Quidditch World Cup heads to Big Apple
Like freshmen everywhere, Xander Manshel and his Middlebury (Vt.) College classmates found themselves in their first year of college pondering some of life's biggest mysteries — like how to play Quidditch if you can't, like Harry Potter, fly?
The solution: race around in capes and goggles with broomsticks between your legs, while shooting balls through mounted hula hoops. Their version of the game, first played in 2005, was modeled on matches described in J.K. Rowling's novels.
"Quidditch was this bridge between the fantasy world of the books and the more concrete world of college," says Manshel, who has graduated and now teaches English. "For us [playing] was a way to have both."
But now Harry has grown-up — and so has the sport. There are tournaments, new rules and special brooms for competitive play.
The "Quidditch World Cup" is moving this year to the Big Apple from Middlebury's idyllic campus. More than 60 college and high school teams have registered to compete Nov. 13 and 14 — up from 20 last year — at a park in Manhattan.
"Our hope is that it will be a real coming out party for the league," says Alex Benepe, one of the sport's founders and president of the newly formed nonprofit International Quidditch Association. It's now played at hundreds of schools, he says.
Valerie Fischman, who plays Quidditch at the University of Maryland, would like to see it go much further. She's been finding out what needs to be done to get the sport NCAA status.
That, she says, could "be a stepping stone" to becoming an Olympic sport.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association says typically 40 to 50 schools need to sponsor a varsity sport for it to consider sponsoring a national championship. The most recent sport to gain such status: women's bowling.