What is the best fantasy sport you can play and actually break a sweat when doing it? Why its, Quidditch! Yes, real life Quidditch. At booth 922, many members of Illinois State's Quidditch team stood around enthusiastically explaining to any curious passerby how to play and why its great! They offered t-shirts, brooms, and information for everyone.
I spoke with Max Kaplan and he explained to me that the International Quidditch Association is a non-profit that is working to inspire young people to be physically active and to build a community. He also gave me a quick explanation of how the game is played when you don't actually have magical flying brooms on hand.
First, when positioned on a broom the bristle end is behind you and the handle is in front of you, the broom must be between your legs at all times. There are three different types of balls, a quaffle (which is used to score goals), three bludgers (which are used to hit the other team), and a snitch (I'll explain that in a second). Now each team will have seven players on the field at a time, three chasers, two beaters, one seeker, and one keeper. There will also be back up players and one designated snitch. The snitch will wear a yellow sock with a ball on them, they are also dressed completely in gold or yellow to set them apart from the other players. This snitch is worth 150 points and catching them means it is the end of the game, it is the Seekers' job to do this. The Keepers' job is to watch the goal, protect it from any quaffles that are trying to get thrown through your team's three hoops. Chasers are the ones who try to get the quaffle through the hoops and the Beaters are the ones playing dodgeball with the bludgers and trying to knock down the opposing team players.
On opposing sides of the field, there are three hoops for both teams, the middle being higher than the two at its side. Each goal is worth ten points, which can add up if the snitch isn't caught. The best way to describe this game is a mix between dodgeball, touch football, and rugby. When the game begins players must be at their goals with brooms on the ground waiting for the signal to run and grab the four balls (one quaffle and three bludgers) waiting in the middle of the field.
Max explained further that the IQA is rapidly growing all over the country and recently they had their first international match with a team from Finland. And last year at their World Cup in New York there were about 20,000 spectators and about 800 athletes. They've been featured on CNN and Good Morning America.
I even got a chance to watch a game for myself later int he day in room 183 A+B and am completely hooked. Right when the snitch was released out on the field, I found myself actually excited for a sport. I found it easy to find the seekers not just because they chased the snitch all over the floor (and out beyond the floor into the convention) but they also wore yellow ribbons on their heads. Watching them I was extremely impressed with their ability to catch a ball bigger than their head with one hand, run with a broomstick between their legs, and score a goal! The match was between University of Michigan and Illinois State University. Both were so good I couldn't decided who to root for so I cheered whenever either made a goal.
Quidditch is not just for Harry Potter fans, its a fun energetic sport that looks just as fun to play as it is to watch. It is a full contact sport and the players are fearless and will impress anyone with their skills. I highly recommend this game for yourself and any kids!
To learn more about the International Quidditch Association check out, http://internationalquidditch.org and find a game playing near you! Also take a look at the team pages for the university of Michigan (http://umichquidditch.com) and Illinois State University (https://sites.google.com/site/illinoisstatequidditch/home).
Samantha LaFountain lives and writes in Chicago. She has now found the first sport she has ever wanted to find a team to follow, paint herself in their colors and wear giant foam fingers on both hands.