University teams playing quidditch (quadball)

Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Distancing itself from J.K. Rowling, real-life Quidditch changes its name to Quadball

Competitive quadball leagues will now have more freedom to pursue sponsorships and broadcast deals.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Last year, the two main governing bodies for real-life quidditch announced plans to pursue a name change. Now that new name has arrived: Quadball.

Launched in 2005, the non-magical version of quidditch is played by thousands of people across the world, with a structure of international championships including semi-pro leagues. This new rebranding effort was inspired by two issues, one of which is a widespread problem across Harry Potter fandom: J.K. Rowling‘s increasingly extreme anti-trans views. A lot of players want to distance the sport from Rowling, arguing that quadball should be seen an independent entity.

However, Rowling’s divisive reputation isn’t the only reason to rename the sport. The organizations previously known as U.S. Quidditch and Major League Quidditch also cited financial and copyright concerns, hoping to move quadball closer to more mainstream sports.

Last year, U.S. Quidditch co-founder Alex Benepe said the sport was at a turning point, explaining, “We can continue the status quo and stay relatively small, or we can make big moves and really propel this sport forward into its next phase.” In particular, quadball—which is especially popular among college athletes—could pursue sponsorships and TV broadcast deals if it was no longer beholden to Rowling and Warner Bros.’ copyright.

In this week’s renaming announcement, the newly-retitled U.S. Quadball compared the sport to Ultimate Frisbee, which adopted the “ultimate” in order to distance itself from the Frisbee toy trademark.

“Quidditch” belongs to Warner Bros., but while quadball was originally inspired by J.K. Rowling’s fictional sport, it involves a lot of key differences including a) no flying, b) no magical balls, and c) a sophisticated rulebook that was developed over 17 years by players and coaches. The sport now resembles a cross between rugby, lacrosse, and dodgeball.

Long before Rowling became a controversial figure, quadball was already conceived as a gender-inclusive sport. The rules actually mandate mixed-gender teams, and U.S. Quadball welcomes trans and nonbinary players. As such, this split from the official Potter brand was only a matter of time.

The Daily Dot