The Quidditch court, brooms and goal posts ready.
Photos by Kathleen Gasperini
Last weekend at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park near Houston and Bowery in SoHo, two teams dressed in colorful make-shift uniforms launched into a grand tournament of Quidditch. The fictional sport from the Harry Potter series has turned into a reality for many young people across the world, especially in New York City with competing teams from NYU, Columbia, and other college campuses in the area.
As if to set the official stage for play, at the start of the tournament a young gentlemen dressed as though he’d just re-apparated from Diagon Alley complete with a tophat and duster gathered the two team captains to discuss the rules of play and sportsman like conduct to be expected. Meanwhile on the sidelines, each starting team of 7 prepared their 3 round goal posts, and practiced running moves and ball pitches while holding broomsticks between their legs.
Quidditch played live. Running with a broom between your legs is a challenge.
While it looks rather funny, these teams are serious and have choreographed plays using the same rule system as in the Potter series, complete with two bludgers (red gym balls) and a quaffle (a soccer ball in this case), and a live golden snitch. The snitch is actually a person dressed in gold who is often the most dodgy of players and who carries a small sack with a tiny rubber ball in it on his back. Once he’s “released” all players try to snag his ball because that’s an automatic win.
Although there have been comparisons of live Quidditch tournaments with diehards who recreate other subcultures such as Dungeons and Dragons players or Cosplay, this is a fast-growing, albeit niche sport, that shows great potential. First, it’s co-ed. Some of the girls we witnessed from the NYU team were quicker and faster than the guys. Secondly, it presents all sorts of new equipment and marketing possibilities with ideas such as broomsticks you can run with, Quidditch footwear (most wore either skate sneaks or running shoes), team uniforms, merch, gloves, balls, goal posts, and golden snitch suits.
The snitch in the live version is actually a person–usually the fastest and most dodgy. He or she wears a golden suit and there%uFFFDs a little ball on the back of his belt.
The sport also takes advantage of using urban parks and basketball courts for yet another purpose, which has attracted not only players, but fans who seem fascinated that they are actually watching a fictional sport in reality.
Even though there’s only one more Harry Potter movie left in the series, we anticipate that Quidditch, played live, will not fade away soon based on the growing fanbase and quirky, inclusive feeling one gets from participating in a new, niche sporting subculture.
Quidditch is co-ed.
All brooms down at the start of the tournament with the starting line-up getting prepared. Play starts once the bludger balls and quaffle are released, and the referee releases the snitchman who disappears, then re-appears later in the game.