Amy Pope explains the game of muggle quidditch, and encourages others to join the movement.
Many fans of the Potterverse will recall the main sport of the franchise fondly, although the specifics of the rules may be a little… fuzzy. Knowledge of Harry Potter or love for the wizarding world is not a requirement for the sport – however, for those who remain oblivious to the concept, quidditch is a sport played on flying broomsticks with a tiny winged golden ball, which becomes very important later. It may surprise you to learn that such a fantastical sport has been being played in the muggle world for over 15 years, and in every continent except Antarctica! Our fine city even has its own team – the Glasgow Grim Reapers, founded in January 2017, and still going strong. Quidditch is truly a sport played across the world, with competition at a local, British, European, and even world level. I personally first played quidditch in Texas, but more on that later.
Back to those fuzzy rules. A quidditch match requires two teams, six hoops, three bludgers, one quaffle, 14 players, 14 brooms, and one snitch. Yeah, a lot of equipment – most of it sitting in my cupboard, thanks to Miss Rona – but don’t let that intimidate you! It’s simpler than it looks – not least because depending on what position you play, half of those things magically become not your problem. But, a quick overview; the chasers’ job is to score points by putting the quaffle through the other team’s hoop. A beater’s job is to assist their team’s chasers or to prevent the opposing team’s chasers from scoring, by throwing bludgers at opposing chasers and beaters to get them out. The keeper’s job, while primarily there to defend the hoops, can often include directing play and assisting the chasers. Finally, the seeker’s job is to catch the snitch, ending the game and gaining their team the equivalent of three goals. The snitch? A human being wearing fluorescent yellow shorts, with a Velcro attachment on the back that the seeker has to steal. Just as hilarious as it sounds, I promise.
And the shenanigans don’t stop there, as the entire game is played “on-broom”, meaning every player has to have a PVC pipe held between their legs the whole game. No, they don’t actually fly, I’m sorry to say, but it’s still pretty spectacular. The beaters also aren’t allowed baseball bats, unlike in the magical version, much to the dismay of certain players! Muggle quidditch is a fairly eclectic mix of sports techniques, ranging from dodgeball to rugby to handball, but experience in those sports – or any sports – aren’t necessary, and the emphasis is on borrowed techniques, definitely not borrowed rules.
Unarguably, one of the biggest draws of the sport is its inclusivity. Despite what She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named might prefer, quidditch is certainly one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly sports around, with all genders acknowledged, and supported through the Gender Rule – a rule that no more than four people of the same gender may be on the pitch at any one time for your seven-player team, non-binary and queer genders included. This ensures that every team is mixed gender, making it one of the only mixed-gender, full-contact sports around. That’s right, quidditch is a full-contact sport, and perhaps not what you were expecting from a game pulled from the pages of a fantasy book series. Rest assured the rules in place for the sport strictly enforce safe contact procedures, and the likelihood of contact is largely dependent on player position, so the less contact happy participants can avoid it. Outside of LGBTQ+ support being built into the very foundations of the gameplay, the culture and community around quidditch are equally as welcoming, if not more so. Friendly faces and enthusiastic support abound, on and off the pitch, making for a genuinely lovely experience, supportive teams and a healthy drive to improve.
Quidditch encourages all kinds of personal development, be it in terms of fitness or physical skill, or lending bravery to interact with new people and develop friendships in a more social setting. A lot of tournaments are out of town and require some travel, which usually results in some memorable shenanigans, and the hosting team tends to throw pretty impressive socials to entertain their guests. Many teams have regular socials themselves, which improves teamwork, but also allows for some impressively strong friendships to grow.
I can personally attest to the welcoming nature of the quidditch community. I first played very briefly in Texas, and then came to a taster session for the Grim Reapers upon returning home last year. I never looked back, have met some truly amazing individuals, and have been made to feel welcome with them faster than I have in a very long time. I’ve only played one season with the Reapers, but I know I’ve gained relationships that will last a lifetime and a love for the sport that I hope I’ve been able to articulate to you.
As mentioned above, Glasgow’s quidditch team is called the Grim Reapers. Practice is, of course, temporarily on hold right now, but the team is hosting weekly socials and has some instructional videos filmed to help teach some basics in the interim. If quidditch sounds like your cup of tea (or butterbeer), feel free to contact the team via email ([email protected]), Facebook (Glasgow Grim Reapers Quidditch Team), Twitter (@GlasgowReapers), or Instagram (@glasgowgrimreapers). The team is always open to new members, or just for questions about the sport! And don’t worry, they don’t bite! (That’s against the rules, apparently.)