Quidditch World Cup 2011
Fans cheer their college teams at the International Quidditch Association's 2011 World Cup. Creative Commons

The International Quidditch Association hosted the fifth annual Quidditch World Cup at Randall's Island in New York from Nov. 11-13, 2011. Middlebury College won the Cup after 22 hours of play, featuring almost 100 teams, over 2,000 players, and five different countries. Watch highlights of the Harry Potter-inspired games, learn how to play and learn from teams at the IQA games.

Middlebury College Claims Quidditch World Cup

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on Blu-Ray and DVD on Nov. 11, many Harry Potter fans have begun to feel that, at long last, the journey of J.K. Rowling's bestselling wizarding series through their childhoods has come to an end. For those dedicated few however, one aspect of the Harry Potter series is alive and well: Quidditch.

There are more than 100 teams in the International Quidditch Association, started in 2007 when the fictional wizarding sport was adapted by college students to be acted out by real-life players. Today, there are more than 100 teams in the IQA.

In a Quidditch World Cup tournament, each team is grouped with four others, playing against each other to determine which of the five qualifies for the next round. The top-three teams then move on into the final tournament at Randall's Island in New York City.

This year's Quidditch World Cup was in New York City, from Nov. 11-3, 2011. Almost 100 teams with over 2,000 players competed, representing 27 states and five different countries, the first time colleges from outside the United States and Canada has chosen to compete. Middlebury College, one of the schools to start the Quidditch craze, took home the Cup after more than 22 hours of tournament competition.

Muggle Quidditch: Breakdown of 2011 World Cup Rules

The rules of Quidditch are surprisingly similar to those in the world of Harry Potter and Viktor Krum. Teams consist of the four positions of Keeper, Seeker, Chasers and Beaters, all of whom run around on broomsticks kept firmly between their legs. Three chasers use a volleyball instead of a quaffle, but still try to score against the keeper as the goalie-substitute guarded three hoops. The two beaters, while denied balls as single-minded and dangerous as a bludger, are still expected to lob projectiles at the opposing team.

The position with the most changes is undoubtedly that of the seeker, something which should come as no surprise to Harry Potter fans. In the books and movies, the snitch is a golden ball with wings, hard to pull off the in the muggle world. Instead, a single, neutral snitch runner is chosen, attaching a tennis ball to a yellow sock at the back of their shorts. Seekers from both teams try and catch him or her on their broomsticks.

In order to make things fairer, the snitch is only worth 30 points in International Quidditch Association games, rather than the 150 awarded in Rowling's fictional universe.

Nonetheless, the snitch still serves to end the game (though the World Cup instituted a 30 minute time limit for each match), and the runner in charge of protecting the ball can do whatever they want to avoid capture. In one memorable instance, according to IQA head referee Chris Beesley, a snitch ended up driving away from the game in a car to delay his capture. Because of this, the runner typically does not enter the game until halftime. For the full rulebook, you can visit internationalquidditch.org.

The Only Sport I've Joined (and Stuck With).

The beauty of a Quidditch World Cup, despite the downside of lacking necessities like magical brooms and bewitched Bludgers, is that players don't have to rely on the Harry Potter canon to play it. Quidditch existed in Harry Potter's universe long before Hargid told the orphaned boy about Hogwarts School and You-Know-Who, and those participating in the 2011 World Cup see no reason to stop playing Quidditch now that the series is at an end.

Even after Harry Potter movies and books have stopped production however, the sport continues to grow. Dan Miller, president of Ohio State University's Quidditch team, believes that although the sport started off as a tribute to the fictional Harry Potter series, the activity has since grown into something more.

It's becoming its own sport, Miller, whose team placed third in its tournament pool, told The Ohio Lantern. It's kind of becoming known as being separated from the book and being known as a sport. It's kind of exciting to see [the] boom in popularity.

Quidditch's popularity has certainly grown. The number of teams competing in the semi-finals and finals of the 2011 Quidditch World Cup are almost triple the amount who competed in 2009. Whether the sport is becoming divorced from the Harry Potter universe as Miller claims is something only time will tell. As J.K. Rowling launches web-accompaniment Pottermore to help satisfy her ravenous fan base, it appears the the trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione continued to be a driving force in the fun of playing Quidditch.

Beesely, 26, can attest to this factor in the sport's success. It's grown so fast, and so much, Beesley said, because of the passion of the people.

Even the events at the 2011 Quidditch World Cup attest to this mix of fandom and athleticism. The three-day competition also included a two-day festival, complete with improv comedy and short concerts, and almost all those attending the games either dressed up as their favorite Harry Potter characters or were more than ready to immerse themselves in the wizarding world.

These same be-robed spectators however, are the quickest to defend Quidditch as a legitimate sport, many citing it as one of the only ones they've attended while in college. Players meanwhile, say the bond they feel among their teammates is unlike anything they experienced while trying other sports. Joining the team, players told NYUL, meant finding both “the best friends made in college” and “the only sport I’ve joined [and stuck with].”

Perhaps the truth of Muggle Quidditch then, is in such vehemently defended silliness. The moment Beesely and his fellow referees blow their whistle, the games at the International Quidditch Association tournaments become as intense as their more recognized counterparts in football or hockey, or indeed within the pages of Rowling's beloved books and on the screen of the series' filmic adaptations. The 2011 Quidditch World Cup proves that, for the moment, the combination of sports-team bonding and the intensity of shared geekery is enough to make the IQA and its fans a lasting and legitimate part of the Harry Potter legacy.

Below, watch clips of the 2011 Quidditch World Cup at Randall's Island, New York City.

The International Quidditch Association's Official Video for the 2011 Quidditch World Cup

Middlebury vs. Texas A&M Finals: Danger of Chasing the Snitch

Compilation of Snitch Chases from 2011 Quidditch World Cup

Clip from Middelbury vs. Tufts Game