Last weekend marked the 4th annual Quidditch World Cup (hosted in New York City), and believe it or not this is in fact a real sport! Over 400 schools from around the US and Canada compete a yearly tournament and the top 46 are invited to compete in the World Cup. Some of you may be wondering how exactly players fly on brooms... And so did we, so MuggleNet attended the event to find out!
Disappointingly enough, we discovered that players do not in fact fly (shockingly), but that isn't for lack of trying. Each player is required to have a broom between their legs at all times - partially because like all aspects of the game, all of the rules described in the Harry Potter books are respected, and partially because it probably just feels quite comfortable. Each team consists of chasers, beaters, a keeper and a seeker. Points are scored by throwing the Quaffle through the 3 hoops; if players are hit by a Bludger (think dodgeball), they have to drop the Quaffle and return to their team's hoops before rejoining play. Finally, when the snitch is caught (which is worth 30 points instead of 150), the game ends.
Despite being played on foot, matches in the Quidditch World Cup (QWC) are every bit as violent as its fictional counterpart due to rough tackles, rogue Bludgers and a serious desire to win! Ambulances were on hand to treat the injured since Madam Pomfrey couldn't make it; thankfully our friends at Alivan's were also there, providing wands for those players that needed to cast the odd Reparo charm to fix any smashed brooms.
Perhaps the most shocking parts of the QWC were the snitches. Not a flying golden ball, but a fast-paced human dressed in yellow that utilized every mischievous, devious and cunning trick in their arsenal to refrain from begin caught. Such tricks included: running out of the Quidditch arena, down several streets and avenues to local Starbucks and enjoying a quiet coffee; climbing up poles that clumsy seekers couldn't reach; hiding in tents and even the local ice-cream truck; and covering their yellow outfits with a referee shirt and pretending to penalize the team of the poor seeker that was chasing them! The more daring snitches would routinely cartwheel across the pitch, taunting players, and sometimes stealing their brooms so they couldn't even be pursued.
Nevertheless, each match allowed teams to exhibit huge amounts of skill with fast paced throwing and catching coupled with perfect aim and stamina that left the audience in awe. However, no one quite left such a big impression as the commentators. In true Lee Jordan style, each game sported a small cohort of commentators that occasionally reported on the match in hand, but tended to drift into strange but hilarious tales including the details of dental root canals, particularly epic Nicolas Cage movies, toilet water in San Francisco and 5 reasons why the Death Star's trash compactor was not sufficiently realistic. Fortunately, QWC organizer and founder Alex Benepe was on hand to take on the Professor McGonagall role, if the commentators needed a quick reminder to remain on track.
The event spanned both Saturday and Sunday, with the finalists (Middlebury vs Tufts) showing a truly spectacular game which ended with reigning champions Middlebury winning by 100 points to 50, despite Tufts catching the snitch to end the game. This event which has been growing in popularity each year boasted its biggest audience to date (into the thousands), and MuggleNet can't wait to be back next year.