Column: JK Rowling, your sport makes no sense

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Dear JK,

I love you and your literary works. I’ve got a wand upstairs in my room; I’m a huge Minerva McGonagall guy and I know why you need to bow to a Hippogriff before approaching it. You’re one of the greatest writers of all time, but my God would you be one horrible sports league commissioner.

After a very sensible fan took to Twitter on Tuesday to call out Quidditch’s scoring system, Rowling had a pretty curt retort.

“It makes total sense. There’s glamour in chasing an elusive lucky break, but teamwork and persistence can still win the day. Everyone’s vulnerable to blows of fate and obstructive people, and success means rising above them. Quidditch is the human condition. You’re welcome.”

While eloquent, this tweet ignores the fact that EVERY sport is representative of the human condition. That’s why we like them! And they all have the added bonus of rules that make sense. Rules that don’t allow a game to be dictated almost entirely by just one player. Rules that don’t basically create two separate games going on at once.

For those of you that didn’t get a Hogwarts letter on their 11th birthday, Quidditch is the most popular sport in the wizarding world. Chasers score the goals, keepers defend them and beaters are like if you gave every NHL enforcer the ability to send their fists flying around the arena at whim. Seekers are the main reason why Quidditch is believable as the favorite sport of a bunch of people that still use quills and ink to write in the 1990s. It’s the seekers’ job to catch the Golden Snitch, a walnut-sized ball that awards the team that captures it 150 points and immediately ends the game. “You catch this Potter, and we win,” Oliver Wood says to Harry Potter in the first movie.

While it is eventually shown that catching the snitch does not always guarantee victory, (shoutout Victor Krum) Wood lays out one of the biggest flaws in the sport. Whoever catches the Snitch ends up winning the match the vast majority of the time. Each team’s seeker matters much more than every other position.

Is there a single team sport that depends on one player as much as Quidditch does? The NFL comes the closest, especially in this day and age of passing offenses. However, quarterbacks in the NFL are still dependent on their offensive lines and the weapons around them. As Gisele Bündchen famously put it after her husband Tom Brady’s loss in the Super Bowl, “My husband cannot f****** throw and catch the ball at the same time.” You can be upset at the NFL’s increasing coddling of their quarterbacks, but at least they get hit and are involved in plays. It’s been stated in the Harry Potter books that a seeker’s best strategy is to fly as high above the field as possible and stay out of play so as to better spy the snitch.

Because the snitch also ends the game, if a team is down by over 150 points their seeker has no motive to catch the snitch at all. They are better served flying around aimlessly than performing the primary objective the position entails. Theoretically, a seeker could try to distract their opponent by pretending to see the snitch, ala Krum in the 1994 World Cup, but if I’m an opposing seeker with the lead you’re just doing my work for me.

Sports teams try to run down the clock all the time at the end of games but because there’s a shot clock, there’s still pressure on them to score or keep control of the possession. Quidditch is somehow fine with letting the Tom Brady’s and LeBron James’ of their sport end the game with some R&R.

Quidditch is like two sports within one. Scoring goals is the main objective until it isn’t. It’s bad enough that football’s and hockey’s overtimes barely resemble their respective sports. Imagine if you’ve scored 10 goals but you still lose the game because your seeker sneezes at the wrong time. Rowling calls it “an elusive lucky break,” I call it an insult to team sports. There should be room for upsets but talent as whole should also matter. If a sport was created today that is almost always determined outside of how the majority of points are created, it would immediately be dismissed as asinine.

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced tomorrow that the on-court action would stay the same but a man chasing a ball in the concourse could earn the team another 50 points and end the game, you would want him registered for psychiatric evaluation as soon as possible.

In a world of moving portraits, talking hats and flying cars, Quidditch is fittingly a sport that toes the line of insanity. I would kill to have a magic wand, an owl or the ability to fly. But I’ll keep our Muggle sports leagues. Our craziness comes from Timberwolves’ practices, not the rulebooks.


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.