The 3rd Annual Big Sweep was held on October 27, 2012 at Memorial Glade. Cal hosted Stanford for 6 sets of good ol' fashioned Quidditch, based on the wizarding sport described in the Harry Potter books and films. This was my first experience with seeing Muggle Quidditch in any form. So what does it look like? How does it play? How did Cal do? Read on to find out!
If you are unfamiliar with Quidditch in either muggle or wizard form, I'll first direct you to Oliver Wood's explanation of Quidditch to Harry Potter in the 1st film. As wikipedia explains, the rules of Muggle quidditch are about the same as they are in the wizarding world, but with adaptations to account for the lack of magic. 3 Chasers try to score goals through the 3 hoops with a quaffle, or for muggles, a volleyball. The Keeper of course tries to prevent goals from being scored. The 2 Beaters try to temporarily knock the chasers out of the game with bludgers, aka, dodgeballs. The Seeker tries to catch the Snitch, which is a tennis ball in a sock tied to the back of a neutral player, the Snitch Runner. Brooms are, of course, essential, and must be carried between a player's legs at all times. I don't know what the punishment for dropping a broom is, but I imagine it involves a Dementor's Kiss. I didn't have time to read the entire rule book:
The color of the headband indicates the position of the player:
White - Chaser
Green - Keeper
Black - Beater
Yellow (not pictured) - Seeker
In action, Quidditch (to my untrained eye) plays mostly like soccer with your hands (or lacrosse without sticks?) with an added dodgeball element. Chasers and Seekers provide the soccer part by trying to score goals through any of the three goal posts. Each goal is worth 10 points. Interestingly, goals can be scored from either side of the goal posts.
Beaters provide the dodgeball aspect of the game. When a player (usually a Chaser) is hit with a bludger by a Beater, the Chaser has to drop the quaffle (if carrying it) and run back and touch his/her goalpost. Beaters are thus essential to defense. There are 3 bludgers in the game and, between both teams, 4 Beaters, so controlling 2 out of the 3 bludgers is essential to the match. In the picture below, the Stanford Chaser is trying to score with the quaffle (yellow and white volleyball) but is hit by both the green and red bludgers.
Last but not least is the Seeker, aka Harry Potter's position. In Quidditch, the Seeker provides the only way of ending a match: catching the Snitch. In Muggle Quidditch, catching the Snitch only nets a team 30 points, as opposed to the 150 it gets in the wizarding world. Because of this, catching the Snitch is primarily a means to end the game and not the instawin it often is depicted as in Harry Potter. Because the Snitch is tied to a Snitch Runner, reaching it is not always that difficult. However, actually grabbing the Snitch from the Snitch Runner often can be. In practice, trying to catch the Snitch is more wrestling than it is flag football, as the Snitch Runner will do anything he/she can to prevent the Seeker from actually grabbing the Snitch.
The Big Sweep
Of course, there's more to the Big Sweep than just Quidditch...
There are actually several different unofficial recipes for butterbeer, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties. The recipe that Cal served was pretty simple: vanilla ice cream, caramel, and cream soda. It was quite tasty and very refreshing. I couldn't ask for more on a warm October day, but I do regret forgetting to ask the friendly concessioneer what other butterbeer recipes she's tried and which was her favorite.
The Cal team also had bracelets and stickers featuring a nifty Cal-Hogwarts crest logo.
Unfortunately, the team was sold out of their totally awesome "Voldemort Went to Stanford" t-shirts, at least out of anything but the extremist of sizes. Aside from Quidditch matches, they also have been selling them on weekdays while tabling at Sproul. I actually took a long lunch break one day the week before to try to get one myself, but I still missed out. Them shirts sell like hotcakes! It's a really great tagline, if only because it appeals to even casual Harry Potter-fan Golden Bears.
And hey look, Cal and Stanford fans intermingling! I guess Quidditch is all about breaking barriers.
There was a good deal of publicity for the event. Cal.tv was there and filmed a report including an interview or two. As of this writing, I don't see anything on the cal.tv website.
Even Cal Band was there for the first couple matches! During the match, they played a a few measures of Fight for California whenever Cal scored. Between matches, they treated the audience to, among other songs, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' theme and a rendition of Call Me Maybe (after which one band member proclaimed "NEVER AGAIN!"). Needless to say, they were great.
It really was a gorgeous day. There were some nice crowds both huddled in the shade and reclining on the grass. I'm not sure how many people were just relaxing at the glade when the Quidditch match happened to come on, but there were plenty who stayed to enjoy all of the matches.
A Cal player even snuck away from the match to enjoy the view. I like the stripes on her broom.
And what was at stake today?
The water bottle is a little crude, but the snitch on top looks really nice! So was Cal ready to claim the snitch?
Here's Cal before a match:
And here's Stanford, looking like they've been stricken with a bad case of loser's lurgy.
Actually, both teams had their eyes closed/heads down to give the Snitch Runner a few moments to hide before the beginning of the match, lest the game end before any goals were scored.
There were actually 6 total matches played on the day of the Big Sweep. Stanford brought one team, but Cal actually has enough players to field 2 teams, so they split themselves up for tournament purposes (the first team is "Cal" and the second is "Golden Snitches"). Each of the three teams then played the other two teams twice.
Unfortunately, because I spent a lot of time trying to learn Quidditch (read: drinking butterbeer), I didn't catch enough of all the matches to provide an accurate summary of all the action. Instead, here are a few images from the day. Enjoy!
When it was all said and done, the results looked like:
Cal 150 - Stanford 30
Stanford 70 - Golden Snitches 30
Golden Snitches 0 - Cal 60
Cal 110 - Stanford 30
Stanford 80 - Golden Snitches 20
Golden Snitches 60 - Cal 120
The moral of the story? Cal won! How? I'm not really sure. The intricacies of Quidditch are still largely unknown to me. It seemed that Cal scored a lot of goals from "behind" the goal posts. In fact, it looked like the Cal offense often sent a Chaser behind the goal posts in order to retrieve the quaffle after a potential missed shot. This made for a lot of easy put-backs. I did not see Stanford successfully adapt to this strategy or repeat it themselves. Of course, I could be wrong; all of Quidditch is new to me and I had plenty of distractions, but Cal really did dominate throughout the day.
Cal won! It was a gorgeous day! I had a really fun time. Thanks to all the Quidditch players for putting everything together and participating! GO BEARS!