Harry Potter Quidditch tournament scheduled for this Sunday at the U of M

​Just when you thought Harry Potter fans had reached their limit, there's more: This Sunday afternoon, the University of Minnesota's Quidditch team will host their first Halloween tournament featuring a Harry Potter bake sale, prizes, a raffle, and the chance to watch teams compete to be the first Fall Champions.

No this isn't LARP (Live Action Role Play), but almost. Triggered by strict dedication to the sport's rules as mapped out by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series, Quidditch teams are actually all over the U.S., from Harvard to Princeton to the University of Minnesota. And yes, most do believe they can fly on their brooms.

Fans of Harry Potter have been forming leagues and playing in Quidditch games for over four years now. With hundreds of teams from all parts of the U.S., the sport is growing in popularity at a rather baffling rate. In fact, in two weeks New York City will host the International Quidditch Association 2010 World Cup.

​Just like in the books, team members must be "on" their brooms at all times (a.k.a. hold it between their legs while they run). But unlike in the series, these players are not magical wizards, no matter what they say. And how about the Golden Snitch, the small ball that immediately ends the game in Harry Potter? Well, in the real world it's a cross-country runner dressed in gold head to toe with a ball in a sock hanging out their shorts who is given free range of campus to evade the "seekers." From an outsider's perspective, it looks like lacrosse gone wacky, with sticks between legs instead of in the air.

The amount of detail paid when participating is surprising--the brooms are upwards of $60, while capes and correctly colored headbands are a must. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Morris and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have official Quidditch teams, and are part of the growing movement to turn Quidditch into an officially recognized NCAA sport. 

​After watching videos of various teams online, it is clear that their aspirations for their sport are even loftier than the NCAA. They hope to be included in the Olympics some day. (Say what?)

So what do you think? Is this merely a creative way to get some exercise, or an obsession taken to a rather bewildering level? 

If you would rather watch the sport in person before making a judgment, the U of M's first Halloween Quidditch tournament will take place from 2:30 to 6 p.m. in front of the Coffman Memorial Union.