Locals Students Play Harry Potter’s Quidditch
Friday, July 15, 2011
Photo by Angela Carone / KPBS
Local high school and college students play the sport of Quidditch, a fictional sport from the Harry Potter books and movies.
The latest and last Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," has just opened in theaters and will surely set off a frenzy of fan adulation and regret. The run of movie adaptations (and its massive box office revenues) are now over, thus the regret, for both fans and Warner Bros.
Lead actor Daniel Radcliffe tells the Hollywood Reporter there's a lot he'll miss about playing Harry, but one of them is NOT Quidditch. In the books and movies, Quidditch is the sport that young witches and wizards play, including Harry.
Divina Magracia is a senior at Helix High. She says that "Quidditch to the magical world was like football to America." Fans of the books often refer to the Harry Potter universe as "the magical world."
Quidditch is played on brooms while flying through the air.
Radcliffe may not enjoy riding a broom, but Magracia and a group of fellow students seem to disagree. Of course, in the non-magical world, the world of muggles - that is the human world - Quidditch is played on the ground.
Nicholas Johnson is the captain of the San Diego Devil Snares, a community team made up of UCSD students. He says, "That seems to be the part that surprises people the most, that we don’t actually fly."
Watching a match of high school students play Quidditch is highly entertaining. These teenagers - of varying athletic ability - are running around the field with brooms between their legs.
Divina Magracia points to one guy who’s using a Swiffer mop as his broom. "Some of the other brooms are just your regular household brooms. Some plastic, some wooden. One of our wooden brooms actually broke so it might be better to have plastic."
Helix High senior, Bridget Fitch, has just come out of the match and rests on the sidelines. She wears colorful striped knee socks with her shorts. She says real world Quidditch works just like it does in the books, but without the flying and the magic. "It’s one part kind of like soccer, and another part like tag, and another like dodgeball. And all of this is going on at the same time."
Johnson explains part of the appeal of muggle Quidditch (the term used to describe non-magical Quidditch). "There’s sort of a humor to it that we’re carrying a broom around pretending to fly but at the same time we’re still playing a sport that’s competitive."
Harrison Humel is a senior at UCLA and the western regional director for the International Quidditch Association. He agrees that a sense of humor about muggle Quidditch is key. "One of the central notions of the sport is the tongue and cheek. Because it has to be. You have to be able to take a step back and realize that what we’re doing is ridiculous, but that it’s extremely fun and it’s still a legitimate sport but also a little bit wacky."
A muggle Quidditch field has three elevated gold hoops at each end. One of the ways you score (there are others - it's complicated!) is to throw a deflated volleyball, known as a quaffle, through the hoops. This doesn’t look easy since you have to throw the ball with one hand, while the other one holds your broom. San Diego Devil Snares captain Nicholas Johnson: "And that’s what we’re practicing most when our team meets every week is being able to throw the ball and pass it and carry it down the field with one of your hands constantly holding your broom up."
In the Harry Potter series, Quidditch is considered a rough sport, and that’s true in the real world as well. Players speed up and down the field, with broom handles jutting forth. Helix High junior Karina Mora says, "It’s a lot of dodging. You try to not take people head on, cause you’ll get speared in the face."
According to the International Quidditch Association, there are more than 270 Quidditch teams in the US, with 18 in California, and three in San Diego. The San Diego Devil Snares are ranked 26th in the country. Divina Magracia says high school teams are sprouting up, and may not be on the Association’s radar yet. "The concept of muggle Quidditch started with like Princeton or Duke, like basically Ivy League schools started it, other colleges got onto it and it trickled down to the high school level."
Harrison Homel predicts muggle Quidditch will only grow in popularity, as kids who’ve grown up with the books play in high school and then join college leagues. In fact, Homel says they’re reaching out to younger fans, "That is, kids Quidditch where we put children on brooms and its adorable and we modify the rules a little bit but it definitely appeals to the sense of wonder."
Homel says Quidditch draws kids who don’t often play sports. Proud parents Sarah and Dana Fitch say they love watching their daughter Bridget play with her high school friends. "We’ve never had the opportunity to watch her in a sport ever. You have to admit, it’s pretty entertaining to watch a bunch of kids run around throwing balls with brooms between their legs."
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