I was sitting on the main quad at college last fall when I saw people playing quidditch.organised quidditch. Real, human quidditch. With rings and dodgeballs and a guy in a yellow shirt pretending to be the snitch.
This is how strong of the pull of the Harry Potter universe has become for 20-somethings.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, every generation has its irrational obsessions. And quidditch is ours.
But here’s my problem with the Potterphiles and their mugglized game: Quidditch is perhaps the most flawed, poorly constructed sport ever created.
There are bludger-sized holes in the framework of the game that make it uninteresting, static, and altogether awful.
Here’s a little primer on the sport for the unacquainted:
- It’s 7-on-7, brooms required
- You get 10 points for throwing a quaffle (a ball) through an upright ring
- You get 150 points for catching the snitch (a gold thingy that flies around)
- The game can only end if one of the two designated seeker catches the snitch
There’s a whole bunch of other nerddom, but that’s the basic skeleton of the game.
You don’t have to be pure-blood to figure out the problem with this sport: the snitch is too damn important.
Catching the snitch in quidditch is more meaningful than any single activity in any other sport. More than starting pitching in baseball, quarterback play in football, team defence in basketball, and whatever it is that helps you win at hockey.
Catching the snitch is quidditch.
The notion that a team could amass a 150-point lead before the snitch is caught is out of the realm of possibility.
Harry typically hunts the thing down in 10 movie-minutes tops, and there’s no evidence that the anonymous ring-based players have the offensive explosiveness to even approach 150 points.
The quaffle/rings/other stuff truly serves no purpose. It’s like if basketball hid a hacky sack in the arena and said whichever team finds it first gets 75 points and the game ends. The “game” of basketball as we know it would suddenly become pointless.
Quidditch is not a team sport, it’s an individual sport masquerading as a team sport. The only player that matters is the seeker (Harry Potter, surprise, surprise), and the other six players are locked in a Sisyphusian back-and-forth that has zero effect on the outcome of the game.
At the end of the day, seekers like Harry get the adoration of their fellow pubescent witches and wizards while the other players don’t get squat. Because these players never mattered, and they probably would have never signed up for the team in the first place if they knew they’d be flying around like an idiots for no reason.
The best sports contain an endless series of possibilities. Quidditch only contains two: Team A gets the snitch and wins, or Team B gets the snitch and wins.
It’s absurdly dull. If two eight-year-old wizards made that game up in their backyard, they’d get bored of it after about 15 minutes.
Apparently this is lost on the students of Hogwarts — who are too wrapped up in school’s experiential learning techniques to notice that the game they love rests on the brooms of just two players.
And it’s lost on Potterphiles — who are too connected to their 13-year-old selves to call a dumb game a dumb game.
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