Adam Cohen, Ph.D
“When we headed to Middlebury for their 3rd World Cup, I was in
awe. The people from other teams were so varied. Our own team had our varsity
baseball team's pitcher, the president of the anime club, the lacrosse captain,
a photography student, and a few other randoms. It‘s the only sport where jocks
and dorks can coexist. It really is like no other sport on earth.”
J.K. Rowling has accomplished more than conquering the literary world (over 400 million books in the Harry Potter series have been sold) and the movie industry (over seven billion dollars grossed worldwide). According to the 2008 Kids & Family Reading Report, she can also be given accolades
for increasing children’s desire to read: "three
in four kids say reading Harry Potter or having someone read Harry Potter aloud has made them-interested in reading
other books." But beyond all of those successes from the franchise, there
could be yet another benefit rising in schools across the country.
above quote was taken from one of the thousands of passionate participants of a
game called quidditch, also known as Muggle Quidditch. Based on the fictional
sport in the Harry Potter books, it was founded in 2005 at Middlebury College.
Currently, over 300 colleges and high schools have created teams while hundreds
more around the world are being formed. According to the International
Quidditch Association (IQA), one of the major goals is, "to promote Quidditch
as a new sport and lead outreach programs to increase athletic participation among children and young
adults and bring magic to communities."
Getting people to participate in organized sport is a greater
challenge than ever before. With hundreds of channels on cable television, a
constant flow of new video games or computer systems, as well as internet and
social media entertainment, there are many excuses and distractions that keep
students away from sports. While the visual of kids who literally run around on
brooms, throw "quafﬂes" (volleyballs) and "bludgers" (dodgeballs),
and chase after a human "snitch" (a cross-country runner or wrestler
who is draped in yellow), might seem outlandish at first, this type of team
sport does provide an activity and an environment for students who normally
would avoid places like the football field or baseball diamond.
touts the game as a combination of rugby, dodgeball, and capture-the-flag.
Quidditch combines athleticism and silliness which potentially attracts a new
demographic of participants and like most sports, it requires running, jumping,
throwing, and tackling. Points are scored when "seekers" successfully
throw a ball through one of three hoops. Simultaneously, "beaters"
serve as defenders who throw dodgeballs at opponents to stop them. Finally and
similar to the fictional version, the
game concludes when a flag attached to the snitch is captured (Further
information on the rules may be found here: http://www.internationalquidditch.org/rules/.
Additionally, due to the rare nature of quidditch as a full
contact, coed sport and the lack of existing research on coed sport, this
activity provides a unique opportunity to investigate gender issues and
equality. Results have shown significant impact on gender views of the players
involved (i.e., stereotype reduction, heightened desires for inclusivity and
equality, and increased self-esteem). One participant sums up the change in attitude
and perception the sport can create: “At first I was a little hesitant about playing
aggressive against girls, but after that, no mercy! After playing for awhile
now, I truly appreciate coed sports because these girls are tough! Some are
tougher then I will ever be!”
While many coed efforts
have fallen short in creating an environment that promotes gender equality and
inclusivity, the IQA and the sport of quidditch seems to have succeeded. Although
some might say that it has not gained mainstream attention, it seems to have
grown beyond a simple parody of a pop culture phenomenon. With thousands of
players and fans around the globe, a World Cup event that is growing larger
annually, and even an exhibition between five different countries during the
2012 Summer Olympics, the sport is gaining momentum and reaching more people