It's time to brush off your broomstick and bone up on your Harry Potter. The once fictional sport of Quidditch, made famous by author J.K. Rowling's popular book series, is not only very real; it's also a pretty big deal.
The 2014 Quidditch World Cup VII is coming to the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex on April 5-6, 2014. More than 80 college teams from all over the U.S. and Canada will invade the Grand Strand area to compete in the game of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry fame.
Brooms away — Photo courtesy of Michael E. Mason
For those unfamiliar with the Harry Potter series, or for those unaware that the sport has been adopted by fans of the series who are now of college age, Quidditch is a team sport that involves players on flying broomsticks chasing Quaffles, Bludgers and the Golden Snitch.
But in Muggle Quidditch, the kind played by college kids without magical powers, players are required to carry a broom between their legs at all times. Volleyballs are used as Quaffles, dodgeballs serve as Bludgers and the Golden Snitch is a tennis ball stuffed in a sock that is tucked in the waistband of the Snitch runner, a neutral player who is allowed to roam an area beyond the playing field.
Leaping wizards — Photo courtesy of International Quidditch Association
Each team features seven players on the playing surface at a time: three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker. The game is played on a field approximately the size of a hockey rink, featuring three circular goals of varying heights and placed on either side of the field. The object is to score goals and catch the elusive Snitch.
Quidditch may sound a bit confusing to the uninitiated, but the appeal of the sport is spreading throughout college campuses around the world. In fact, this is the seventh annual IQA World Cup. The number of participating teams increases each year.
The tournament will attract 1,500 competitors and a number of spectators curious to see how the Muggle version of the sport plays out on a real field. The colorful uniforms, team names and cast of characters make Quidditch as fun to watch as it is to play.
Making a play — Photo courtesy of Tim Atkins
This year, the IQA (International Quidditch Association) selected Myrtle Beach over Kissimee, FL, to host the big event. The IQA cited the brand new North Myrtle Beach Parks and Sports Complex's excellent facilities and location for selecting the first-time location. The complex, which features 14 new fields that can host baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and more, opened on March 1.