With the Olympics kicking off today, sports are on the brain a lot. Being a geek, working in a STEM profession, and being an athlete are not mutually exclusive. The geek stereotype of being an out-of-shape recluse is just wrong and outdated. Geeks can be so very many unique things these days – no single mold could possibly hold us. But, being geeks, we do tend to pick some of the stranger and more obscure sports.
If you want some exercise and social activity with some fellow geeks, what better way to mix your favorite activities than combining the worlds of Harry Potter, hanging out with your geek friends, and some friendly competition? If you hadn’t heard, quidditch is a real and thriving sport. No, seriously.
Real life quidditch started out small, but now has its own governing body, the International Quidditch Association (IQA), and a whole rule book. You can read all about the history, rules, leagues, etc. at their website, but here’s the short version: there are over 300 teams, and it’s a co-ed contact sport. It’s a very inclusive group with admirably stated goals for things such as gender equality, youth physical fitness, and community service.
Mostly it’s popular with high school and college students, but there’s a lot of focus on outreach to kids (Kidditch, with more kid-friendly rules such as no tackling) both to help grow the sport and to foster those physical fitness and community service ideals mentioned above.
At last year’s BayCon I got to see some quidditch played live. It was fascinating introduction, and the players were wonderful ambassadors to their sport. They gave a live demo, did a Q&A session, and then invited anyone who wanted to learn to come try it out. Pretty impressive given they had to do all this crammed in half of a hotel ballroom.
Most of the takers on trying it out were kids, and the team members were all patient teachers. From what I saw, their outreach efforts were pretty successful and their core values were really being lived up to. We don’t always see folks on their best behavior at cons (and that’s a topic for another day!), so this was a refreshing event.
My daughter was a little too young to go play with the big kids, but she was fascinated just watching, as were all the other bystanders in the room. I know it will likely never take off as an olympic sport, but I sure hope that quidditch hangs around. And I really hope my daughter decides to try it out because then I can be a quidditch mom, which just sounds way cooler than soccer mom.
Also, if you didn’t make it to Sochi, there’s always the quidditch world cup in April: