In the wizarding world of Harry Potter there are: wands, witches and then there is quidditch. A game that once lived within the pages of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novels, has now taken over Canada and is growing more quickly all the time.
Yara Kodershah, the communications director for Quidditch Canada, says the sport has expanded from college kids playing it in the quad for fun, to a full fledged athletic sport. However, she is quick to point out that because of its Hogwarts origins, it is hard for people to see the sport behind the story.
“I am of the opinion that quidditch as a sport and as a game can still be whimsical and people can play the game and not take themselves so seriously,” Koderdash says. “I mean we are running around with broom sticks between our legs after all, and still appreciate the fact that it is a really challenging and exciting sport and a really great way to grow athletically and physically.”
Quidditch is played like any other sport really, there are balls, nets and points to be earned. However, each player has to keep a broom tucked between their legs the whole time, and there is a human dressed as a golden snitch that can do whatever it wants whenever it wants.
The golden snitch works as a referee, player and actual piece of equipment — because if you catch them, you are able to achieve points.
Despite some calling it a silly idea, this sport actually requires the players to run for long periods of time, throw dodgeballs and be able to take a hit as it is a full-contact sport.
There are 21 quidditch teams in Canada, from university teams like the U of C Mudbloods to community teams like the Calgary Mavericks.
The sport only started in 2014, but this gives them an advantage over other games. The organizers have the ability to create their own rules and framework for how the game can be played.
“There are more opportunities for us to grow in different and exciting ways rather than what we are seeing with a lot of sports right now. People are trying to retroactively oppose these parameters of inclusivity on sports that have been happening for decades. So I think we are at an advantage in that way,” Koderdash says.
One of the ways the sport is challenging the norm is by implementing a gender inclusive rule — meaning that the sport recognizes the full spectrum of gender and believes that anyone can play their game if they are so inclined.
“If someone were to identify as non-binary or trans or any other gender that you can possibly imagine, there would be room and space for them to join,” says Kodershah.
This policy affects teams of all sizes, even those that play at the university level. The U of C Mudbloods take the rule to heart and make sure that everyone at their university has a chance to try out for the game no matter their level of athleticism.
Jenny Zhang, vice president of communications for the University of Calgary’s Harry Potter Quidditch Club and their team, the U of C Mudbloods, says that the club is really just a way to get better involved in the university community and be healthy.
“We’re really inclusive, you don’t have to be interested in Harry Potter, you don’t have to have an athletic background ... you could just be looking to have friends or to get some exercise in once a week.”
Zhang also noted that she has made more friends, stayed active and became more of a leader in her community from playing the sport in university.
“I’ve never played any team sports before, and it is totally a different dynamic. You depend on them they depend on you and you share responsibilities. And there is a really strong sense of community and friendship when you play on a team.”
Both Kodershah and Zhang believe that quidditch has potential to start a new era of competitive sports and create a more friendly environment in the athletic world.
“That creates an opportunity for people who are not as familiar with the gender spectrum or with the LGBTQ+ community to gain that familiarity by playing the sport. There is always the question of what kinds of people are allowed to play this sport, and hopefully one day the answer will be everyone,” says Kodershah.
- By Mackenzie Jaquish