JK Rowling clearly wasn’t into her sports. A master writer of children’s fantasy fiction she may be – but as for sports… not so much. Quidditch is overrated, and here’s why.
Quidditch?! I hear you say. That cool, exciting, brutal fictional sport where wizards fly around on broomsticks, smashing into each other? That same one where Harry Potter almost died chasing down that golden ball with a mind of its own? That one?
Yes, that very sport. It may look cool, but Quidditch is not all its chalked to be – its flawed and doesn’t stand up to inspection.
Just here me out.
So this is it – in Quidditch, one of the fundamental rules is that, if you catch the snitch, it ends the entire game in an instant. And this makes sense does it?
Imagine this: almost an entire game has been played out between the mighty Gryffindor and the plucky Hufflepuff. There’s so much that has went into the game individually and collectively – titanic battles all over the pitch… Gryffindor goes up… then Hufflepuff pulls it back… Which way is it going to go? You’re on the edge of your seat and you can’t take your eyes off it.
Then, right at the death, some little glory-hunter can cancel out the whole thing just by catching a golden ball? What a joke… It really makes you question the integrity in sport these days.
I like to imagine how these elements would translate into other, real-life sports. Take football (or SOCCER) for instance. So – there you are, playing a nice, normal game of football. The ball is being passed about, left, right, left, right, you’re trying to make something happen… It’s a close contest – a game of chess; whenever you probe, a member of the opposition is there to counter. Tactically, technically, and physically, both teams are pushing themselves to the limit.
And while all of this is going on, there are two little space cadets running around the pitch in every direction, chasing after a shiny ball? What on earth are they doing there? Get out the way!
How about another situation. Sticking with football, Picture this: It’s very late in the game, and both teams have been slogging it out for ninety minutes. The scoreboard says 1-1, it’s a draw, and it looks like it is heading for a share of the spoils…
But wait. Oh, could it be? “Yes! It’s a goal! The striker has made it 2-1 with a magnificent bicycle kick in injury time! That is out of this world! I have never seen anything like it. Surely, that strike has all but secured it for the home side!”
The drama. What a rush.
Oh, no… wait! The away side’s seeker has got his scrawny hands on the golden snitch. Forget about everything that has happened up until this point; victory goes to the away side. It was all an enormous waste of time.
I’m guessing that the snitch doesn’t get caught as much as the MVP wunderkind Harry Potter manages to, but still: if I was one of those hoop throwers, I would be a bit p’eed off if I had player a blinder, scoring five in one game and it all counted for diddy.
After a quick google search, it appears that there IS evidence in the Goblet of Fire which shows that it isn’t ALL about the snitch every time. The snitch is worth 150 points, so, at the Quidditch world cup, even though one team caught the snitch, they still lost the game because the winning side racked up enough quaffle conversions to cancel out the points bonus.
From the way it is described though, this sounds uncommon.
Even if that situation was to transpire something like 50% of the time, it still renders the rest of the game largely meaningless. The bottom line is that the Snitch MUST be caught to finish the game, so this is ultimately where the game is won and lost. You could have a team of amateurs, but as long as your seeker is Harry Potter (or that Victor guy) then you have a winning formula. If this element of quidditch was used in American football, it would be like Tom Brady picking people in the crowd at random, and then going on to win the championship with a team of nobody’s.
*Info and sources from the previous paragraph from this article on the best fictional sports here: (it’s a cool article, give it a read).*
And what if the snitch was caught within seconds of the game starting off? I think as a paying fan, I would be a tad frustrated if the game ended in such a quick manner, and I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. The same goes for the other side – if it takes ages, and nobody catches the snitch, then how does it finish? Surely it can go on for days, weeks, months even. Do fans just keep coming back? You could have someone that can make the Saturday game, but he has a thing on the Sunday – what if the best of the game plays out on the day he can’t make it? You would be fuming.
And what about the tickets? Does your ticket cover multiple match days? That’s without even dipping your toes into the inevitable financial and logistical nightmare that would arise from a situation like this. The more you think about it, the more it ties itself in knots. It really hasn’t been thought through.
In the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Draco spend a good amount of time hunting down the snitch underneath the stadium, out of sight of the fans. I know you have some sports where its difficult to see what’s going on in real time– but that is really out of hand. It’s bad enough for the spectator, but how are these moments officiated when there are no real boundaries?
