Thursday, April 5, 2012

Muggle Quidditch

In 2005, a student at Middlebury College in Vermont named Xander Manshel decided to collaborate with some of his friends to create "Muggle Quidditch" ("muggle" being a term for describing a nonmagical individual), a game based on the fantastical sport made famous by J.K. Rowling's best selling Harry Potter series. In seven short years, the game has expanded far beyond Middlebury's small New England campus and is now governed by the International Quidditch Association, a registered nonprofit organization that oversees the sport in 45 states and 13 different countries including several different Quidditch teams on our very own Lake Shore Campus.

The International Quidditch Association Logo
Why create Quidditch as a real-world sport and continue to promote it?
Acoording to its website, the three goals of IQA's mission are rooted in the three essential elements that were necessary for Manshel and his friends to create real-life Quidditch and promote it into being a national phenomenon: creativity, community, and competition.

1) The International Quidditch Association attempts "to foster a culture of creativity."

Muggle Quidditch founder Xander Manshel’s first steps toward creating real-life Quidditch required a creative solution to a very difficult problem – How do you recreate a magical game without having actual magical skills? The IQA suggests that "Quidditch was founded in the spirit of experimenting with new ideas and daring to promote, and participate in, a different activity.  We [as human beings] are born into an entirely pre-fabricated world, and developing and sharing a new idea with others is important to show people that new ideas can exist, that they can be created by young people, and that they can take root and grow in meaningful ways."

Furthermore, Quidditch's roots lie in literacy, and the IQA hopes to help further the idea that many creative endeavors are rooted in reading as they believe books "have the power to change the world and unite and forge new communities and traditions." For this reason, the IQA and its teams continue to take strategic steps towards promoting literacy.

2) The IQA tries to create, connect, and enhance the communities that the game is played in to promote a spirit of cooperation and collaboration

When Manshel had to debut his new creation in public, he had to "leverage, engage, and activate his friends and peers, essentially his community" if the game was to survive and grow. In this same vein, he IQA continues to expand on Xander’s original ideas by serving and engaging both the players and fans of the game as well as the communities the teams play in.

3) The IQA also works to facilitate healthy competition across the United States.

The founders of Quidditch believed that ultimately competition was what would keep people coming back for more and help the sport to grow. For this reason, the IQA continues to work "to provide, facilitate, stimulate, and promote as many opportunities for competitive Quidditch as possible."

Muggle Quidditch Founder and IQA Advisory Board Member Xander Manshel

But how does the game of Muggle Quidditch really work?

A Muggle Quidditch team consists of seven players. In the Harry Potter books, Wizarding Quidditch is grounded in magic, so Middlebury students were tasked with adapting the game to be played on the ground in a space comparable in size to a hockey rink. In Muggle Quidditch, three circular goals often made from hula hips and PVC pipe are placed on either side of the "pitch." All players actively engaged in play are required to carry a broom between their legs at all times. Volleyballs and dodgeballs often serve as substitutes to the Rowling-created "quaffles" and "bludgers". In the books, the Snitch is a small magical flying object, but in Muggle Quidditch the Snitch is simply a tennis ball contained in a sock tucked in the waistband of the "snitch runner", a neutral player affiliated with neither team dressed in all gold or yellow. After the game has begun, the snitch runner roams an area beyond the playing field with the snitch until he or she is "caught" to end the game. When played on a university campus, the snitch often is allowed to roam the entire campus. "Seekers" search for the runner around campus, and if they fail to catch him in a timely manner, the snitch will return to the field after a specified time. The game begins with the quaffle and bludgers placed in the center of the field and all players in line with their respective goalposts. After the snitch has been "released" and is out of sight, the referee yells 'brooms up!' and game play begins.

A Profile of Loyola University Chicago's Quidditch Program

How is Quidditch really creative?

Quidditch was created by a student being creatively inspired by a fantastical sport in a widely-popular literary series. It can be argued that Xander Manshel did not actually create "Quidditch" (as J.K. Rowling created the original concept), but there can be no doubt that Manshel brought the sport into reality to be enjoyed across the world. He did not do this to solve any real problem (though he did encounter many in establishing the rules, etc.), but rather he did it to bring a little joy into the lives of many people and make the world a better and more interesting place for all to live. We have talked many times in class about how important "play" can be for humanity and for creativity. It makes us healthier and stimulates our minds. Quidditch is an excellent medium to engage in to come to these results. Furthermore, while Quidditch was the brainchild of one individual, it took many people around the world to collaborate together to enhance and promote the sport. Quidditch's popularity cannot be attributed to Menshel alone, despite the fact that no one can deny that he is the "creative" behind it. The game was created in a "spirit of creativity", and the sport and its governing body continue to try to spread this spirit around the world.


  1. I'm glad someone finally brought this up! It's totally awesome that the game was brought into a real life legitimate sport from a children's book series. I think it's really creative because it also gets people involved in sports who might not normally get involved, but will partake because of the books and their influence on them. The creativity it takes to figure out the logistics of making a fantasy sport real seems a bit intimidating, but Xander made it work. He took something he enjoyed in the books and brought it to life.

  2. I agree with the commenter above that this was an ingenious idea. Growing up in the Harry Potter culture, I love the idea of trying to bring the magic of this mythical wizarding world into our daily lives. Though Quidditch is J.K. Rowling's idea, Xander was still creative in that he modified the magical sport to make it workable in real life. The remarkable thing is that the game, despite no brooms or spells, is still thrilling and reminiscent of the magical world many in our generation have grown to love.
    Like many of the creatives we've studied, Xander seems to be very passionate about his "domain," or else he would never have taken the time to adapt Quidditch. I think it is inspiring that he, and the association, seem to be motivated by spreading joy to others and that they're encouraging others to be creative.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.