Quidditch leagues changing name of sport

Quidditch leagues will select a new name for the sport in order to ‘distance’ themselves from JK Rowling following controversy over her transgender views

  • Two Quidditch leagues are changing the name of the sport in response to Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s transgender views
  • The US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch released a joint statement announcing they will be conducting a survey for the new name
  • Both leagues are also changing the name as it is currently trademark by Warner Brothers Studios, which produces the Harry Potter film franchise
  • Rowling, 56, came under fire in summer 2020 after she posted a string of comments about biological sex, which led to backlash from the trans community
  • Fans of the series as well as actors from the films have since criticized Rowling for her views
  • Rowling is not due to appear in the upcoming Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special on HBO Max

A pair of Quidditch leagues announced on Wednesday that they will be changing the name of the ‘real-life’ version of the sport in order to ‘distance’ themselves from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for her statements about the transgender community.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the U.S. Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) organizations announced they will be changing the name of the sport following the controversy.

Both leagues are also creating a survey to vote on a name change.  

‘The leagues are hoping a name change can help them continue to distance themselves from the works of J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter book series, who has increasingly come under scrutiny for her anti-trans positions in recent years,’ the statement read.

The ‘fictional’ sport, featured in Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise, had inspired fans of the books and films to create their own version and organize leagues, minus the flying broomsticks.

Rowling, 56, initially came under fire in June 2020 after she had tweeted about biological sex, which led to backlash from the trans community. That and the subsequent transphobia row has since left her out of the upcoming 20th anniversary Harry Potter special that will air on HBO Max.

Two Quidditch leagues are changing the name of the sport following Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted about biological sex, leading to backlash from the trans community

Players from MLQ are seen playing a real-life version of the sport that normally requires the use of broomsticks

The leagues are also changing the name as it is trademarked by the Warner Brothers Studio who produces the Harry Potter film franchise

The fantasy sport was made famous after it was created by Rowling in the book series. The sport has been described as similar to soccer or hockey but with the use of flying broomsticks

The change also comes after the fact that the name of the sport has been trademarked by Warner Brothers Studios, which produces the Harry Potter franchise, and ‘has limited the sport’s expansion, including but not limited to sponsorship and broadcast opportunities.’

‘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,’ the statement continued. 

‘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.’ 

Both leagues made a joint statement announcing the name change on Wednesday

The fantasy sport had been adapted for real-life play in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont by Xander Marshall and Alex Benepe.

Benepe, who currently works as the Director of Leagues for Sky Zone Sports, supported the decision for the name change.

‘I’m thrilled that USQ and MLQ are moving in this direction,’ Benepe said in the statement.

‘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.’

A series of tweets posted by Rowling which had featured her views on transgender people

Officials from both leagues also released their own comments on the name change.

‘For the last year or so, both leagues have been quietly collecting research to prepare for the move and been in extensive discussions with each other and trademark lawyers regarding how we can work together to make the name change as seamless as possible,’ MLQ Commissioner Amanda Dallas said. 

‘I believe quidditch is at a turning point,” USQ Executive Director Mary Kimball also commented. 

‘We can continue the status quo and stay relatively small, or we can make big moves and really propel this sport forward into its next phase. 

‘Renaming the sport opens up so many more revenue opportunities for both organizations, which is crucial to expansion.’

MLQ and USQ also added that the survey process should take until the end of January in which they will decide the names.

The leagues will keep their original acronyms with the name of the new sport still donning the original ‘Q.’ 

Both companies will also undergo branding developments with MLQ changing the brand’s style and website.

‘For a decade, I’ve watched USQ grow,’ USQ PR & Marketing Manager Fabiana Echeverria said. ‘The new name and branding will bring US Quidditch into its next phase while advancing our goal of growing a sport that is supportive and inclusive of everyone.

‘This is an exciting time for the sport and I can’t wait to see where it takes us!’

 The first official poster for the Harry Potter reunion special has been released, featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint

The three protagonists are seen sitting in the set of the Gryffindor common room after they first appeared in Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001 

Radcliffe had played the title character of Harry Potter with Grint and Watson playing his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger 

The controversy surrounding Rowling began in June 2020 when she took to Twitter to criticize an opinion piece that used the term ‘people who menstruate’ instead of women.

‘I’m sure there used to be a word for these people,’ she tweeted at the time. ‘Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’

She then continued with a thread discussing biological sex.

‘If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,’ she claimed. ‘If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.

‘I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.’

Rowling later clarified that she respects ‘every trans person’s rights to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,’ and went on to say she would march ‘if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans.

‘At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female,’ Rowling said, The Associated Press reported at the time. 

‘I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.’

Then, in September 2020, she faced renewed calls of transphobia after it was revealed the the villain in her latest book, Troubled Blood – written under Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Galbraith – is a male serial killer who dresses as a woman to slay his victims. 

An early review of the 900-page book by The Daily Telegraph – in which the critic states the book’s ‘moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress’ – sparked immediate backlash online.  

Fans of the franchise have since slammed Rowling for her comments as well as actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne have since spoken out.  

In March, Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the beloved film series admitted that he felt he needed to stand up for transgender people following Rowling’s remarks.  

He said that  while he was ‘not an authority’ on the debate, he felt he had a responsibility to speak out in support of the trans community as ‘silence is louder’.

In an interview with Esquire, he said: ‘I am hugely grateful [for] everything that she’s done. I think that she’s extremely talented, and I mean, clearly, her works are genius.’

‘But yeah, I think also you can have huge respect for someone and still disagree with things like that…

‘Sometimes silence is even louder. I felt like I had to because I think it was important to. I mean, I don’t want to talk about all that… Generally, I’m not an authority on the subject. 

‘Just out of kindness, and just respecting people. I think it’s a valuable group that I think needs standing up for.’ 

Rowling has been left out of promotional materials for the upcoming Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts which is set to premiere on HBO Max on January 1, 2022.   

The author however will be featured in archival footage during the special.  

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