The game of Quidditch, a wizardly sport made famous by the Harry Potter books, is switching its name and replacing it with Quadball.
There are various reasons behind such a move, but news outlets are expressing that the sport is changing its name to distance itself from JK Rowling, the author of the books.
According to the governing body of the sport, they are separating themselves from the author due to her anti-transgender comments.
Major League Quidditch stated: “[The new name] opens unprecedented opportunities for growth, exposure and partnerships. It is a game changer, and we are looking to make the most of it.’ The governing body for US Quidditch, which is separate from Major League Quidditch, will change its name immediately. Meanwhile, Major League Quidditch said the name change would come into effect in August. Quidditch is a fictional sport in the books written by Rowling, which sees two teams fly on broomsticks and score points with four different types of balls. The game is won immediately if the Seeker captures the Golden Snitch. The real-life version has taken leaps and bounds. The sport has evolved from one team in 2005 at Middlebury College to now being played by nearly 600 teams in 40 countries.
Reasons behind the name change do vary from outlet to outlet. Warner Bros has trademarked the name quidditch because they own the movie rights to the franchise. However, there are inklings that Rowling’s comments on gender issues played a role in the change. The author was in the spotlight over her views on this issue in June 2020, where she opposed the idea that menstruation should be considered gender neutral. Governing body QuidditchUK (QUK) said it was “happy” to change its name and has termed the move as “symbolically and practically significant”.
Exploring the change of name more deeply, one could argue that the sport hasn’t actually distanced itself from the disgraced Rowling. Instead, the change has put the sport and Rowling’s views on gender into the spotlight more in the short term. Of course, this may change. This is especially when the inevitable news cycle chucks this story out of the window as we move on to another cultural phenomenon that may or may not involve the world’s richest living author. Until that moment comes and we move away from the reasons behind the name change, the name switch does more harm than good for the sport.
Quidditch inspires intrigue for people to join in, but Quadball sounds like a sport that you want to avoid in your secondary school PE days. It lacks the originality, creativity, and bombastic imagery that quidditch has. As Tom Fiske had said in an interview for the BBC, the name change could mean fewer people are interested in playing the sport. There is always a society at university with this sport, and such a name change could mean fewer people are interested in such a fascinating competitive sport. It also may take a long time for people to get used to saying Quadball, and it will be inevitable that people will incorrectly say Qudditich.
The sport can all be about changing its name and wanting to establish its own identity away from a person they disagree with.
However, there is a concern that such a change could be deadly for the sport and a major cost.
That cost would be for the sport to turn back into what it originally was: a sport based on fantasy, fiction and make-believe.