bludger comes near the team, the beaters hit it away with the bat, hoping to knock it into members of the opposing team.

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The fourth ball in Quidditch is the enchanted golden snitch. It is approximately the size of a golf ball and is very fast. It can also appear or disappear, and generally is not present when the game first begins.

The seeker must catch the golden snitch, and the catch earns the seeker’s team 150 points. Catching the golden snitch usually ends the game, and results in a win for the team that caught the snitch. However, in one famous game in the fourth Harry Potter book at the World Quidditch Cup, the Belgian Seeker catches the snitch, but the Belgian team still loses to Ireland.

Quidditch can be a brutal sport, often resulting in injuries as people fall off broomsticks or get slammed by bludgers. Fortunately, the magical world can usually address injuries almost immediately. For muggle Quidditch, certain modifications to the game had to be made to reduce possible injuries, since we are not so good at instant cures to broken bones.

Naturally, muggle Quidditch cannot be played on flying broomsticks, though many fans of the Harry Potter world wish it could. Neither the bludgers nor the snitch can be enchanted. Therefore, muggle Quidditch must be played on the ground, and adds to the team’s seven members two players called bludgerers, who throw the bludger around to mimic the enchanted movement of magic bludgers.

To keep things safe, bludgers tend to be made of soft foam, so anyone coming into contact with a bludger will not suffer injury. The beaters still try to repel the bludger, but if someone is hit by a bludger, they are temporarily “out” of the game. The tagged player must usually sit on the sidelines for an agreed upon time period before rejoining the game.

The quaffle is still handled by the three chasers, and is usually a size three or four soccer ball. In some variants, players use a basketball, which must be dribbled and passed to get to the team’s goal posts. The keeper is still the only one who can attempt to block shots to the goals. The chasers can kick or throw the ball into the hoops. Each goal still earns 10 points.

At some point in the game, the two referees or other designated persons, such as parents, release the snitch. Two more players may be added, snitchers to throw the snitch through the field at varying intervals. This position is excellent for differently abled adults or children who may not be able to run through the field well or hold some of the other team positions. The muggle snitch is a tiny, high-bouncing ball. Depending on the variants, the snitch may be released more than once, with the 150 points going to the seeker who catches the snitch most often, or it may be released only once as in wizard Quidditch.

Both muggle and wizard Quidditch are co-ed sports. For non-magic folk, the adaptations have created a fun, rather confusing game that is a chaotic mix of basketball, soccer, dodge ball, cricket, and simple catch. Most muggles will agree, though, that they would prefer to play Rowlings’ original sport, as we secretly desire a flying broomstick.

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