Quiddich is the official sport of Harry Potter’s magical world — but dear God, is it flawed.
If you look at the title and say “What in the hell is ‘quidditch’?”… this list might just be too esoteric for you.
Now, to those of you who noticed the biggest book and movie franchise of the past 15 years… yeah, I don’t think quidditch is that great of a sport. And that’s not because I’m an American, so I’d naturally hate a sport that was inspired by soccer and took key elements from team handball, cricket, and (probably) crumpet-eating contests.
No. It’s because I spent a few minutes to actually thinking about the game and realized: It’s not very good.
Here are the 11 reasons why I think, if I were a wizard, I’d skip out on going to quidditch matches and instead devote all of my time to learning spells for invisibility and unlocking women’s locker room doors.
1 | People seem to constantly, and egregiously, break the rules
I did a little research into the world of quidditch for this list and, yes, J.K. Rowling wrote an entire rulebook (which exists independent of the seven Potter books). It’s got a lot of rules. All of which seem to constantly get broken.
And this isn’t to say that every real sport has players who abide by the rules. Basketball players, even ones not named Dwight Howard, throw elbows. Football players poke eyes and pretend they caught balls that hit the ground. Baseball players take crazy drugs (or drink nerve tonics) that make them powerful with gigantic heads.
But they all get caught more often than not. In the quidditch games in the Harry Potter books, no one ever really gets caught breaking the rules. Check out the rules section of the Wikipedia entry on quidditch. It’s almost comical; after almost every rule listed there’s an example of someone breaking it during the mere handful of games actually spelled out over the series.
Without rules, it’s not quidditch, it’s flying anarchy. The sport would drive Walter Sobchak to a heart attack.
2 | It’s unnecessarily dangerous
Today’s sports are finally realizing that concussions aren’t something you can just rub a little dirt on. So I’m not sure we all have the bloodlust to watch a bunch of players flying around at insane altitudes, dodging two heavy bludgers that are specifically bewitched to knock them hundreds of feet to the ground.
And I’m not the only one. Roger Goodell would never stand for that.
3 | Nonstandard brooms unfairly weight the matches
I never got why the players had to supply their own brooms. This, essentially, turns quidditch into a game of “Who’s richer?” If you have more money, you buy a better broom, and you’re instantly better than the competition. Harry went from never having heard of quidditch to the best seeker of the decade at Hogwarts primarily thanks to having the wealth to get the best possible broom.
This just doesn’t translate to other sports. Like a weightlifting competition where people could only lift the weight they could afford to buy and transport. Or a hockey game where some people were using hockey sticks and others were using rulers taped onto tree branches.
Most sports strive to remove variables, to make the competition as much about the players’ talents as possible. Quidditch goes the other direction, and brings a players’ money into the equation. How gauche.
4 | It’s way too hard to follow the action
There’s a lot going on during quidditch. Six players trying to score, four players swatting heavy balls, two goalies, and two guys racing to find an imperceptible gold ball. (Think following the puck in hockey is tough? Try following the snitch.)
Meanwhile they’re all at different altitudes, obscured by clouds, and on a 166-yard-long field.
“Three-ring circus” doesn’t even begin to describe that level of complexity. It’s more like “trying to be the statistician at a orgy.”
5 | It’s far too complex for pickup games
People say that basketball has surpassed baseball in poorer areas because it’s less intensive — you can play it with any number of people the only equipment you need is a ball and a rim. (The same goes for soccer, by the way.)
The same cannot be said for quidditch. You think a dozen wizard kids can find a proper field, enchant their own balls and all provide their own brooms? Not a chance. And without sports, they’ll clearly turn straight to drugs. Magical drugs. (Which are just like regular drugs, except I’d assume their names are comprised of more q’s and z’s.)
6 | The beaters have incredibly boring jobs
In sports like soccer and hockey, at least the defensive players contribute to the action. In quidditch, the two beaters sit there, all game long, swatting at heavy balls with their bats. They don’t score. They don’t really even defend the goal. They just swat at heavy balls. What an unglamorous position. They make football offensive linemen look like Sophia Loren.
7 | Wins and losses don’t really matter
At the end of a quidditch season, the big winner isn’t based on wins and losses, it’s based on the team’s total points scored. So, in theory, a team that has zero wins but put up 200 points a game could win it all. (This is actually a sports principle called the “Phoenix Suns Axiom.”)
But I find it absurd that the goal isn’t to win the games. Herm Edwards would never agree to be a quidditch coach.
8 | They actually have the equivalent of soccer’s “offsides” rule
According to Rowling’s official rules, only one chaser can be in a scoring circle — if others from his team also go in the circle, they’re offsides.
Look. If there’s one thing Americans hate, it’s the offsides rule. We forget all about it, then remember it every four years during the World Cup. We don’t fully understand it (partially because the refs do a horrible job properly enforcing it) — all we know is that it takes goals off the board in a game that rarely ever has goals go up on the board. And if we don’t like it in our European sports, we’re not going to like it in our magical sports.
9 | You can’t relax at the games because you’ve always got to worry about dementors showing up
It’s arguably more frightening and more damaging to the soul than attending an Oakland Raiders game.
10 | The games can last indefinitely but no substitutions are allowed
According to the rules, the games go forever until someone catches the snitch. Also, no substitutions are allowed. This could be exciting for a little while… until you’re 12, 24, 72, etc. hours in, everyone’s exhausted, and they’re all just sitting there on brooms trying to get some energy back. Ever seen a boxing match where the boxers are both punched out so they basically just hug each other for three minutes? Imagine if that boxing hug went on for three weeks.
11 | The snitch is worth far too many points
Each time the chasers score the quaffle (oh, how my life has gone that I just wrote that phrase) they get 10 points. Meanwhile, if either of the seekers catches the snitch, it’s worth 150 points and ends the game.
So unless there’s an extremely high scoring match, catching the snitch more or less invalidates all of the previous action.
That’s just an absurd scoring system. It’s like the old 50 point basket from MTV Rock-N-Jock basketball games. Sports don’t need dei ex machina. (Even if the people creating those sports just insert them by force of habit.)