ALEX COHEN, host:
On a recent Sunday, over 100 students from all over North America gathered for the real-life championship of a fictional sport. Independent Producer Sean Hurley has this story from the 2008 College Quidditch World Cup.
(Soundbite of bells ringing)
SEAN HURLEY: They appeared in 1998, not long after the first book came out, 11 or 12-year-old boys with messy hair and a penchant for round, dark glasses, the girls wearing scarlet and gold scarves. Well, that first wave of Harry Potter readers is about to graduate college.
(Soundbite of crowd chanting)
Mr. ALEX BENEPE (Master of Ceremonies, 2008 College Quidditch World Cup): Welcome to the 2008 College Quidditch World Cup.
(Soundbite of clapping and cheering)
HURLEY: That's Alex Benepe, a senior at Vermont's Middlebury College and master of ceremonies for this year's College Quidditch World Cup. If Alex Benepe is the sport's prime mover, it was his friend, Xander Manshel, who had the initial idea.
Mr. XANDER MANSHEL (Creator, Muggle Quidditch): We were sitting there at lunch, and we're trying to figure out, what are we going to do next with our Sunday afternoons? And so, all of a sudden, the idea pops into my head, Quidditch! And I say, Quidditch!
Mr. BENEPE: Players' brooms down. Eyes closed. And the sticks rainy dotson(ph) is loose!
HURLEY: A figure in a glaring yellow outfit races off the field and disappears behind Battell Hall.
Mr. BENEPE: Brooms up! And they're off...
HURLEY: The players lift their brooms from the muddy turf, lock them between their thighs, and then, let us just say for the purposes of going with the moment, they take flight.
Mr. BENEPE: Liz Terenteen(ph) has got the quaffle. She's looking for a pass, clot, headed down field, bludgeons.
Unidentified Announcer: If the broom comes out from between the legs of the player they will plummet to the ground.
HURLEY: The brooms here act as a kind of equalizer. They make this a sport that anyone can play, big or small, slow or fast, male or female.
Mr. BENEPE: Score, (unintelligible) college! (Unintelligible)
HURLEY: While the spirit of Harry Potter is present, there are owls here and minstrel music, it's first and foremost a sport and competition. Many of the players haven't even read the books. They just like the game.
Mr. BENEPE: We've got a scuffle there at mid field. Man, it's getting violent out there.
Ms. SUSAN KELLY: Oh my gosh, it's very rough. I'm afraid somebody's going to get hurt, though. I mean that's a really rough game.
HURLEY: That's Susan Kelly(ph). She drove over from Glens Falls, New York to watch her son play.
How did your son do so far?
Ms. KELLY: Well, he hasn't played. He's going to play next. He's a badger. A badger, is that what they call it? What do they call it?
HURLEY: I think it's a bludger.
Ms. KELLY: A bludger.
Mr. BENEPE: We got the bludgers flying. The quaffle's flying. The seekers flying.
(Soundbite of thud)
Mr. BENEPE: Oh! A fall on the bench there. Repairo.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HURLEY: This will be Alex Benepe's last College Quidditch World Cup. But Alex isn't sure he can put his broom away.
Mr. BENEPE: I mean, I really love this. I don't know if I'm ready to stop doing this. I feel like this could keep on going, and I would love to be a part of it. And it's something more than anything else I'd ever done that really makes me feel good at the end of the day, and I think that's not something that I should ignore.
Ladies and gentlemen, the final score. Middlebury 130, Vassar...
(Soundbite of cheering)
HURLEY: After Middlebury defeats Vassar to claim this year's world cup, 100 filthy Quidditch players rally on the muddy field and hoist Alex Benepe aloft. In a top hat and long-tailed tuxedo, he drives his fist toward the sky.
Mr. BENEPE: We end every day by screaming Quidditch as long and as loud as you can.
(Soundbite of screaming)
HURLEY: For NPR News, I'm Sean Hurley.
(Soundbite of music)
COHEN: You can see photos of the Quidditch World Cup at npr.org.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Day to Day is a production of NPR News with contributions from slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.
COHEN: I'm Alex Cohen.
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