College is a wonderful place. If your heart so desires, you can sleep until noon, wear pajamas to class and eat a steady diet of Chick-fil-a and ramen noodles. You can major in philosophy or take classes about zombie films or The Wire. You can even find on-campus clubs that discuss comic books or play Frisbee golf. College gives you a chance to try new things, develop your personality and to essentially spend your days doing the ridiculous.
If you are a Harry Potter fan, college even gives you a chance to play “Muggle Quidditch,” an adaptation of the imaginary sport Harry and his chums play at Hogwarts. Quidditch is quickly becoming a popular activity on many college campuses. So popular, in fact, that the International Quidditch Association, which was established in 2007, boasts that they have helped “more than 400 colleges and 300 high schools form teams, and over half of them are active already.”
In J. K. Rowling’s books, Quidditch is played by two teams of seven wizards and witches who fly around on broomsticks throwing balls into various hoops. The rules are actually a bit more complicated than that, but Wikipedia uses phrases like this to describe the rules, which are nonsensical to the uninitiated: “The Bludgers and the Snitch, having been bewitched, fly off on their own accord; the Snitch to hide itself quickly, and the Bludgers to attack the nearest players. The Quaffle is thrown into the air by the referee to signal the start of play.” (Seriously, those two previous sentences sound like something a stroke victim would say as he’s being carted off to the hospital.)
The game has been adapted for the real world since, no matter how many drugs they take, college kids cannot actually fly. Instead, players just carry around broomsticks for aesthetic purposes and the magical flying ball called a Snitch is replaced by a runner in a bright yellow outfit. It loses some of the charm of the magical version, of course, but it still gives Harry Potter fans a chance to get together and have some fun reenacting a part of the books and movies they love.
I have no problem with these kids getting together and playing this made up game that they enjoy. I do, however, find it ridiculous that these clubs are now petitioning the NCAA to get Quidditch recognized as an actual sport, which would force colleges to give money to these Quidditch teams and possibly even scholarships for prospective players.
According to the commissioner of the International Quidditch Association, Alex Benepe: “Anybody who comes to the championship match of the 2010 World Cup this year will be hard pressed to say that Quidditch would not deserve to be an NCAA sport. It’s an intense game.”
Benepe, who I’m sure is a sweet kid, couldn’t possibly be more wrong. I watched a few Quidditch videos online and to me it looks like something they would have made contestants do on American Gladiators back in the day. (The only difference being that the guy in the yellow costume playing the Snitch would have been 300 pounds of pure muscle and would have sported a glorious mullet.) No college kids ever petitioned the NCAA to recognize “The Eliminator” challenge as an official sport and that competition was way more intense than your Quidditch matches, so give it up, Benepe.
It’s bad enough that people out there keep pushing for golf and car racing to be considered real sports. We simply don’t have room for made up games involving broomsticks and hoops that were meant to be played by magical wizards. I’m sorry, International Quidditch Association, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise, sparkly vampire enthusiasts will start petitioning the NCAA to have Twilight-style vampire baseball recognized as a sport too. Maybe when ESPN actually gets around to forming The Ocho, they can throw you a bone and find a spot for Quidditch coverage after they run the show about the waterskiing squirrels, but until then just stop give up this ridiculous quest to be taken seriously as a sport.
Like I said, I fully support your right to form these Quidditch clubs on your college campuses. If that’s what you’re into, more power to you. I’m also fine if you want to go to parties and play beer pong all night. Just don’t expect the NCAA to start forcing colleges to pay for your red plastic cups or offer beer pong scholarships.
What you are doing is pretending to be wizards. It’s silly. It’s no different than when I would take a cardboard tube and pretend to have lightsaber fights with my friends, using my mouth to make all the sound effects. (My parents were too cheap to buy me one of those cool plastic battery-powered lightsabers.) I wasn’t really battling Darth Vader on the Death Star and you aren’t really playing a magical sport. Quidditch isn’t actually a thing. It’s all make-believe.
Honestly, you are a lot like Civil War reenactors. You dress up in costumes and square off against each other in pretend battles or matches. And that’s fine. I have nothing against Civil War reenactors. But I would get upset if those reenactors started demanding they get Veterans benefits from the government or admission into the VFW.
You need to take a step back and reevaluate things, IQA. Recruiters are never going to offer prospective Quidditch students cars and money under the table to get them to play seeker for their team. Gamblers aren’t going to spend their Saturdays reviewing the Quidditch lines and betting on the outcome of your games. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon aren’t going to start shouting at each other on PTI about Quidditch’s controversial BCS standings. (Kornheiser would of course be defending all of the Quidditch teams at the big name schools while Wilbon would pull for Boise State’s squad.)
Don’t try to be something you’re not. You are nerds, not jocks. College athletes don’t read books (they are too busy taking basket weaving and ball room dancing classes). Just enjoy your Quidditch clubs and stop trying to get your fun social activity recognized as a real sport. The NCAA is never going to go for it and you sound silly for even trying to pull this move.
Just be content that you have the luxury to spend four years of your life playing Quidditch. Throw on some pajama pants, eat some ramen and take a moment to think about how awesome your life is. Quidditch isn’t a sport, it’s something far better – it’s a chance for you to goof off with your friends doing something ridiculous. It’s a license to waste your entire afternoon. So, enjoy it while you can because pretty soon you are going to have to actually go out and get a job.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.