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Soup of This Day #145: And The Grass It Was A Ticking

February 29, 2012

Giant traffic cone in Seattle
A giant traffic cone in Seattle. Traffic cones are also known as witches’ hats. How’d this 1 get so large? Magic – Photo: TriviaKing, 2007. TriviaKing is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Every time I submit a post for publication WordPress offers up a quote as inspiration to carry on.

I appreciate the sentiment but mostly I ignore the words. I’m sure the thoughts are nice and all but I’m not that guy. Mostly for me these kind of things are a short step up from bumper sticker slogans and I don’t do bumper sticker philosophy.

For years you’d see ‘Magic happens’ stickers on the back of Perth cars. I always wanted to pull over 1 of these cars and ask the driver, ‘When?’

See, I’m not against the idea of magic happening and I’m not saying it does or doesn’t happen – I’d just like to be ready if it does. Maybe it could be useful. Maybe it could be ironic – The Washington Wizards could use some magical irony, they’re a woeful 7 and 26 in this abbreviated season. The Orlando Magic by contrast are 22 and 13. Apparently magic happens by itself and you don’t need wizards then.

Which is ok – I liked the Harry Potter films but I’m not really sure that I want wizards and witches running around, throwing out spells like all get out. There’s something to be said for a certain solidity in life and very little in favour of me suddenly being turned into a rabbit.

Others might disagree – Not about turning me into a rabbit – More in terms of recreating the whole Harry Potter thing here in reality, in particular the sport of Quidditch. Wikipedia lists it as the ‘fictional sport in the story of Harry Potter’ but a bunch of US college students have tried to render it as fact.

Invented in the community of Advance, North Carolina, the sport of Muggle Quidditch (Muggles being non-magical people in J.K. Rowlings Potterverse) doesn’t involve any obvious magic.

Although players are strangely required to carry a broomstick between their legs at all times, possibly just in case.

In the realised version as in the fictional equivalent, Quidditch is played by 7 people a side. 3 players from each team are designated as Chasers – Their job is to secure the Quaffle, a large ball, and to pass it through the hoop-like goal at the field’s end for 10 points. In Muggle Quidditch the field is roughly football field sized and the Quaffle is a slightly deflated volleyball. The hoop-like goal is generally a hula hoop. Go figure.

1 player is a Keeper. This is self-explanatory – He or she is charged with protecting the hula hoop. 2 further players are Beaters who, using dodgeballs called Bludgers, attempt to put off the Chasers. They achieve this by pelting the Bludger at them and if they successfully strike the Chaser, the stricken player must drop the Quaffle and run back to their own goal.

With the broomstick between their legs. Never forget the broomstick.

The final member of this band of players is the Seeker. Fans of the books and/or films will know this as the role filled by Harry Potter. His job was to hang about until the Golden Snitch had been spotted and then catch it before the other team’s Seeker could do the same. Catch the Snitch and the game is over with 150 points going to the successful Seeker’s team.

In the fictional game the Golden Snitch is a small, winged ball that is fast, difficult to spot and extremely hard to catch.

In Muggle Quidditch the Golden Snitch is a tennis ball in a sock that is stuffed down the pants of someone called a Snitch Runner.

Honestly I’m not making this up.

The neutral Snitch Runner generally has the freedom of the college campus to roam around in and, I’m guessing here, has part of the sock protruding from their waistband, kind of like in a game of flag football.

You might think that running around with a tennis ball, stuffed in a sock and inserted into your pants sounds a little impromptu – The kind of thing that you do without much thought.

You’d be wrong. They’ve thought about this a lot. A whole lot.

There is a Intercollegiate Quidditch Association World Cup. In the 2007 edition there were 2,000 players across 100 teams, representing 22 US States and 4 countries. For the 2011 version, the 5th, three were 5 countries represented. For the record, Middlebury College out of Vermont are the reigning World Champs. Don’t all rush to enrol at the same time.

It might seem like I’m mocking these guys and gals. I’m not. I’m actually a little admiring of their dedication – Playing any sport is a commitment. Doing it with a completely impractical broom wedged between your legs while chasing someone who has a tennis ball-stuffed sock down their shorts elevates that pledge to a higher plain. If I had a wizardly hat I’d doff it.