In Prisoner of Azkahban, Harry Potter finds himself WAY up high in the sky hunting down the snitch as it goes off galivanting – again, how are the referees keeping track of all of this, and how are the spectators watching it all? Where is the return on investment for the average fan?
Also, how does one practice becoming a seeker? It’s the most important part of the game, but how do you train for it? I have spent many hours with a football, practicing in the back garden over the years – but in Quidditch what is the equivalent? I can’t imagine it is practical to get your hands on a golden snitch. They look expensive. And then, what if you can’t catch it? The snitch has a mind of its own, what if it fancies stopping off at Greggs for a pasty, and they don’t let you behind the counter to go and get it? Do you just have to keep buying new snitches to replace the ones you’ve lost? The list goes on and on.
If I was a wizard, I would be protesting the idea of having a snitch and a seeker altogether. ‘Reform Quidditch!’ ‘No More Seekers!’ ‘Make Quidditch Great Again!’ – you know, that sort of thing.
I mean, in Harry Potter’s very first quidditch game, he spends half the match just spectating, passively getting angry at the underhand stuff coming from Slytherin – he doesn’t do a thing! He might as well have sat down, got himself a pie and a Bovril, and watched on like the rest of the supporters.
I think if it is to have any chance as a sport, then the snitch and sneeker element should be taken out completely. Then you have a game. Sorry Harry.
MAGIC IN REAL-LIFE SPORT
As for the reverse of this, if we are thinking about bringing magical elements into real world sports, I do like the idea of crowd interference. In sport, fans try their best to help their team win – whether it be cheering their players on in support, or booing and intimidating the opposition.
Putting the other team off is one thing, but with magic involved, it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. In a rugby match, a player could be yards away from making a try – he’s left his marker, it’s an open square of space, he’s about to pull the trigger… he takes a couple more steps and… wait! His pants have just fell down to his ankles! He’s tripped over! What happened there? He had a free try, and he’s missed it!
In real life, it is not unheard of for unruly fans to sneak in a laser pen and shine it into a player’s eyes to put them off whatever they are doing. But magical interference would take fan intervention to a whole new level. You would have to be sneaky about it, but you could get up to all sorts of mischief. It’s an added element to sport, and it would certainly spice things up a bit.
The thing is, if you have a supporter doing their magic to help their team, what would be the repercussions? As punishment, they could get kicked out, and possibly even banned for life. But people tend to be nuts about the teams that they support, and I think that magical high jinks would happen more than you think. Whatever the punishment, there will be somebody willing to risk it all to help their team.
And just like that, we have circled back to yet another flaw in quidditch – an unacceptable lack of control on cheating. The mounting evidence is damning.
Of course quidditch has been done in real life (as much as a sport based on magic can be done within the bounds of reality). I’ll leave you to be the judge of what you think of it…
And look – at the end of the day, I don’t have a genuine beef with Quidditch or JK Rowling – Quidditch has to be right up there when we are talking about fictional sports. If I was a wizard, I’m sure I would be all over it. Inventing a new sport, fictional or otherwise, must be immensely difficult too, because so many of the good ideas have already been taken.
Most of the best scenes in Harry Potter would be lost without the seeker-snitch element, and I suppose it wouldn’t make for much of a spectacle if a stadium of fans turned out to watch a 1v1 for the Snitch either. It would be less of a sport and more of a game; a bit like Tag.
No doubt there will be hordes of Harry Potter nerds out there too, seething at my outrageous disrespect towards Quidditch and the Harry Potter franchise, armed with comebacks to refute everything I’ve suggested here. And I can already sense the fury from wizards that are obsessed with the sport – I can hear it already:
‘Quidditch is my LIFE! It’s the best sport in existence!! I saved up all my pocket money, and spent all 14 sickles and 3 knuts on Kennilworthy Whisp’s ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’, and I’m getting flying lessons so I can be just like Harry Potter, and you’re telling me that it’s a load of rubbish? You stinking muggle! Kenmare Kestrels til I die! KENMARE, KENMARE, KENMARE!
If there is anybody like that, then I’m happy to hear their case.
But yeah. A wee bit of a flaw you have there, Miss Rowling.