While they may not have the coveted Firebolt broom or the ability to zoom around to catch the elusive golden snitch, muggle (ordinary human) Quidditch players are not complaining. The game, concocted by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter series, has taken US colleges by storm since 2005, and now seems to be spreading to schools.
Muggle Quidditch was started by two Middlebury College English majors, Alex Benepe and Xander Manshel in the fall of 2005. Since flying on brooms wasn't feasible, the two decided that the players, all wearing wizard capes, should run across the field with the brooms held between their thighs. In lieu of the flying golden snitch, the seeker chases after a snitch who could be a cross-country runner with a tennis ball stuffed inside a long sock, tied to his/her shorts, or simply a remote-controlled helicopter, carrying a tennis ball. As in the real version, if the seeker catches the snitch, his team gets 150 points and wins the game. If you think that is hilarious, there is more.
While the seeker and snitch are playing their chasing game, the other six team members from each side are trying to earn points too. Three 'beaters,' throw bludgers (red rubber balls) at opponents, while 'chasers,' try to throw a 'quaffle,' (soccer balls), across three hoops, with members of the other team trying to stop them from going through.
To keep all the rather confusing rules in check, Alex, who calls himself the Intercollegiate Quidditch Commissioner, has written a 39-page rule book, which also provides tips on how to start a Quidditch league.
Today, about 78 campuses all over the US have at least one Quidditch team - Middlebury itself has twelve and a lot of students here sheepishly admit to being attracted to the school because of it. Alex is hoping that it will continue to spread and is even planning a World Cup next year, where he hopes to invite the maestro who started it all - Ms. J.K. Rowling.
While muggle Quidditch hasn't become as popular in schools yet, if Ferndale Comprehensive School (the first school in Wales to introduce it), is any indication, it may soon be coming to a school near you!