ESPN Feature on QuidditchFans
It would seem some curious fellows from the world of Muggle sport have taken an interest in our own magical sport of Quidditch, as witnessed today by a new feature on ESPN.com. The article recaps information about the Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup held last fall at Middlebury College, and marvels on the game that is now widely played on many college campuses (There won't be any flying -- damn gravity! -- but there will be broomsticks, held between the legs while running, bludgers ("I'll teach you to try to score!" Whack!) and even a snitch (only the flying golden ball is replaced by a fast guy or gal clad in gold with a tennis ball in a sock stuck in his or her waistband). ESPN also interviews several players from nd Uof W and from LSU as well as Alex Benepe who drew up a 39 page Intercollegiate Quidditch Rule and Guide Book.
"Benepe, 22, is from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was a varsity distance runner in high school, and during his freshman year at Middlebury he was on the crew team. "I didn't like the way that a major sport eats up your life at college without allowing much time for creativity," he says, explaining why he stopped doing crew, "so I got on board with developing Quidditch in order to combine creativity and sports."
"During the peak of the fall season, I was probably spending 30 hours per week making preparations for the World Cup," he wrote in an e-mail."We had to secure the use of a field, and spray down the markings using field paint," Benepe says later, by phone. "We had to rent bleachers from the college and arrange for band boxes, and get sound equipment. I arranged for catering, to give some free food to people. The Vermont Institute of Natural Science brought owls. I arranged for student bands to play between games."
Many of the teams had to overcome initial resistance from the Universities. Alicia Radford of UofW says of her teams involvement:
"It was tough. We thought we had a sponsorship deal, but that fell through," Radford says. "We hosted a benefit concert/party and sold Quidditch club T-shirts, which helped, but mostly we paid for it out of our own pockets. I ended up fronting a lot of the costs to get our seats on the planes reserved, and for the next month everyone paid me back." Kori Leporte from Louisianna State told ESPN:The school actually refused to give us any aid as far as funding the trip went," Lopreore writes in an e-mail, "possibly because the reputation of the club was so questionable at the time." "Even though the trip ended up being personally costly, every single player admitted it was well worth the investment," Lopreore says, "and now that we're the fourth-ranked team in the world, we're hoping to squeeze a little money out of the school for next year's Cup."
"I think Harry Potter gives it the initial hook, but the quality of game really gets people hooked because it's really fun to play," Benepe says. And though it took a lot of work to put the World Cup together, Benepe says, the benefit far outweighed the cost.
"Oh yeah, it was totally worth it," he says. "I definitely enjoyed it. I love Middlebury and my classes there, but doing something on your own that you dream up, all the way from brainstorming to seeing it actually happen, is a very rewarding feeling."