balls, bludger, brooms, feminism, gender equality, global games 2014, Harry Potter, lgbtq, muggle quidditch, quaffle, quidditch, seeker, snitch, sports, trans equality, transgender, transgender rights, Vancouver
We found out about it totally by accident.
We were at an indoor play gym as part of our constant battle to keep our little extrovert entertained on the weekend. PH picked up a local paper to flip through while we sat in the overwhelmingly loud atmosphere.
“Hey, the Quidditch Global Games are in Vancouver,” he said.
“Like, where people run around on brooms?” I said.
“Oh, we need to see that. When is it.”
He scanned the article. “Today!”
So we packed Owl in the car and headed down to see.
It took us a while to find it. International competition not withstanding, the Quidditch Global Games had not attracted a large crowd. Most of the spectators were family and friends of the players.
We were geeking out.
“They have MERCHANDISE!” I said, running over to the booth. There were shirts from many of the international teams. After much hemming and hawing I bought shirt from the Mexican team, where were newcomers this year and could only afford to bring half of their team.
The shirt says “Viva Quidditch, cabrones!” and really, how often do you get a chance to buy a shirt that says (loosely translated) “long live Quidditch, bitches!” in Spanish?
We showed up at the perfect time, because Canada was just starting their match against Australia. We watched as all players bowed their head while the “Snitch” – a heavyset dude in yellow with a sock hanging out of the back of his pants – ran off of the field to hide.
When the Snitch was out of a sight, a whistle blew and all hell broke loose. The players grabbed their brooms, mounted them, and then fought to get a “Quaffle” (which, confusingly, was white) through the other team’s hoops. Since they were all holding onto their brooms, all throwing and catching was done one handed.
It all sounds pretty silly, until you watch it played.
This sport is FULL BODY CONTACT, guys. They were tackling each other like mad. We saw at least one person carted off of the field in a stretcher, and several more down for a good 5-10 minute count. This isn’t about some silly geeks LARPing in a soccer field. It’s like Rugby with extra balls and literary roots.
While Chasers fought one-handed over the Quaffle, Beaters were throwing dodge balls at the players. Whenever one of them got tagged by a “bludger” they had to dismount and run back and touch their hoops before they could re-enter play.
After 18 minutes the Snitch returned to the pitch and then the play became (if possible) even more intense. The seekers tried to tackle the Snitch, who wasn’t afraid to knock them down repeatedly, while opposing team members tried to interfere with play. Meanwhile, the Chasers are still trying to get the Quaffle through the hoops while also helping out their Seeker.
You don’t even know what to watch – keep your eyes on the Snitch and miss another incredible goal? Or watch the Quaffle and miss the capturing of the Snitch?
We were able to stay long enough to watch Canada come in third. We had to take Owl home to bed before the final match, which the USA ended up winning (Muggle Quidditch originated in the U.S, and the page for the international association is actually called USquidditch.com, which bothers me. Hopefully as international teams increase, there will be a truly international page set up).
Some friends of ours who are both sporty AND geeky also came out to watch.
“Why don’t we play this?” one of them asked.
PH has been missing sports in his life for many years.
In his high school yearbook, you can find his face in pretty much every team photo. Soccer, baseball, football, curling… he did it all.
In University he refereed several sports. But it’s surprisingly hard to get involved in sports here. There’s a big population and a lot of demand. When we moved to B.C. he tracked down the local baseball league and was rejected several times – they just didn’t have room for more players.
He did curling for a year or two, but since he had to take what he could get, he was shunted onto a team of lackluster players who he never quite jived with. He gave up in frustration after two seasons.
So then he decided to try refereeing. He got qualified as a soccer referee, but was only every called out to a few games, earning a grand total of a hundred dollars over a whole season. The next year they only called once. He didn’t bother re-certifying the next year.
Last year he decided to get certified as a softball referee. It cost us $150 and they never called him at all.
Quidditch, on the other hand, could be a whole other ball game.
PH tracked down a Quidditch referee to ask how he could get involved and they practically leaped on him. Turns out that there was a team in Burnaby that was looking for players, and they are short on referees.
By the time we left the field he had exchanged emails with several people and they were hoping to see him on the Quidditch pitch next Saturday. Today he downloaded the 150 page rule book and began memorizing it.
Quidditch rules, by the way, are awesome.
Not only is it a delightfully geeky and yet truly challenging sport to play, it is also heartwarmingly unlike other sports.
Besides being the only sport to involve multiple balls in play at once, the International Quidditch Association is dedicated to inclusivity and equality.
Teams MUST be co-ed, and it specifically addresses transgender issues in the rulebook. The co-ed rule reads:
Each team [is] to have at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex.
That is AWESOME.
The rule goes on to acknowledge that some players may not identify as male OR female, and that is okay, too.
If that rule wasn’t enough to make Perfect Husband and I fall head over heels in love with Quidditch (we consider ourselves ardent LGBTQ allies), our hearts were entirely won over when we learned that Quidditch also had a decree called Title 9 3/4 (a play on Title IX) which is devoted specifically to gender equality in the sport.
It’s so awesome, and I’m proud that PH is getting involved. I can cheer on Quidditch in a way that I just can’t with other sports. The literary roots of the sport generate some interest in me, and the gender-equality factor makes me want to support it.
I can’t wait to attend more games.