Magic turns muggle

By Colin Shively

A new trend of sports is taking flight at Northwestern University. Like most sports, it has balls, goals and teammates—yet unlike all other traditional sports found at colleges and universities, these games are played on broom sticks, and a little imagination.

Marc Bourgeois, a sophomore at Northwestern, is in the beginning efforts to create a coed Quidditch team at the school where the Residential College Board has already hosted a Quidditch event. Unlike the Harry Potter sport where they fly on brooms, this is “Muggle Quidditch,” where instead of flying, they run with brooms between their legs because Muggles are non-magical humans.

“We know it isn’t real Quidditch,” Bourgeois said. “We can’t fly. But it is definitely a lot of fun. I have heard of other colleges around the country creating their own Quidditch team, and I love Harry Potter, so I just decided that it would be a cool thing to have.”

Muggle Quidditch is played by the same rules that govern the game in the Harry Potter books, with just a few alterations to fit the non-magical elements.

Players must always have one hand on the broom while keeping it between their legs as they move about the field. Teams are not segregated into titles such as chaser, beater or seeker as in Harry Potter, but rather all players are going for the quaffle, which is the ball to score with. The snitch, which in Harry Potter is the small, walnut-sized ball that awards 150 points to the team who captures it, is recreated as a player dressed in bright yellow who runs freely around the field, avoiding the seekers.

The game isn’t all about the quaffle and snitch, though. Players on both teams must watch out for the bludgers, which in Muggle Quidditch, are softened rubber balls that are kicked at the player that, at the moment, is holding the quaffle.

“It isn’t a pushover sport,” Bourgeois said. “There is some action in the game and some player-to-player contact. We can bump people while running to steer them off course, but we don’t want any serious injuries.”

The United States is home to the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association, founded in 2007. With more than 200 colleges and now high schools creating Muggle Quidditch teams, the league has grown exponentially and is always adding new teams.

The International Quidditch Association originally was founded at Middlebury College where Alexander Manshel started a few Quidditch games as an intramural sports league.

In 2007, Alex Benepe became the new Quidditch Commissioner and created the IQA, which expanded beyond the United States to include colleges in Canada.

“There is nothing better than seeing more and more colleges want to enter the IQA,” said Benepe. “When we get a request for a team to join the group, we send them the rules and all the steps they have to do. We have had some amazing times with schools meeting up and facing each other.”

The Quidditch team at Northwestern is a separate group from the Residential College Board.

The Residential College Board is an organization that hosted its own event on Oct. 29 where more than 60 students came out and played a modified game of Quidditch, despite the cold and the rain.

“The Residential College Board represents all of the different colleges at Northwestern,” said Lillian Cheng, executive of the board. “Despite it being horrible weather, kids came out and had a great time. We don’t think we would do this again in the winter, but in the spring it is a definite possibility.”

As Muggle Quidditch becomes more and more popular among college and high school campuses, chances for a national tournament become even more prominent.