KISSIMMEE, Fla., April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Sports fans and Harry Potter lovers, rejoice – the real-life Quidditch World Cup is being hosted in Florida this weekend, and 80 official college teams from 22 US states and 4 nations are all competing to hoist the coveted trophy.
Although quidditch may be inspired by the high-flying, broom-riding sport from the Harry Potter books and films, the real-life version is actually a full-contact, official club sport at over 250 colleges globally. The league roster includes ivy leagues like Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, and sports powerhouses like Texas A&M, LSU, OSU, USC, and Michigan, among hundreds of others. While Harry Potter fans make up a portion of the players, the top teams are filled with varsity athletes, who "hit like linebackers and move like lacrosse players," according to a 2010 Time Magazine article. The game started at Middlebury College seven years ago and so far has developed and grown faster in its early years than any sport before it. This year attending teams are flying into the sunshine state from as far away as France and Canada.
A quick run-through of the rules: the game is a cross between rugby and dodgeball, with four active balls on the field. Chasers (offense) attempt to score with the quaffle (a volleyball) or tackle opposing chasers to gain possession, while beaters (defense) peg opposing players with bludgers (dodgeballs) to knock them out of play. Simultaneously, one free-agent runner plays the golden snitch (he wears a Velcro tail that seekers - one from each team - have to pull off his shorts to end the game and get an extra 30 points for their team). The only catch? The snitch runner can leave the pitch (he gets a 10 minute head-start), and can do anything to evade capture, including climbing trees and fences, and performing wrestling moves on his pursuers, while performing handsprings and flips to evade capture. To make things even harder, seekers, like all other players, must attempt to catch him with only one hand, as their other is required to hold a broom between their legs (it's an added challenge, like dribbling in basketball). A great summary of the rules is available online, or download the full rulebook.
To top off the excitement and hilarity of the sport itself, the atmosphere of the event is half of the reason for attending. Fox News once called it "a cross between the superbowl and a medieval festival" – Last year the event (hosted in New York City) had 10,000 spectators. Tons of families and young adults show up in amazing costumes, and magicians, musical performers (including Team StarKid and Harry and the Potters), and other wandering and stage-based acts will entertain the crowd between games. Improv comedians provide amplified commentary on the games, and any youngsters in attendance will have the option of trying their hand at the game on the "kidditch" field.
The event is happening this weekend, and runs from 9 AM - 11 PM on Saturday, April 13th, and 8 AM - 5 PM on Sunday, April 14th. Interested attendees can pick up event tickets at www.worldcupquidditch.com. Additionally, tickets for a special party after the Cup (at a very magical location) are available at http://www.visitkissimmee.com/sports/quidditch/fan_night
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