The Collegian
Sunday, January 24, 2021

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Quidditch: a sport that takes real brooms and balls to play

There's a new, hotshot broom sport, and frankly, it's a lot more exciting to watch.

Lifted straight from the pages of the popular Harry Potter series, Quidditch is now an official club sport at more than 300 universities and high schools in the U.S., according to the website of the International Quidditch Association, the sport's governing body. This "muggle" version of the fictional game has been called one of the country's fastest-growing sports in the last three years.

In my understanding, the game's basic rules boil down to this: each team must try to get a ball through the other team's hoops on each side of the field. "Chasers" must get the ball past "keepers" to reach the hoops, while dodging balls thrown at them from "beaters."

Meanwhile, a player dressed in stark yellow plays the role of the "snitch." He or she can leave the field and go anywhere in the area. "Seekers" attempt to catch the snitch to end the game and score major points.

And all of this is done with a broom between your legs.

I'll admit now that I'm not much of a fan of the Harry Potter books or movies, but that has not prevented me from loving to watch this sport.

And, all too rarely among club sports, Quidditch is completely co-ed. Talent is equally distributed between both genders. Every player hits hard and gets knocked down -- no pads allowed. The players are athletic too. Any thoughts of my joining the team ended quickly after I saw the amount of running each player does in a game.

Richmond's own Quidditch team is "clearly kicking ass and taking names this season," as one player put it to me. With about 50 active members, it is the second-largest club sport, and one of the youngest -- it was founded just four years ago. The players have a 21-8 record and have qualified for next year's international World Cup tournament in Florida.

And honestly, it's hard to not be interested in a sport that has "beater" as a position and plays with "snitches," "quaffles" and "bludgers."

The intensity of the action makes it a spectator sport that even novices can enjoy. And the dedication of the players, who have overcome marginal status and relatively low funding to reach top-ranked status in Virginia and reknown throughout the country, is certainly inspiring.

So, if you're looking for a fun sport to follow, or maybe even join, I suggest checking out Acromantulas: our own broom-mounted heroes and heroines.

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