Emerson College

Posted by Ellen


This past weekend, when 46 college quidditch teams from around the country gathered in New York City for the fourth annual International Quidditch World Cup, Portland's own Ben Nadeau, was right there on the pitch, representing Emerson College. Emerson placed second last year, falling to Middlebury in the finals, and hoped to go all the way this year.

College quidditch, much like the Harry Potter version, is a complicated game, played with broomsticks, of course, and also with multiple balls, hula hoops mounted vertically at the ends of an elliptical pitch, beaters, seekers, chasers, and a keeper and a snitch. The style of play has been compared to rugby, basketball, soccer, and dodgeball.

The game was devised about five years ago by Middlebury College students in Vermont, and Middlebury won the first three World Cups. But Emerson College, which practices and competes in quidditch on the Boston Common, has taken the sport especially seriously in recent years. Emerson students wrote the official quidditch rulebook (there are 700 rules) and field both intramural and varsity teams.

On Saturday, the first day of World Cup competition, Emerson sailed through pool play, beating some teams by more than 100 points. The NYU Hipster Hyperions fell to Emerson, 150-10. But Sunday afternoon in the quarter-finals, Tufts ended Emerson's season, 60-50. Tufts went on to lose to Middlebury in the finals.

Quidditch is a fast-growing activity--part sport, part tongue-in-cheek frolic, part recreation of childhood joy in the world of Harry Potter. Today's college students grew up with the Harry Potter books and movies. Will the game maintain its popularity with future generations of students, for whom Harry Potter is just part of the background of growing up, nothing new and exciting about it?

The young children who gather round the hoops at quidditch events, grabbing brooms and balls whenever there's a pause in the action to try learning the game themselves, all look eager to grow up and get their crack at playing real muggle quidditch someday. Maybe they will.