As skirmishes between France and Britain go, it wasn't exactly the Battle of Agincourt. But the French will take it anyway.
France defeated its neighbors across the English Channel to become the first-ever European Quidditch champions over the weekend, the Guardian reports. The final score of the game, played in Sarteano, Italy, was 90-50.
Fans of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books will recognize Quidditch as the game played by aspiring wizards and witches on flying broomsticks at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The sport has become a minor phenomenon in real life, with some minor adaptations -- for one, the laws of physics being what they are, "muggle Quidditch" requires that players stay on the ground, with boring, non-flying broomsticks.
It might be tempting for those who aren't steeped in the "Harry Potter" universe to mock the sport, but it's no joke -- in this weekend's game, a French keeper was injured with a broken shoulder. The French team captain, Dennis Jordan, seemed to have no hard feelings, saying, "It was a legal tackle; both teams played aggressively but within the rules."
The rules of Quidditch can seem byzantine to the casual observer, but the sport is catching on all over the world. And it seems to lack the rancor that surrounds many other competitive games. Giulio Cioncoloni, a volunteer at the tournament, described the game as half bloodsport, half love-fest: "It's a beautiful sport because it's one of strength. But at the end of the game, everyone hugs. It's a great community. Quidditch is a sport for everyone."
It's not just in Europe, either. The organization US Quidditch holds the annual World Cup in the sport, featuring teams like the Los Angeles Gambits, the Wizards of Westwood, and the Long Beach Funky Quaffles. The Southern California teams haven't been lucky in recent years, though -- the last three World Cup championships went to the University of Texas at Austin.
Fans of muggle Quidditch have high hopes for the future of the sport, with some envisioning their country's team eventually donning gold Olympic medals. Karen Kimaki, the tournament director of the Quidditch European Games, isn't ready to go that far yet, though.
"For me, I don't personally care if we become an Olympic sport," Kimaki told NPR. "I feel like that's a form of recognition I don't necessarily need to have to enjoy the sport itself."
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