Last weekend, I had the pleasure of competing in the Fifth Annual Quidditch World Cup. Hosted by the International Quidditch Association at Randall’s Island, New York, the Quidditch World Cup was a weekend of competition, fandom, and camaraderie.
The Quidditch World Cup is first and foremost a sports tournament. But quidditch is not your average sport, of course. With its roots in the Harry Potter novels, quidditch has always involved elements of the fandom. Present at the World Cup were representatives and performers from a variety of areas of the Potter fandom, ranging from wizard rock (including founding fathers Harry and the Potters), Mugglenet.com, and the Harry Potter Alliance. Team StarKid, creators of A Very Potter Musical, even sent Joe Moses to perform a live version of Potions Master’s Corner.
But the funny thing about being involved in quidditch is how easily you forget its roots. Ask the players, and we, for the most part, want it to be taken as a legitimate sport, not an offshoot of the Potter fandom. In fact, had it not been for the spectators dressed up as their favorite characters and the wizard rock music blasting from the main stage, I would have forgotten that this sport had anything to do with Harry Potter. Instead, the sport had become real.
That is part of the power of the story of Harry Potter. For many people of my generation, Harry Potter has been a constant in our lives since elementary school. It has taken on meaning and has become part of our reality. And, funnily enough, even the sight of people running around fields with brooms between their legs doesn’t seem bizarre anymore.
Only something with as broad an appeal as Harry Potter could have brought together such a diverse group of people. There is no average Harry Potter fan. Likewise, there is no average quidditch player. They can be hardcore Harry Potter fans, first-rate athletes, or a mix of both. In fact, some players have not read the books. Other players can spout off nerdy references to the books in one minute and tackle each other the next. It is a truly unique experience when you bring 2,000 of these people together.
The camaraderie among these players was one of the main aspects that made the Quidditch World Cup so enjoyable. This was the first year that teams from the Western Region had made the trip to the Cup. As a member of the West, I believe that our teams had the best experience at the Cup. Coming into the tournament as wildcards – with players from the east fully expecting beat us handily – we exceeded everyone’s expectations, with each of the six western teams advancing to the bracket rounds. We as a group banded together to support each team from the region. We had a group pump-up meeting before the bracket rounds began. We cheered each other on when weren’t playing. And when the brackets put some of us head-to-head, we had group hugs beforehand and mutual exchanges of respect afterward.
Though my experience at the World Cup was marred by some cases of poor refereeing and unfortunate bracket match-ups, nothing could take away from the feeling of solidarity I felt among the players. When you remember that the whole Quidditch World Cup was borne out of the Harry Potter books, it truly is a demonstration of the power of that a good story can have.