Quidditch, the sport of boarding school wizards riding broomsticks in “Harry Potter,” will become “Quadball” for humans who play the game in real life, its major organizations announced on Tuesday.
The groups cited financial obstacles imposed by Warner Bros., the producer of the film series, owning the Quidditch brand, as well as a wish to “distance themselves” from JK Rowling, the author of the books, and that that they called him “anti-trans positions”, referring to his controversial statements on gender identity made in recent years.
“It’s a bold move, and for me personally there’s definitely some nostalgia for the original name,” Alex Benepe, who helped found the real sport in 2005, said in a statement. “But from a long-term development perspective, I’m convinced it’s a smart move for the future that will allow the sport to grow without limits.”
The road to the decision began in December, when US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch – the youth and professional wings of the sport – announced their intention to choose and file a new name. Their statement emphasized “sponsorship and broadcast opportunities” that were missed due to licensing issues.
In a 2017 interview with The Quidditch Post, a sports news site, Benepe praised Warner Bros. for being “remarkably permissive” in allowing a league to operate and sell tickets under the name.
He added, however, that Warner Bros. had banned the sale of merchandise using the word “Quidditch” and that the sport had been forced to sacrifice important business opportunities. Mr Benepe argued at the time – before the latest political controversy with Ms Rowling – for a name change.
“I love Harry Potter and always will, but if our sport needs Harry Potter to survive he must not be so great – and I think that’s great and I think our players too” , did he declare.
Nonetheless, on Tuesday the International Quidditch Association, the sport’s highest governing body, cited Ms Rowling’s “anti-trans stances” as the main reason for changing the sport’s name.
“We’ve tried to be clear that those are the two reasons,” Jack McGovern, a spokesman for USA Quidditch and Major League Quidditch, said in an interview. “We did not intend to make a value judgment on which reason was more important than the other.”
Quidditch matches frequently appeared as scenes in the Harry Potter books and films. The real-life version of it includes many elements from Mrs. Rowling’s game imagination: driving broomsticks, throwing balls through hoops, and having to evade bludgers and eventually catch the Golden Snitch. In real life, a bludger is a rubber dodgeball, rather than a flying iron ball, and the snitch is a tennis ball attached to a person, as in flag football.
Thousands of people play the game in more than 40 countries, according to the International Quidditch Association.
After her comments on transgender issues on Twitter gained widespread attention, Ms Rowling published an essay in 2020 which raised concerns about “pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender” and increasing gender transition among young people.
Many transgender rights advocates called Ms Rowling’s comments transphobic, and some fans struggled to reconcile their love of ‘Harry Potter’ with their objections to her views. Rowling’s representatives at the Blair Partnership said there would be no comment on the decision, but said the various Quidditch leagues were never endorsed or authorized by her.
“Quadball”, according to the International Quidditch Association, refers to the number of positions in the sport (a keeper, a hunter, a beater and a seeker) and the number of balls (two bludgers, a quaffle and the snitch). gold).
Mr McGovern said Quidditch’s association with Ms Rowling had become an obstacle to recruiting new players, and he said he was unsure how much the sport’s official bodies would refer to ‘Harry Potter’ at the future.
His first exposure to real Quidditch, he said, came in 2010 while he was in college. He persuaded one of his relatives to drive him from Philadelphia to New York to see a Quidditch World Cup. He said he was struck by the “energy, life and forward momentum” of the game, and was a “fan of dark sports more generally”.
Almost afterward, he added, “I had read ‘Harry Potter’ at the time.” When asked to what extent his love of books motivated his early interest in the sport, Mr. McGovern replied: “It’s hard. I don’t want to say more now.