At the North-East U.S. Quidditch Regional Finals last month, the Montpelier (VT) Marauders set off an international controversy by fielding 7 players who, to look at them, all seemed to be male, each one claiming to be of a different ‘gender’.
“A little strange,” you might think, “but hardly major sports news, even for quidditch fans.” Strange is definitely the right word, especially when you see that the ‘genders’ listed are ‘doughnut’, ‘walrus’, ‘sdfh’, ‘panache’, ‘reddish-green’, ‘neutrum’, and ‘The Karo-Cann Defence’. However, this choice of players is actually a very big deal for quidditch because of the sport’s ‘gender rule’, also known as the ‘two minimum rule’ and the ‘four maximum rule’.
Let’s back up, for the sake of those of our readers who are not quidditch enthusiasts: Quidditch, also known as ‘Muggle Quidditch’, to distinguish it from the version of the game which requires enchanted broomsticks and thick round glasses held together by a piece of tape, was invented in 2005, and differs from the magical version of the game by not beginning with a capital letter. One rule unique to quidditch—as opposed to Quidditch—is the gender rule, which, according to the US Quidditch Rulebook (8th edition, 2nd version) runs as follows:
A quidditch game allows each team to have a maximum of four
players, not including the seeker, who identify as the same gender
in active play on the field at the same time. The gender that a
player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender,
which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex. This is
commonly referred to as the “four maximum” rule.1
By fielding players identifying as seven different genders, the Marauders obviously complied with the rule. However, the opposing—and losing—team, the Portland (ME) Possums, lodged an objection with the International Quidditch Association immediately after the game, claiming that, “while the Marauders did, it would seem, satisfy the gender rule as written, they used the rule to gain an unfair advantage.”
There are, as yet, no indications of what action, if any, the IQA will take in response to this seeming abuse.
“Muggle Quidditch Game in Vancouver,” by Anton Bielousov CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.