Quidditch name is now quadball to censure JK Rowling over trans rights

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Quidditch name is now quadball to censure JK Rowling over trans rights

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LONDON – A sport invented by British author JK Rowling in her hugely popular Harry Potter series – in which witches and wizards fly on broomsticks and try to score goals – is being renamed.

The fictional game has been a true Muggle sensation for more than a decade and is played worldwide as a fast-paced, mixed-gender contact sport.

As part of an effort to distance the sport from its creator, who has sparked controversy over her views on transgender issues, the International Quidditch Association (IQA) announced that the sport will now be known as quadball.

“This is an important moment in the history of our sport,” Chris Lau, chairman of the IQA Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “We are confident in this move and look forward to all the new opportunities that Quadball will bring.”

The global body said one of the main reasons for the name change was that Rowling “is coming under increasing scrutiny for her anti-trans positions.” It listed LGBTQ advocacy groups who had criticized the author, as well as leads who appeared in the hugely popular Harry Potter films who also criticized her views.

The IQA said a second reason for the name change is trademarks and licensing. The brand for “Quidditch” is owned by entertainment company Warner Bros., and organizers want to use the Quadball brand to “build the game into a mainstay of organized sport.”

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Rowling, 56, fueled a social media storm after sharing her opinions on Twitter and later writing a lengthy personal essay on transgender issues, leading many in the LGBTQ community to accuse her of being transphobic. Rowling has said that she supports trans rights and is a long-time donor to LGBTQ charities, but that she doesn’t believe in “wiping out” the concept of biological gender.

She hasn’t publicly commented on the name change, but earlier this month she did tweeted: “Like many women on the left, I despair that so many self-proclaimed liberals turn a blind eye to the naked misogyny of the gender identity movement and the threat it poses to the rights of women and girls.” Rowling, the early Couldn’t be reached immediately for comment Wednesday, adding: “I believe that women are vulnerable to certain harms and have specific needs and that feminism is necessary to secure and protect our rights.”

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Actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – who played the trio of best friends Harry, Hermione and Ron on the storied Hogwarts school set – have all publicly distanced themselves from Rowling’s comments and said they stand by the trans community.

The proposal to change the sport’s name was first made in March, and thousands of players around the world were polled about the new name, the IQA said, before settling on quadball – which affected both the number of balls as well as refers to the number of positions used in sports.

Quidditch flew off the page and was adapted for the real field in 2005 when it was first played at Middlebury College in Vermont. The rules were gradually codified and the sport took off in 2007.

It now has nearly 600 teams in 40 countries, the IQA said, and is often televised and televised online.

Seven players on each team – including Chasers, Thugs, and a Seeker (Harry Potter’s own position) – try to kick the Quaffle Ball through the opponent’s hoops. Instead of flying, players run with spare brooms between their legs while jostling, catching, defending, and attacking to score points and win.

“The broom brings a level of skill and complexity to the sport through a handicap that works in the same way as in rugby you have to pass a ball backwards or just kick the ball,” according to QuidditchUK, the sport’s governing body.

The sport is “unique as the only full-contact mixed-gender sport in the world, particularly for those who identify with the trans or non-binary communities,” its website states. “We celebrate this inclusion of people from the LGBTQ+ communities and encourage everyone from all backgrounds to take part in our sport.”

Major League Quidditch, a league in the United States and Canada, and US Quidditch, the sport’s governing body in the United States, are also involved in the name change.

“Quadball is not just a new name, it is a symbol of a future for the sport without restrictions,” the founders of Major League Quidditch wrote in a letter posted online Tuesday. “We want to make sport what it wants to be: something for everyone.”

Major League Quidditch said it “didn’t take this name change lightly” and expects to revamp the franchise by the fall and continue with the branding changes before the end of the year. The sport’s name change “opens up unprecedented opportunities for growth, exposure and partnerships,” the group added.

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In the UK, QuidditchUK said it fully supports the rebrand, calling it a “great moment in the development of our sport”.

“The name change demonstrates a firm stance towards our trans players and members, gives us a firmer legal footing, and opens up greater opportunities for funding and outside partners,” its website reads. The Quidditch renaming will continue this year and players should also expect the names of the balls to be changed as part of the revamp. The Snitch’s name – a magical golden ball in the books and a role played by a person in the game – will also be changed.

Rowling’s Harry Potter books, first published in 1997, have become a bedtime staple for many children and have become a global phenomenon with movies, theme parks and merchandise.

The stories follow the orphaned wizard Harry who, along with his classmates, tries to save the magical world from archenemy Voldemort. The extremely popular books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 80 languages.

The next international Quidditch tournament is this weekend in Limerick, Ireland, the IQA said, and will feature teams from Europe, Australia and Hong Kong.

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