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Yes, Quidditch is a real (and growing) sport. And passionately coed.

May 31, 2011 – 10:37 AM
















By Laura Pappano

It may look like an excuse for college students to gather in a festival atmosphere. And on the surface, Quidditch, the Harry-Potter-inspired sport in which players ride on brooms (ok, run with them between their legs), is a reach.

But, then, basketball probably looked odd to those who first spotted boys at the YMCA in Springfield, MA in 1891 hoisting soccer balls into peach baskets.

Like basketball, Quidditch is not merely about the physical challenge of play and competition, but also reflects a social goal. Basketball, invented to occupy boys indoors during winter, embraced the late 1800’s belief in “Muscular Christianity.” Strengthen (men’s) bodies to insure they were vigorous, manly vessels for godly values.

Is Quidditch, then, a means for countering Voldemort? Well, no, it’s actually more reflective of 21st Century sport values, including gender equity.

Aimee Howarth, outreach director and member of the board of directors of the International Quidditch Association, spoke with FGN about the rising popularity of this campus sport – and it’s co-ed, gender fair karma.

FGN: How is the Quidditch you play, which has 7 players per team (3 Chasers, 2 Beaters, 1 Keeper and 1 Seeker), different from the Harry Potter books?

AH: The main difference is that we run instead of fly and the snitch is a person – we call them a snitch runner – dressed in gold or yellow. The goal is to knock people off their brooms. If you get hit by a bludger (we use dodgeballs) if you get hit by one of those have to run back to your goal post and you have to drop the quaffle [if you have it] or another bludger. The game ends when the snitch is caught. You get 10 points for getting the quaffle through the opposite goal posts (the quaffle is usually a volleyball or soccer ball slightly deflated so you can grab it).

FGN: Isn’t it hard to run with a broom?

AH: You get used to it. The hardest thing about running on a broom is you only have one hand for catching and throwing. Most people don’t even really notice it.

FGN: Can you use any kind of broom?

AH: We are working on getting an official broom. For the World Cup, we use Alivan’s brooms.

FGN: Where is the World Cup? How big an event is it?

AH: This year it will be November 12-13 at Randall’s Island in NYC. Last year we had 40,000 viewers and 46 teams competing. This year, we are expecting 80 teams.

FGN: How is this sport categorized on college campuses?

AH: We are a club sport. It’s not NCAA or anything like that. We are trying not to go in that direction because some of the uniqueness of our sport could be taken away.

FGN: You mentioned to me that this sport supports gender fair play? How?

AH: As a league we are co-ed and require at least two players [excluding the Seeker] to be of another gender. It is one of the only sports I’ve seen that makes that a rule. We don’t have any rule where if a woman or girl scores its like 2 points that you see in some leagues. We are thinking of requiring each position to be coed.

FGN: Why is that?

AH: We typically see more women players in the Beater position [defense] and more male players in the Chaser position [offense]. From a feminist standpoint that goes along with the Chaser being a more valued position because they score. That is not always the case, but its is something that we kind of noticed. So we are thinking of having offense and defense mixed sex. The board as a whole is committed to this [gender fairness].

FGN: You say this is a competitive sport. Do you have injuries?

AH: It is super competitive. Even though it is seen as a kind of a joke to people on the outside, it is super physical. The most common injuries? We have a lot of broken collarbones. We have had concussions. We haven’t had serious, serious injuries. Most often it is the shoulders, arms.

FGN: And after competition?

AH: Yes, after the World Cup everyone goes to get Butterbeer, which is actually beer with butterscotch in it, I think.


  1. 3 Responses to “Yes, Quidditch is a real (and growing) sport. And passionately coed.”

  2. Dork alert!

    running around with brooms emulating a childrens storybook sport? aaahahahahaha. if that’s the future of gender equity, then times have certainly grown bleak.

    at least they’re getting exercise, i guess.

    hope they don’t wear themselves out for the big Dungeons and Dragons tournament.

    By meJane on Jun 5, 2011

  3. and while we’re at it, how is creating special rules for offense and defense to be co-ed any different than the silly co-ed softball rules you rail against?

    too many men on offense (read, getting the attention) = change the rules. I mean, why give your team the best chance to win with the faster offensive players when feelings and social engineering are at stake? Feminism takes two steps back with every out-of-touch position you marshal because it pushes it further away from gaining mainstream support.

    By meJane on Jun 5, 2011

  4. Thanks for the comments meJane.

    In response to the first comment- yes, most of us are dorks I suppose because we love the Harry Potter book series so much that we actually took the time to reinvent/play the game. But I thought you might be interested to know that unlike most sports, Quidditch brings many different kinds of people together- anywhere from dorks to pretty serious athletes. At the school I attended there were lacrosse, rugby and soccer players (that played for our school) on our Quidditch team. It was really neat to see people who ordinarily would not get the chance to play sports, or even meet- to come together and become such amazing teammates.

    In response to the second comment-
    I would like to remind you that we have NOT come to a decision on implementing a gender rule for offense & defense positions. As of now we have no “silly coed softball rules” like you mentioned besides that each team “must have two players of the other gender”. You can read more about our rules on our website (www.internationalquidditch.org)

    Because this is a coed, or sex-integrated sport, we would like it to actually be a sex-integrated sport. If males are playing males (chasers playing chasers) and females playing females (beaters playing beaters), then it’s not really sex-integrated is it? (This is not always the case obviously, just something we’ve noticed)

    So to answer your question, yes we are sort of “socially engineering” Quidditch. We really want this to be a sex-integrated sport. It’s a very important part of Quidditch in the HP series and in our organization. (For more information on the benefits of coed or sex-integrated sports, please feel free to contact me).

    As a supporter of equality between men and women, the IQA (International Quidditch Association) would like to believe that yes, implementing Title 9 3/4, does go beyond sports & competition, and hopefully will have a broader social impact on other areas of life (such as the workplace, family, violence, and so forth).

    If that means creating rules, then maybe we will. As of now however, we really value your opinion and most assuredly do not want to take two steps back in feminism.

    I’m afraid however, that any stance on gender equity is hardly mainstream, and will continue to be a tough position to take in any form.

    By Aimee H on Jun 5, 2011

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