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Alex Benepe

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10 Reasons Why You Should Come to the Quidditch World Cup

Posted: 09/23/11 12:08 PM ET

Randall's Island

Home to events like Rock the Bells, Electric Zoo, the Dave Matthews Band caravan, and Usain Bolt's 200m world record, this is a historic, world-class event venue that is well cared-for by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation, with great views of the city skyline, miles of water-side bike trails, and best of all? You can take a boat to get there. "First years, this way!"

Real Athletes

For one reason or another, quidditch still gets stereotyped as fantasy-fulfillment for chubby nerds. Anyone who still holds this illusion should come to the World Cup and watch D1-level chasers tackle each other head on, or experienced beaters peg their opponent in the head from 30 feet away, or seekers eating dirt after an unsuccessful Superman dive for the snitch (see reason number five).

10 fields, 1 cup

Are things slow on your field? With no assigned seating (except for VIP), you can jump up at any time and head to any of ten other fields at any given time. If the New York teams aren't doing it for you, check out the team from Finland on field 2, or some hard-hitting Texans on field 7. With 100 teams and 2,000 athletes attending from four nations and 20 states, this event will seriously have something for everyone. The event will culminate at the championship matches on Sunday November 13th in Icahn Stadium before a live audience of 5,000.

Comedy

The real-life version of quidditch was adapted by Xander Manshel, a talented improv comedian, and the sport has stayed true to its roots by always bringing in professional improv comedians to announce every World Cup game. Their mandate is primarily for entertainment, with professional reporting often taking a back seat. This year will feature comedians from PIT (People's Improv Theater), a NYC comedy club. Past highlights include the 2008 World Cup, when the announcers refused to call Moravian College anything other than "the nation state of Muldova" and made calls like, "Wow Jim, I haven't seen them run that fast since the coup of 1973," and "That's another goal scored by Muldova, chief exporter of wooden crates. And sadness."

Snitches

For perhaps the first time in New York City's history, people will aspire to be snitches. Snitch runners, free agents in quidditch unattached to any team, have been described as "hip-hop rodeo clowns." A game of quidditch does not end until the "snitch" is caught -- a sock-like tail hanging from the shorts of the snitch runner like a flag football. Typically varsity distance runners or former wrestlers, snitches dress all in gold and have almost no limitations. Snitches can climb trees and fences, hop on the back of moving vehicles, throw objects at their pursuers, steal bicycles, shoot their assailants with water guns, and do whatever it takes to get away. The peak of excitement occurs when they return to the field and must evade the seekers in a more confined space. At this point they resort to classic wrestling throws and take-downs, spin moves, tumbles, flips, and handsprings. One of the IQA's top slogans? "I've got 99 problems, but a snitch ain't one." Unless you're a seeker, that is.

Harry Potter Fans

Whether you know the books by heart or have never glanced at one of the movies, seeing and interacting with hundreds if not thousands of Harry Potter fans is an experience like no other. These are not, for the most part, the 40 year old guys with ponytails who hang out at Star Trek conventions. Harry Potter fans are young, attractive, mostly women, and completely unabashed in their love of the genre. Expect dozens of robes and cloaks, school uniforms, Dobby masks, Death Eaters, and yes, wand duels happening on the sidelines. Kudos to Rowling for creating such an awesome fandom.

Imaginary Numbers

Quidditch players might be confined by a lack of gravity-defying magic, but they are not confined by real numbers. Players will hit the pitch with "numbers" that include fractions, pi, the square root of negative one, and even emoticons or symbols like <3 on the backs of their jerseys. The nerd imagination knows no bounds.

Co-ed sports

Ever watched a girl tackle the sh*t out of a guy twice her size? Want to see it happen over and over? Quidditch is a co-ed, full-contact sport played in any weather. Mud and blood are regular parts of the game, and the athletes love it. Last year's medical report included a few fractures, concussions, and even a bee sting. There's nothing more bad-ass than being asked about a scar and saying, "Oh, that? Got it playing quidditch."

Lots of balls

And I'm not just talking about the tenacity of the athletes. Rowling was on to something when she created a sport that has more than one ball. Think about the most popular mainstream sports -- they all have just one ball, puck, or disc. Real-life quidditch by comparison is a game where at least a quarter of the players are holding a ball at all times. With three dodgeballs flying back and forth, a volleyball passed around the field, and almost no rules about stoppage of play, there is utter mayhem on the pitch and pure, hard-hitting, non-stop action. Throw the snitch into the mix and it's a regular circus. This game makes other sports look like nap time.

Revenge of the liberal arts

Because quidditch started at small northeastern colleges, some of the most experienced and skilled teams still reside there. However, in recent years the big southern sports universities have started catching up... but they're not quite there yet. Who are this year's top four teams? Texas A&M, Arizona State, Louisiana State, and, wait for it... Middlebury College from Vermont. Other top ten teams include Emerson College (a performing arts school in Boston), Boston University, and Tufts.