Harry Potter’s favorite sport, quidditch, is to receive a new name in the US, in part because its leaders are critical of the controversial views of the fictional wizard’s creator JK Rowling, which the US leagues have called “anti-trans”.
Two leagues that operate the sport in the US also cite trademark issues for their decision for the rebranding.
The term “quidditch” – a game played by teams on broomsticks chasing balls of various sizes called quaffles, bludgers and the golden snitch – is trademarked by Warner Bros, the studios that brought Rowling’s blockbuster book series to the big screen.
The leagues say they will “conduct a series of surveys over the next few months to guide a decision on the new name”.
“Quidditch is at a turning point. 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,” Mary Kimball, executive director of US Quidditch, said in a statement.
In its announcement, coordinated with rival Major League Quidditch, the organization points the finger at what it sees as the author’s intolerance of gender-equality issues.
“The leagues are hoping a name change can help them continue to distance themselves from the works of JK Rowling, who has increasingly come under scrutiny for her anti-trans positions in recent years,” the statement says.
Rowling’s stance on diversity and transgender issues has been analysed since at least June 2020, when the 56-year-old author posted a series of tweets appearing to take aim at transgender activism.
After a backlash, Rowling posted a lengthy explanation of her views in an essay on her website, which also revealed she had suffered from sexual and domestic abuse in her 20s. Rowling said: “I know and love trans people but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.”
The essay prompted further reaction. Later that month, four authors resigned from Rowling’s literary agency, accusing it of refusing to issue a public statement in support of transgender rights.
A spokesperson from Rowling’s agency, the Blair Partnership, said: “The Quidditch Premier League, US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch have never been endorsed or licensed by JK Rowling.”
The sport of quidditch has grown in popularity since it was invented in the Harry Potter novels, and is played in numerous countries under the jurisdiction of the International Quidditch Association.
In contrast to the airborne game played by Potter and his friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, ground-based quidditch involves two teams of seven players clutching broomsticks and chasing the balls around a hockey-sized field.
Previously touted as a possible Olympic sport, quidditch teams are mixed. The leagues’ statement says: “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.”