Ditching Quidditch in Favor of Quadball, Sport Moves Forward | Sports Destination Management

Ditching Quidditch in Favor of Quadball, Sport Moves Forward

Jul 29, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

So long, Harry Potter. It’s been…well, magical.

The sport of quidditch is officially changing its name to quadball, a decision that will affect not just US Quidditch (or USQ, now to be known as US Quadball) but the organizations formerly known as Major League Quidditch (MLQ) and the International Quidditch Association (IQA).

The quest for a new name, which began late in 2021, took into consideration the results of surveys and discussions, and was brought on in no small part by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s less-than-liberal views on trans athletes. (Worth noting: The sport has a Rowling’s anti-trans positions have brought her under fire with LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign as well as the three lead actors in the Harry Potter film series).

The logo for USQ includes the image of a player riding a broomstick, against a spectrum-, or rainbow-patterned, background.

Additionally, the word, quidditch, had legal ramifications.  It is no secret – even among those who have not read the books – that J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter book series, as well as her publishers, are vigilant about protecting the intellectual property rights of the work. US Quidditch for example, carries disclaimer language on each page of its website:

USQ and its activities are not licensed by, sponsored by or associated with Warner Bros., J.K. Rowling, or their affiliates. "Quidditch", "Harry Potter", and all related names, characters and indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. - Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K. Rowling. (Note: MLQ also carries similar verbiage).

“I believe quidditch is at a turning point,” said USQ Executive Director Mary Kimball in the announcement carried on the organization’s website when USQ began the discernment process regarding finding a new name. “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. Through joint ownership of this new trademark, USQ and MLQ will be able to pursue sponsorships, broadcasting on major TV networks and other projects that'll address some of the biggest barriers to playing the sport, like access to equipment,”

This was not a decision that was made in haste, either, according to the website information.

“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,” read a quote from MLQ Commissioner Amanda Dallas in the same announcement.

Quidditch changes name to quadballIn fact, IPR was such a concern of Rowling and her publishers that utmost secrecy surrounded the books prior to their release and lawsuits ensued when reviewers violated an embargo and published their information earlier than the official embargo date. (It is an unrelated example but it should provide an idea of how strict the rules are – including those pertaining to the use of the name of the sport).

The new name allows the sport to move forward, dissociating itself from its Harry Potter roots – although the disclaimer remains on the USQ website.

USQ and MLQ will own the trademark for the term, quadball, in the United States.

“Bringing full creative control of the name of our sport to the vibrant community of players and fans that has grown and sustained it will allow our organizations to take the next step,” said Dallas. “We are now able to pursue the kinds of opportunities that our community has dreamed about for years.”

However, aspects of the game (player positions like beaters, snitches and seekers, and balls known as bludgers and quaffles, for example) are still very much the same as in the Harry Potter books. USQ and MLQ have not yet responded to questions from SDM about whether these terms will change as well.

MLQ will adopt the new name upon completion of the 2022 MLQ Championship in Howard County, Maryland on Aug. 20-22. USQ is adopting the new name effective immediately. The IQA European Games 2022 will take place in Limerick, Ireland on July 23-24. The event will feature 20 teams from Europe, Australia and Hong Kong and can be followed live.

But, as USQ points out, name changes in sports are not uncommon. One of the more high-profile examples is Ultimate, which had previously been known as Ultimate Frisbee; the sport dropped the Frisbee aspect because it indicated a piece of equipment that is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company. Ditto for disc golf, once known as Frisbee golf. (Many disc sports are now governed by the World Flying Disc Federation, or in the case of disc golf, by the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) with nary a mention of the old F-name anywhere.

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