From the four corners of the Earth, 5 nations came together to do battle in Oxford this weekend as an International Quidditch tournament was held in Cutteslowe Park.
The real life game, adapted from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, is complete with broomsticks, a golden snitch, and is best described as a cross between rugby and dodgeball. Obviously there’s no flying involved but the action is seriously fast, frantic and hugely entertaining. The tournament was won by the favourites, Team USA, who beat Team France in a closely fought final.
Already popular in American universities, thanks to the formation of the International Quidditch Association (IQA) there is growing support across the rest of the world as more Student Unions and colleges are creating Quidditch Societies and starting Varsity teams. The IQA has grown since 2006 and now represents over 1000 teams across 13 nations.
Where will it go from here? Who knows. It has some real potential, but I can’t help feel that the one thing that makes it unique and identifiable is the one thing holding it back – and that’s the broomsticks. It’s a very physical game and really appealing to watch, but the broomsticks add a layer of silliness which threatens acceptance of the game to a wider audience. It also shackles the game to its Harry Potter roots, which if it’s to stand as a game in its own right, it might be a good idea to consider removing them. But that being said, the silliness they inject could be the ingredient that makes everyone enjoy themselves so much and not take the game so seriously. The competitors I spoke to were all very nice, slightly nerdy types, which would probably not feel quite so comfortable in more “serious” sporting competitions. They were definitely my kind of people.
There’s also the question of rights, licensing and ownership. With the IQA growing all the time, and the ever increasing popularity of the sport, there will be the inevitable moment when Warner Brother’s killjoy legal team step in to collect.
In all honesty, I’m not a Harry Potter fan and was very reluctant to go in the first place, but I found that I really enjoyed the afternoon!