Brace yourselves, muggles.
Minneapolis is getting its own Major League Quidditch team, which means it will be eligible to compete with the best of the best. Or at least with the other teams in the league’s North Division: the Cleveland Riff, Detroit Innovators, Indianapolis Intensity, and a new Toronto franchise.
If you’ve seen a single movie from the Harry Potter franchise, you know quidditch is a game played high in the air, with wizards and witches soaring on broomsticks and enchanted game balls whizzing past them.
If you’ve seen a single quidditch match in real life -- or have even bothered to imagine one -- you know the two are quite different. It’s mostly players running around a field with broomsticks between their legs, trying to get a volleyball through enemy goalposts while their opponents pelt them with dodgeballs.
The most distinct difference, however, is the magical golden snitch. In the books and movies, it’s a whiplash-quick winged ball the size of a walnut that a witch or wizard must try to catch to earn 150 points. In real life, the snitch is a human being wearing a tennis ball attached to the waistband of their shorts. If you want to “catch the snitch,” you’ve got to grab that ball.
Luke Zak has been playing quidditch for nearly a decade, so he’s pretty used to questions about whether or not his sport of choice is just a dorky fad. He started the University of Minnesota’s quidditch team in 2010, and since then, he says, it’s always had between 100 and 200 players on the roster.
He also successfully started a club team after he graduated, and has been to several international competitions with many of the other 39 countries that play the game. So, no, he doesn’t think quidditch is going to die anytime soon. If anything, Minneapolis’ new Major League Quidditch team is the latest in a series of footholds for chasers and seekers statewide.
And yes, quidditch is a made-up sport from a series of books about a boy wizard. But all sports are made up. On a cold day in 1891, a Canadian guy named James Naismith set up two peach baskets, divided his 18 students up into two teams of nine, gave them a soccer ball, and told them about a game he invented called “basketball.”
Only one basket was scored during that entire first game, because until then, nobody had thought much about how to throw a ball into a basket 10 feet in the air. Hell, even golf was banned for a time in 15th century Scotland because it wasn’t as serious or useful as archery.
Quidditch is a game that requires “a lot of skill” and “a lot of athleticism,” Zak says. If given the chance, it might just take on a life of its own, beyond the world of wands and wizards.