17/04/2024

The USA National Team celebrates winning the 2018 World Cup. (Photo: Miguel Esparza/USA Quidditch)

US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch announced recently through a joint statement that both bodies were going to pursue a name change for the sport of Quidditch.

It will be if US Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) get their wish.

Both bodies announced recently through a joint statement they would be pursuing a name change for the sport of Quidditch. What was once the sport’s biggest appeal, is now one of its biggest hindrances at growth moving forward in their eyes.

This is because Quidditch is trademarked by Warner Bros. and as such, Quidditch worldwide is unable to seek out commercial exercises related to growth, such as sponsorships and broadcast deals because Quidditch is considered a transformative work.

The inability to undertake exercises like this has limited promotion of the sport, as well as revenue raising for things like equipment. It is one of the main barriers for entry to Quidditch, as it can get costly for new teams to invest in all the required equipment.

The Inner Sanctum had the opportunity to speak to Mary Kimball, the Executive Director of USQ, about the decision made by both USQ and MLQ. The Inner Sanctum has also been able to seek comment from Quidditch Australia. 

“This is something that’s been in the works for several months, if not longer,” Kimball said when asked why now is a good time to look at changing the sports name.

“Part of doing a project of this magnitude is that it takes a long time. It’s important that we get buy-in from the people who are affected by the decision, so being able to look at what our members, staff, and board of directors might think is important.

“The other part of it is where we are in the timeline of the sport’s growth. We’ve been around for over 15 years as a real-life sport. US Quidditch has been around for over 11 years. Prior to the pandemic, I believe we’ve reached the limit of what we can do with the current name of the sport.”

Seeker Harry Greenhouse dives in for a successful snitch catch. (Photo: Miguel Esparza/USA Quidditch)

The International Quidditch Association (IQA), which is the international governing body for the sport of Quidditch, said in a statement that there are currently no plans from the IQA at this time to change the name of Quidditch.

Any change would be done in partnership with the member National Governing Bodies (NGB), with considerable consultation from the broader community, and in line with the IQA constitution.

Quidditch Australia has stated that they intend as an NGB to work with the international community on any movements to change the name, but they are not currently engaged in the process.

The benefits of a name change far outweigh the negatives in the eyes of USQ.

“A name change would allow us to do things like get a PE curriculum published in schools nationwide, which would expose the sport to millions of children,” Kimball said.

“We can start to do more infrastructure building for our collegiate division teams, supporting conferences more and helping them do big recruitment pushes at their schools and making sure they’re set up for success.”

In addition to the potential commercial benefits, a name change would also be useful in helping to distance the sport from JK Rowling and the Harry Potter universe.

Quidditch Australia will consider all courses of action that promote a safe and inclusive community.

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Real-life Quidditch started in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe. Benepe is now a proponent of the name change.

“I’m thrilled that USQ and MLQ are moving in this direction,” Benepe said.

“Big changes like this don’t come without risk, but I’ve been a strong advocate for making this move for a long time. The sport needs its own space without limits on its growth potential and changing the name is crucial to achieving that.”

There is already a successful example in place for a name change for Quidditch to model itself off, being Ultimate, formerly known as Ultimate Frisbee.

Given the name Frisbee is trademarked, a name change was necessary so that Ultimate can do all the things that sports want to do without needing to work with another company, while still maintaining a unique identity that sets them apart from everyone else.

Seeker Harry Greenhouse and the USA team celebrate the successful snitch catch which won them the 2018 World Cup. (Photo: Miguel Esparza/USA Quidditch)

Some potential names put forward by USQ and MLQ include Quidball, Quadball, Quadraball, and Quidstrike. The one thing they all have in common is the letter Q. This was by design.

“For the US, we have brand recognisability with USQ and MLQ,” Kimball said.

“There’s also additional visibility with the IQA acronym for the International Quidditch Association. Keeping the Q name helps people with the marketing and potentially the legal front. It’s one less thing that has to be changed. It keeps our acronym unique in the huge world of sports in the United States.”

Quidditch Australia understands that while the letter Q would be beneficial in maintaining a unique identity, they are willing to consider other ideas.

USQ and MLQ are also prepared to go it alone with the name change if no other governing body wants to make the change.

“I don’t want the international community to feel rushed into this decision,” Kimball continued.

“There’s already a precedent there with football and soccer being the most obvious example. We’re making this decision in the US because it makes the most sense for us to be doing right now.”

Quidditch Australia’s current stance on the idea of two different names for the same sport is that it would not be beneficial from an Australian perspective to do so, and that as an NGB would work with the current Quidditch community to find a suitable change if there was strong support within Australia to make the change.

It is still unclear at this point exactly whether a simple name change to the sport would suffice to not run afoul of Warner Bros. trademarks, or whether it would need to go further, such as terminology changes and possibly changing the structure of the game itself.

Both USQ and MLQ have legal advice which will assist them with this process.

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