The 2016 US Quidditch Cup tournament
Boise will add a major league team to its sports offerings in 2018, but unless you’re a fan of the Harry Potter universe, the game will likely be a bit of a head-scratcher.
Major League Quidditch announced last week its Phoenix team will relocate to Boise for the 2018 season. The team will be called the Boise Grays, “named after the gray wolves reintroduced to Idaho in the 1990s,” according to an MLQ press release.
“We see that Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the country, and we’re excited to tap into a sports market that we feel is young. We’re excited to be in Idaho,” said MLQ spokesman Jack McGovern.
McGovern said a venue for the team isn’t yet set in stone. Some teams play in one particular place for every match, while others host their matches in different locations. Often, teams will play at public parks or similar venues, McGovern explained. That’s all up to the team manager, a role that MLQ is still working to fill in Boise.
Two teams of seven players each “ride” a broomstick around a field the size of a hockey rink. At each end of the rink are three hoops, each a different height. Three “chasers” try pass a ball called a “quaffle” through the hoop to score their team 10 points, while a “keeper” guards each team’s set of hoops. As the chasers advance, they must dodge “bludgers” — dodgeballs — lobbed by the opposing team’s two “beaters.” The final player is the “seeker,” who must catch the “golden snitch” to end the game and earn a final 150 points. For wizards, the snitch is a tiny magical golden ball that flits around at high speeds. In the non-magic world, the snitch is a tennis ball inside a sock that hangs from the shorts of an impartial player that runs around the field.
Tryouts for the Boise Grays will begin in April, and they’re open to people of all ages and genders. The team will play against teams from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and San Francisco during the league’s season, which runs from early June to mid-August. Each team plays nine games in a regular season, facing off against the other three teams in its division in a three-game series.
Sixteen teams make up Major League Quidditch, 15 of them from the U.S. and one from Canada (though officials point out that more than 500 teams exist in 26 countries around the world).
The top three teams in each of four divisions will earn a spot in the 2018 MLQ Championship tournament in Madison, Wisconsin.
Though the sport may seem odd to some, it’s not the first time players have taken to their broomsticks in the Treasure Valley. Boise State University’s U.S. Quidditch team, the Abraxans, started in 2012 and even qualified for the U.S. Quidditch Cup in 2016.
“We are excited to welcome the Boise quidditch community into MLQ,” said Ethan Sturm, MLQ co-founder and co-commissioner, in the press release. “The drive and dedication they have demonstrated to maintain a thriving group of players and organizers in an area of the country with few other quidditch hubs leaves us confident that they will be a strong addition to our league.”