Michael Phelps. Kerri Strug. Sidney Crosby. Harry Potter.
Recent history has seen many profound Olympic moments, but will we go on to see Olympic oddities? Over 600 high schools and universities in the United States alone have formed competitive quidditch teams, adapting the fictional game played by the students of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. The sport/extracurricular has progressed to the point where there is an actual Quidditch World Cup.
World teams recently held exhibition games in Oxford as the Olympic torch passed through, hoping to draw attention to the sport. Many in the International Quidditch Association hope to bring the game to the summer Olympics.
Some students believe that the sport is as physically taxing “ as rugby and just as competitive.”
“It is very physical but somehow having to run with a broom between your legs is humbling and this keeps a great sense of community in the sport,” Gillette, a student from Emerson College in Boston, told Reuters. (read full article)
But does a sport adapted from it’s fictional, more magical format have a place on the national stage?
When I think of the Olympics, I think of athletes whom train their whole lives for this one moment of greatness, where they face off against the best in the world. They are in peak physical condition and their bodies are pushed to the absolute limit, all for the sake of being the best. The best in their country. The best in the world. The Olympics are where the difference between glory and nothing is a fraction of a second, a pound, a step.
Here is Quidditch in action:
I do not deny that this likely requires some degree of athleticism, I do not see this as something to takes the type of training that is worthy of Olympic Gold. Is this a sport that would bring tears to my eyes as I looked upon Team USA on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner plays and a flag is raised to the skies, gold medals around the necks of our athletes? No. I cannot say that it would make me feel the same pride I felt when Kerri Strug stuck her landing on a broken foot or when Michael Phelps broke the medal record.
I think it is great that people are enjoying this game brought to life, but I would unfortunately rank Olympic Quidditch the same as I would Olympic Kick Ball: an insult to the athletes in the other sports who spent a lifetime preparing for the games, sacrificing a normal life for the love of sport and competition.
This to me is an extra-curricular activity. I reiterate, I think it is just great that it is bringing people together and that they are having fun, and that they have even advanced it to an international tournament. But I think that is as far as it should go until they can invent real flying broomsticks and a real flying snitch.