Quidditch changes name: what did JK Rowling say, why real life sport has changed its name, what is quadball?
When it was first announced that the game would be changing its name, QuidditchUK said ‘distancing ourselves from JK Rowling will cement the sport and community as the inclusive space it already is’
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Organisations like US Quidditch (USQ), Major League Quidditch (MLQ), Quidditch UK (QUK) and the International Quidditch Association (IQA) have all announced that they will be changing the name of the sport.
The decision comes in a bid to distance the sport from JK Rowling, whose Harry Potterseries provided the inspiration for the game, after the writer publicly and repeatedly expressed transphobic views on Twitter.
As it stands, Rowling has not responded to the choice to rename the sport.
This is everything you need to know.
Why has Quidditch rebranded as Quadball?
Late last year, US Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) announced they would carry out a series of surveys to find a new name for the sport, after Rowling attracted criticism for her views on gender identity.
At the time, QuidditchUK (QUK) said the name change was a necessary “shift towards our own identity” because of issues surrounding both the Warner Brothers film company trademark and Rowling’s remarks.
It stated: “More importantly, distancing ourselves from JK Rowling will cement the sport and community as the inclusive space it already is.
“Since our inception the inclusion of all persons, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, or background has been a cornerstone of our sport.
“We cannot continue to call ourselves quidditch and be associated with JK Rowling while she continues to make damaging and hateful comments against the many transgender athletes, staff, and volunteers who call this sporting community home.”
It has since been announced that Quidditch will be known as Quadball. Other names that were under consideration included Quickball, Quicker, Quidstrike and Quadraball.
In a statement regarding the announcement, QuidditchUK (QUK), which hasn’t formally changed its name on its website yet, said: “Following the USQ and MLQ announcement in December of last year, we’re pleased to announce we are joining USQ and other national governing bodies in renaming our sport to Quadball.
“QuidditchUK supports this great moment in the development of our sport, which is both symbolically and practically significant.
“The name change indicates a firm stance with our trans players and members, as well as giving us more firm legal footing and opening up greater opportunities for funding and external partners.”
In the announcement, QUK said it was “happy with the name that USQ have chosen, which was the second most popular name among our own members” and that players should expect the balls and snitch to also be renamed “at some point in the future”, although no specifics were given.
“We intend to move ahead with the QUK rebrand later this year, and will provide guidance for clubs alongside this,” the statement ended.
What did JK Rowling say?
Rowling’s controversies regarding her statements on transgender people began in 2019, after she tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a woman whose job contract at the Centre for Global Development was not renewed following tweets she made about transgender people, writing things such as “men cannot change into women” and “it is unfair and unsafe for trans women to compete in women’s sport”.
At the time, Rowling tweeted: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”
While this did cause a stir at the time, it was a few months later that Rowling really doubled down on the topic.
In June 2020, Rowling took issue with an article which used the phrase “people who menstruate”.
She tweeted the article and wrote: “”People who menstruate.” I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
In response to her tweet, many pointed out that menstruation is not a something which is exclusively experienced by cisgender women.
Twitter users highlighted that transgender men experience menstruation, transgender (and some cisgender) women don’t, and other gender identities across the spectrum can also experience periods as well.
Clue, an app designed to track menstrual cycles, also responded to her tweet, writing: “Hi @jk_rowling, using non-gendered language is about moving beyond the idea that woman = uterus. Feminists were once mocked for wanting to change sexist language, but it’s now common to say firefighter instead of fireman.
“It seems awkward right now to say “people who menstruate” but this is just like changing other biased language. Menstruation is a biological function; not a “woman thing”. It’s unnecessary to gender body parts and doing so can restrict healthcare access for those who need it.”
Over the following weeks and months, Rowling went on to publish a long personal essay titled J.K Rowling writers about her reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues.
She tweeted about the essay with the caption “TERF wars”.
In the essay, Rowling wrote: “I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe.
“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman - and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones - then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.”
A number of studies, however, have found that the implementation of nondiscrimination laws, which allow transgender people to use the correct bathroom for their gender identity, have not led to any increase of criminal activity.
Her comments online sparked backlash from fans, as well as from fellow celebrities such as Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, and others including Jonathan Van Ness, fellow author Margaret Atwood, Pete Davidson and more.
Rowling has since come out in support of other stars who have been criticised for sharing “transphobic” statements.
In July 2022, she tweeted in support of Macy Gray after she made comments about the trans community on Piers Morgan Uncensored.
The author took to Twitter sharing: “Today feels like a good day to ensure I’ve bought @MacyGraysLife’s entire back catalogue.”
How is Quadball played?
While the game got its beginning as a fictional sport in Rowling’s Harry Potter series, it has since been transported into the real world, with its own leagues and organisations.
Of course the game had to be adapted in order to be played in the real world, as characters in Harry Potter flew around on broomsticks.
QUK explains: “Quidditch is a fast-paced, mixed-gender, full-contact sport that is played in communities and universities by hundreds of players throughout the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.
“Seven players on each team compete to outscore their opponents by scoring the quaffle through the one of the opposition hoops, defending their own hoops with tackles and bludgers, and catching the snitch to win the game.”
Clubs will compete against each other in teams of 21, with rotating squads of seven a side on a pitch at any one time, with:
- Three chasers, whose job it is to defend the hoops and attempt to score against their opposition by shooting or driving the quaffle (a volleyball) through any one of the three hoops on the other team’s side - a goal is worth 10 points
- One keeper, who defends the hoops and works with the chasers in order to score against their opponents
- Two beaters, who are tasked with disrupting the opposing team by throwing bludgers (dodgeballs) at opposing players. There are three bludgers in play at any time, and any player struck by a bludger thrown by the other team must drop the ball that they are carrying, dismount their broom, and run back to their own hoops to tag back in before they can resume play
- One seeker, who must catch the snitch and end the game - the snitch is worth 30 points, and is attached to the snitch runner, who is an impartial official that has the job of attempting to avoid the seeker on either team
A broom is held between the legs of all players at all time, and any action taken by a player - including running, shooting, passing, catching or tackling - must be completed with a broom in between their legs.