Sunday, November 14, 2010
Muggle Quidditch and the Revenge of the Potter Nerds
NPR has a piece on the growth of Quidditch, the wizard sport in Harry Potter. It is now being played at several dozen high schools and colleges, and there is even a move to make it an official NCAA sport. Unlike the Quidditch of Harry Potter, Muggle Quidditch does not involve flying, but players do run around with a broomstick between their legs.
I take pride in this much as I take pride in the success of television shows like Big Bang Theory, Lost and Battlestar Galactica; it is a sign of the increased cultural power of us nerds, people who relate to the world primarily through the mind as opposed to the physical or the social. This "nerd" sensibility is most obviously manifested in an attachment to reading or, in the case of television, shows with strong literary qualities. In the case of Quidditch, what we have, in a matter of fashion, is a deconstruction of athletics in which the product of a literary culture is allowed to dominate the culture of athletics, the most obvious manifestation of our physical culture. The nerd is allowed to take on this physical culture on his own terms and come out victorious. For this reason I would support the continued use of broomsticks in the game; it maintains the sport as a parody. I suspect that Quidditch would cease to be interesting if it became just another sport, unmoored from its connection to the most successful product of literary culture. We nerds would lose our revenge.