Quidditch is the fastest growing club sport at Mason. The team is young, just two years old, and they are preparing to compete at their second national competition this spring. About 50 students showed up at the interest meeting at the start of the fall semester, and the team has continued to recruit throughout the year. If you have ever seen a Harry Potter movie or read the books, you probably have an idea of what it looks like—without the flying, of course.
“Whenever people hear the word ‘quidditch,’ they might think it is just a bunch of kids running around on brooms with capes,” says theater major Arielle Flax, who is recruitment chair for Mason Quidditch . “The challenge is making them see what kind of sport quidditch really is.”
So what is quidditch? According to U.S. Quidditch, the national governing body for the sport, it is a co-ed contact sport that combines elements from rugby, dodgeball, and tag. A quidditch team has a roster of 21 players. In a game, each team tries to score on one of their opponents’ three hoops while dodging bludgers [dodgeballs] and running with brooms between their legs.
Brooms? For real? “For real,” according to applied computer science major Nathan Archer, one of the founders of the club. For the national competition, they must play with brooms purchased from a special source. At other times, they play with sticks made with PVC pipe. The players aren’t crazy about the brooms because they can be dangerous.
“When a broom breaks, it basically turns into a spear,” says Archer. “They did away with the capes years ago because they were a choking hazard.”
Then there are the broom burns, which can be pretty bad, as the broom’s straw repeatedly scrapes naked skin throughout the games. Ouch.
“It is a full contact sport with tackling,” says Archer.
“We’ve had people join the team because they thought it would be easy, and they ended up working their butts off,” says Flax.
As I am watching their practice, there is a collision—and blood. A Mason trainer appears out of nowhere with a first-aid kit and packs the player’s nose. The player has to sit out for the next few plays.
Many universities have teams. There are more than 200 teams in the United States alone. In 2015, University of Virginia, University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University were among the Virginia teams that competed at the national championship with Mason.