10 points for Minnesota! Major league quidditch is coming to Minneapolis

Two intramural quidditch teams face off.
Two intramural quidditch teams -- Squid Squad in red and Mother Bludgers in green -- face off at the University of Minnesota in September 2018.
Courtesy of Brooke Burns

Once a sport just for witches and wizards, quidditch is now being played by muggles everywhere.

Quidditch, based on the sport by the same name in the "Harry Potter" book series, started as an intramural pastime at a few high schools and colleges. Now, there are over 500 teams in 39 countries, including one at the University of Minnesota.

Luke Zak is the founder of the U's team and helped land a Major League Quidditch expansion team in Minneapolis. That team will play at the highest level of competition for the sport with 15 franchises across the U.S. and Canada.

For those who haven't heard of quidditch or Harry Potter, Zak describes it simply as: "A full contact, mixed-gender sport on brooms."

Obviously, many aspects of the sport needed to be changed to work in the real world.

There are still brooms, in a sense. They act to level the playing field, much like dribbling in basketball, Zak said. But competitors no longer use real brooms in standard play. The wood and bristles scratched up players' legs and picking up the straw after each match became tedious, Zak said. Now the standard is shorter poles with no bristles.

"So, you're running down the field, broom between your legs, trying to get the quaffle through the hoops and not get hit by the bludgers," he said.

The quaffle is a volleyball, used to score points, and bludgers are dodgeballs, used for pelting opposing players.

A person takes the place of the last ball in the game, the golden snitch.

This player isn't on either team and, just like in the books, must avoid being caught by the seekers.

Today — more than seven years since the final Harry Potter film was released and over a decade since the final novel — the sport of quidditch is at something of a crossroads.

"Over a couple years there started to be this debate in the community over whimsy versus competition, what's more important," Zak said.

But in 2015, Major League Quidditch launched the sport in a competitive direction. Now people who have never read the books are joining in the fun, Zak said, even traveling to other countries for the World Cup.

The Minneapolis team will hold open tryouts in April.

Correction (Jan. 1, 2019): An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported how Minnesota's team is being created. It also incorrectly reported the year Major League Quiddich formed.