If you’re at a loose end this weekend and find yourself in the New York City area this weekend, I have just the thing to kill a few hours: The Quidditch World Cup. No, not the one from the fictional Harry Potter universe – That happened earlier this year, in Belgium, and the United States won for the third time running, apparently (I love that fan fic writers are thinking about this stuff) – but the real world equivalent that’s taking place at De Witt Clinton Park this weekend.
Real life Quidditch – also known as “Muggle Quidditch” or “Ground Quidditch,” depending on your level of Harry Potter fandom – was created in 2005 by Alexander Manshel, a student at Middlebury College in Vermont, who adapted the rules from what JK Rowling established in her novels into something a little more down to earth. Two years later, Alex Benepe formed the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association after Middlebury students faced off against their counterparts at Vassar, and since then, teams from more than 45 countries have joined the association, which has since changed its name to the International Quidditch Association. (More on Time.com: Top 10 Nerdy Competitions)
The rules of the real life version of the game follow Rowling’s vision surprisingly carefully. Each team has seven players – Three chasers, two beaters, a seeker and a keeper – who run around the elliptical field instead of flying, trying to avoid being hit by bludgers (In the novels, magical balls with lives of their own, in real life, dodgeballs thrown by the beaters on each team) and score by shooting quaffles (Again, real life substitutes volleyballs for magical ones) through one of three hoops on either end of the field. The most amusing part of the translation is what happens to the Snitch; in the books, a Snitch is, again, a magical object with a life of its own that, if caught by a seeker, instantly wins the game. In real life, the Snitch is a person with a sock hanging out their back pocket who runs across the field trying not to be caught by the seekers. Oh, and each player has a broom that they have to keep between their legs as they play. (More on Time.com: Photos: Inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)
This weekend’s tournament, taking place on Saturday and Sunday, will be the fourth annual World Cup for the game, and includes teams from Harvard, Yale and MIT, amongst the 46 teams registered (A list of teams can be found on the official site). The games begin at 10am on Saturday, following the 9am Opening Processional. Brooms are optional, although owls will be available at the event.
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