Quidditch brings inclusivity to field

Cadence Neenan, Senior Staff Reporter

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To be clear: The Tulane Quidditch team is not a Harry Potter fan club. 

“There was a Harry Potter fan club for a few years… It was called Dumbledore’s Army,” Katie Reeves, chaser and former vice president and co-captain, said. “I went to a couple meetings, just out of pure curiosity, and it went downhill real fast.”

Quidditch, on the other hand, is a club sport team officially recognized by Tulane and is one of around 200 teams nationwide. The team practices roughly three times a week, with conditioning sessions sprinkled in, and competes in tournaments several times a year.

“Quidditch is not Harry Potter,” chaser Richie Rayant said. “Quidditch is a full-tackle, hands-on sport. You will be doing a lot of running, a lot of everything.”

While Quidditch clearly bases its origins in the Harry Potter series, the game has evolved in the nine years since Middlebury College hosted the first game in 2005.

“I would say the sport is like a handball-rugby hybrid. There’s an element of dodgeball,” coach and keeper Bobby Martin said. “…After like 18 minutes of the game, there’s a side game of tag that’s very crucial to the entire game.”

Each Quidditch team has seven players on the field at a time. These include one seeker, three chasers, two beaters and one keeper.

For the first 18 minutes, the game focuses around the chasers attempting to put the quaffle — a volleyball — through the hoops, and the keeper trying to prevent the chasers from doing so. For these first 18 minutes, the game closely resembles a stereotypical sport like basketball, rugby or soccer.

After 18 minutes, things start to get a little more confusing.

“Then the snitch comes out,” Reeves said. “It is by far the most physical part of the game… [The seekers] for the most part are wrestling the snitch. They’re being thrown, pulled, yanked off their broom, put in headlocks.”

Once a seeker has managed to catch the snitch, a neutral player dressed in neon yellow, the seeker’s team earns 30 points, and the game is over.

And, of course, all throughout, the two beaters are throwing bludgers — dodgeballs — at players. When players get hit by a bludger, they must drop any ball they are holding and dismount their broomstick until they run and touch a goalpost.

However, incredibly enough, the complex rules are not what most Quidditch players consider to be what makes the game unique.

All genders play in the same league for Quidditch. In order to ensure that no team is able to gain an advantage by playing more players of the same gender, U.S. Quidditch, the governing body of the sport, established “Title 9 3/4” The regulation requires that each team has no more than four members of the same gender playing at one time.

“Quidditch is the first, if not the only, sport that is completely gender-inclusive at every level,” Rayant said.

Since Quidditch is one of few sports that is gender-inclusive, playing with and against members of other genders may take some getting used to.

“Sometimes there’s a bit of a learning curve for other players to take female players seriously,” Reeves said. “You kind of have to kick their butt until they realize you’re there to play the sport just as strong as they are.”

At the end of the day, no matter one’s gender, the players are what make Quidditch so great. Tulane Quidditch team president Todd Mathieu cites them as his favorite part of being on the team.

“Out of all the things I do, I find that the Quidditch people are the people that I have the most fun with,” Mathieu said.

To Tulane Quidditch team members, it’s the nature of the game that attracts such a diverse group of people.

“You can only take yourself so seriously when you’re playing with a broomstick between your legs,” Reeves said. “That’s one of the things that I think attracts people to the sport — that no matter how intense it ends up being, it can’t possibly take itself that seriously.”