“Harry was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw him clap his hand to his mouth as though he was going to be sick- he hit the field on all fours-coughed-and something gold fell into his hand.

 ‘I’ve got the snitch!’ he shouted, waving it above his head, and the game ended in complete confusion.”

    J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” exposed the world to the game of quidditch for the first time, and ever since, the hype surrounding this flying sport has been growing. Colleges and high schools from around the country have quidditch teams of their own. In fact, this year marks the 5th annual Quidditch World Cup.

From all ends of the country, teams have been flocking to Randall’s Island, NYC for the world cup. Official International Quidditch Association Texas teams at the World Cup include University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, Texas Christian University and Sam Houston State University. Out of all of the official IQA teams, Texas A&M currently ranks 4th in the nation.

Unlike the wizards and witches of “Harry Potter,” these teams come ready for a sport consisting not of flying but of endurance and teamwork. This type of quidditch involves teams facing off on brooms, not in the air but on foot. There are hoops for goals and various sporting balls used as the quaffle and bludgers. Finally, the snitch is no longer a tiny, flying golden ball, but instead a neutral player covered from head to toe in bright gold.

As part of the game, the snitch’s job is to keep from getting caught, nothing is off limits, including climbing trees or hopping onto a bicycle and riding across town. This is part of what makes the game so interesting, because it’s only when the snitch is caught that the game ends. As most snitches do not take such extreme measures, games usually last about 15 to 20 minutes.

University of Texas at San Antonio and a German and Arabic major, Andrew Bryant plays as chaser and keeper for UT’s varsity quidditch team and competed in this year’s World Cup. Bryant goes on to describe the intensity of the game: “Most games start out, and everyone’s pretty anxious- I know I am,” Bryant said. “Then for the next 20 minutes, you’re basically running around feeling a lot of adrenaline, constantly passing balls to your teammates and hopefully making it down to the other end to score. You kind of forget how long you’ve been playing. When the game’s over, it usually feels like it’s only been three minutes.”

Bryant explained a bit more about what it’s like to run with a broom:

“It was weird at the beginning and then when we first started the team we would take a lap around the track with our brooms before every practice. It was weird at first to run at a normal speed. I’m remember having it was really difficult to run as I normally do with the broom, but after a year- I mean I’m not sure when it actually became easy, but now it’s not a problem at all.”

Bryant made it clear that quidditch is not simply a hobby, but a sport, “The whole team is really psyched about playing it all of the time. So, none of us really take it lightly,” Bryant said. “We get annoyed when people don’t consider it to be the sport we see it as.”

The sport brings a variety of athletes and Harry Potter enthusiasts a like, making quidditch the only sport with such a variety of players.

Games often get rough, sometimes involving concussions and broken collarbones, but don’t let that deter you from the game. “There’s a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of physical contact. You’re usually getting roughed around and you bump into people a lot,” Bryant said.

Bryant described how inconsistent refereeing could be for quidditch games. Often, students will stand in as the referee for other teams at tournaments. Nearly anyone can stand in as a ref if they know all of the rules in the IQA handbook. This is but one of the many issues that quidditch faces in its attempts to achieve legitimacy.

Because the World Cup is organized by the IQA Bryant is optimistic about there being professionally trained refs.

“Everything will flow a lot better, the games will seem more fair, and I think that the excitements going to be a lot higher than what we’ve seen at other tournaments, because there’s going to be a hundred teams there from all over the country.”

Bryant also expressed looking forward to standardized brooms at the World Cup.

“At IQA sponsored tournaments, all brooms are supposed to be the same type, the same length, same weight,” Bryant said. “So, at the world cup, the IQA is going to be providing the same set of brooms for every game, for every team throughout the weekend.”

The World Cup was this previous weekend, Nov. 12-13. For scores and analysis of the games refer to the International Quidditch Association’s website.

As a hundred teams flock from all over the country, full of team spirit and school pride, it can be asked why UTSA isn’t making its own mark on the tournament. In a growing school with a new football team, the only thing left to conquer is quidditch.

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