He’s a Keeper: How Ron’s Insecurities About Quidditch Keep Him from Dating Hermione
Ron and Hermione’s relationship has its rocky ups and downs, its fights and make-ups, all leading to a final romantic moment at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Despite the fact that Hermione often complains about Quidditch, Quidditch plays a huge role in the development of their romantic relationship, mainly because of the importance Ron places on it.
Quidditch first starts being important at the very moment when Ron begins to realize his romantic feelings for Hermione. Hermione goes to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum, which ignites Ron’s jealousy. Ron, in his immature state, probably believes that Hermione is dating Viktor Krum because of his Quidditch ability despite the fact that Hermione doesn’t care much about Quidditch.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that, the very next year, Ron goes out of his way to get on the Quidditch team. Although Ron has always loved watching Quidditch and playing Quidditch casually, there’s no real evidence that he enjoys playing the game competitively. He’s clearly on the team with something to prove, not only to his family and to the school but also to Hermione. He is hurt and insulted when Hermione falls asleep after he makes the Quidditch team and snaps at her for trying to reassure him when his first practice goes badly. Halfway through the year, Ron learns that Hermione is still keeping in touch with Viktor Krum and asks Harry, “What does she see in Krum?” Very unhelpfully, Harry replies, “I s’pose he’s older, isn’t he… and he’s an international Quidditch player….” (OotP 461). Although Harry isn’t trying to, he ends up confirming Ron’s misbelief that Hermione will only be interested in him if he’s better at Quidditch.
It’s during their sixth year, however, that Quidditch really comes to the forefront. Hermione has realized how important Quidditch is to Ron’s feelings of self-worth, and she Confunds Cormac McLaggan so that Ron will win the Keeper tryouts. Ron, however, is still struggling at Quidditch, and when this coincides with him being reminded of Hermione’s relationship with Viktor Krum (and learning that she snogged him), his confidence takes such a blow that he is unable to save a single goal. This fact, combined with Hermione’s apparent belief that Ron can only save goals with the help of Felix Felicis, leads to a complete disintegration of their relationship and Ron getting together with Lavender Brown.
Hermione apparently realizes that Quidditch is Ron’s weakness, and she decides to use it against him as punishment for his poor treatment of her. Instead of bringing Ron to Slughorn’s Christmas party, she asks Cormac McLaggen, and when Parvati says “Wow, you like your Quidditch players, don’t you? First Krum, then McLaggen…,” she responds, “I like really good Quidditch players” (HBP 313). Ouch.
Clearly, it’s ridiculous for Ron to assume that Hermione would only like him if he’s good at Quidditch. However, Ron’s insecurity runs so deep that he clings to Quidditch as something that Hermione will find impressive, and thus, he falls into more and more self-hatred as it turns out that he is not actually very good at it. Luckily for their relationship, there is no Quidditch on their hunt for the Horcruxes, but Ron still finds ways to be insecure, mainly by assuming that Hermione loves Harry instead of him. Ron has to become more self-assured and let go of his idea of being a good Quidditch player before he can finally start dating Hermione.