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Quidditch: not your average spectator sport

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Posted on October 27, 2009 | Blog Category:
By Andrea Suozzo



I didn’t really intend to play Quidditch again. I played in the first Quidditch World Cup at Middlebury College, back when it was definitely not a "World Cup."

That year it was an assorted bunch of teams wearing trash bags for capes and as many colorful pieces of clothing as they owned. The brooms were borrowed from custodial, and the goals were hula hoops duct-taped to chairs. Embarrassingly enough, a picture of me during the one game I ever played made it to the New York Times fashion section this summer. (I’m the one with bright orange hair in the bottom left corner. Don’t even ask what I was wearing.)

So it was a shock to be woken up this past Saturday morning by a call from one of my friends on campus.

“Andrea, half of our Quidditch team has swine flu. We don’t have enough players to field a team,” she told me.


The Death Eater Beaters in top form

So reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed and up to campus, into the rain and mud on Battell Beach. This time the hoops were PVC pipes painted gold and there were clearly-marked fields and tents for the players. 14 identical brooms sat on each field. This was only the Middlebury tournament — today’s winning team would go on to play in the actual World Cup tournament tomorrow — but some of these teams had customized shirts and matching capes.

Most of the people on my team, the Death Eater Beaters, had played once or twice at most. We weren’t in it to win. It was just a sport from that series of kids’ books that we all still loved. Here was a way to share our love, dorky as it may be, with other people who loved it too.

But the rules had changed a lot since the last time I played Quidditch. I don’t remember being scared the last time. This time, by the time our second game was halfway done, I had been cleated and body-checked. I’d been knocked aside from a tussle so forcefully that I’d doubled over, my chin connecting hard with my broom. Not to mention I was muddy and wet, head to toe.

Not that we didn’t have fun, but I was relieved when the team of giants we were playing caught the Snitch, ending the second game and eliminating our team. Dripping wet, I was finally able to go find a hot cup of coffee and a seat and set aside my fear of being impaled by a broom.

Quidditch is the result of many imaginations at work — J.K. Rowling, who invented the magical version of the sport; Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe, who adapted the fictional sport for the Muggles at Middlebury College; and all of the players who loved the books enough to form teams and come all the way to Middlebury from Texas, Louisiana, Canada…

But during Sunday’s World Cup, watching a girl from an opposing team get carted off of the field on a stretcher with a broken arm, I was happy to let Quidditch be a spectator sport. I’ll leave the mud, the injuries and the crazy costumes to the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association.

Now where’s my copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban?

Middlebury won Sunday’s Quidditch World Cup, followed by Emerson College in second and Boston University in third. See below for some of midd-blog.com’s footage of the commentators.

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