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Real-life Quidditch leagues plan rebranding to distance sport from J.K. Rowling’s transphobia

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Both US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch will seek a new name for the sport

Harry Potter flying on a broom in his quidditch uniform Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Two real-life Quidditch organizations are working to change the name of the sport, seeking to escape the limitations imposed by Warner Bros.’ trademark on the term and to distance themselves from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s “anti-trans positions,” the organizations announced Wednesday.

“Our sport has developed a reputation as one of the most progressive sports in the world on gender equality and inclusivity, in part thanks to its gender maximum rule, which stipulates that a team may not have more than four players of the same gender on the field at a time,” US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch said in a joint news release. “Both organizations feel it is imperative to live up to this reputation in all aspects of their operations and believe this move is a step in that direction.”

While US Quidditch will undergo a complete rebrand, Major League Quidditch will undergo smaller changes in its brand style and website. Both organizations intend to keep their acronyms, suggesting that the new name for the sport currently known as Quidditch may still start with the letter Q. “The leagues will conduct a series of surveys over the next few months to guide a decision regarding the new name,” they said.

In the Harry Potter books and movies, Quidditch is played on flying broomsticks with enchanted balls. Of course, some modifications are needed for real life: Players run around with brooms between their legs while throwing volleyballs, dodging dodgeballs, and chasing a yellow-dressed runner around the field. Quidditch as a real-life sport got its start in 2005, on the campus of Middlebury College, and has grown into a sport that is today played in 39 countries. US Quidditch, the sport’s governing body in the United States, oversees competition featuring an average of 150 teams and 3,500 players in each season. Major League Quidditch was created in 2015 and features 15 franchises located in the U.S. and Canada.

Rowling’s repeated transphobic comments over the past few years have alienated many Harry Potter fans and caused issues for new projects in the Wizarding World franchise. When Warner Bros. Games announced a new Harry Potter video game, Hogwarts Legacy, in September 2020, the publisher felt it necessary to clarify in an FAQ that Rowling was “not directly involved in the creation of the game.” US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch are not the only Harry Potter-inspired groups to rebrand in light of Rowling’s transphobia. In June, international nonprofit activist organization The Harry Potter Alliance rebranded to Fandom Forward, in part due to Rowling’s stances.