1 prominent pro athlete who will surely be in support of Muggle Quidditch is Josh Beckett, the ace pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Josh has a particular dislike of snitches, golden or otherwise. See Josh was 1 of the Red Sox hurlers who liked to have a beer, some fried chicken and play a few rounds on the ol’ Xbox while his team was out trying to win ballgames. We’ve been over this ground before – You can read my views on it in a couple of previous posts, most recently in Soup #141. What’s new here is Josh’s unique take on the real problem:

‘Somebody made that stuff up, just like somebody made up that we were doing stuff … This is stupid. I don’t understand what the big deal is. Somebody was trying to save their own ass, and it probably cost a lot of people their asses. The snitching [expletive], that’s [expletive]. It’s not good.’

‘There’s two things with the clubhouse thing that I have a problem with: If I’m going to say something about the clubhouse, my name is going to be on it. The second thing is you never want to be remembered as that guy because that will follow wherever you go. It’s just mind-boggling to me.’

Yeah – Everyone’s gonna remember that damn snitch long after they’ve forgotten the Sox tanking in September of 2011.

Despite Josh’s obsession with snitches there’s not a whole lot of magic going on here. The Red Sox have now banned brews from the clubhouse. Terry Francona, who presided over a clubhouse with beer through 2011 described it as a ‘PR move’. Bobby Valentine reacted to that with:

‘I don’t really have a comment on that. That means that 20 teams were looking for PR and that’s why they’re making good decisions? I don’t have a comment on that.’

Which is a patented Bobby V non-comment that is a comment, including a slight numerical misstep (There are 19 teams with an alcohol ban). For the record I don’t think it’s all about PR either – I think it’s about a club leaving nothing to chance, looking for an edge. 19 teams is a majority and sometimes that’s a sign that it’s good sense, regardless of whether it took a snitch to sing to bring it to light.

There’s a compromise solution though for Josh and it can be found in the world of Muggle Quidditch. Apparently it’s common to find the iconic Butterbeer, a favourite of students at Hogwarts, at Quidditch tournaments. It’s beer but it’s not alcoholic and I reckon as long as the clubhouse lads promise to bring it down to the bench to watch their team play Bobby V will let it pass.

Just to be on the safe side though they might want to wander down with a broomstick between their legs.

And The Grass It Was A Ticking

  1. LOL.. its a bit odd with the broomstick between their legs.. But i guess its more original?

    • Thanks for stopping by – By the looks of your work I should be deferring to you on matters relating to Quidditch – Hope I haven’t got anything too wrong.

      With regard Muggle Quidditch, yep it’s the brooms that are a bit out of place. Without them the game seems kind of a handball/lacrosse kind of thing – Fast, physical and intense. Throw in a broomstick between the legs and it just looks odd – discordant even. That said, kudos to them for being authentic – There’s a lot of mainstream sports that probably looked a whole lot weirder when they started out.

  2. Loved the observation about magic happening…”no wizards required.” As for Bobby V, it really is all about him. I was stunned the Sox hired him and remain so. Never saw what others apparently see in him during his career…which I might add ended some time ago. Heck, his time as an “analyst” would make you think he was an expert in anything other than baseball. Had I assumed the role of Red Sox Manager, I would have made it a point to change absolutely nothing until after the season started and allowed the players the opportunity to “clean up the mess” they left from last year, showing responsibility for projecting a better image and putting forth a better product. I would have observed…then managed. For him to bring “alcohol” back into the picture at the very start of spring training was just a chance for him to strut his stuff. IMHO if they win this year, it will be in spite of him…not because of him. Or, perhaps…magic.

    • I’m starting to think that the Bobby V managerial modus operandi is to just throw out so many ideas that some of them are bound to be winners such that you don’t remember the kooky stuff. The press conerences that I’ve seen seem to involve lots of nodding in agreement from the listeners with frequent ‘Did he just say that?’ moments thrown in for fun. The stuff around starters practicing laying down a bunt – Good idea. Arcing up because Tito made an innocuous comment – Not a good idea. Making the team travel together on a bus to spring games – Good idea. Taking aim at Derek Jeter for a successful play in 2001 – Why would you bring that up?

      It’s 1000 monkeys sitting at typewriters stuff. I’m torn between liking the guy and wanting him to just shut up. It’s fatiguing just thinking about it and I’m worried you might be right about the season ahead.

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