Quidditch players from across the globe are ready to deliver a bludger to the name of the sport they so deeply love, thanks in part to You-Know-Who. No, not Voldemort, but J.K. Rowling, a woman now known for needlessly expressing transphobic views who created the sport for her Harry Potter book series.
Since the release of the books and movies, fans from all over the world have adapted the fictional game, which is played in the air on flying broomsticks, into a real-life, competitive, sport. There have been professional leagues for years now, and in recent days, several of those have come together to begin to officially change the name of the sport in order to disassociate with Rowling and Warner Bros., which owns the Harry Potter copyright.
“As the game has grown, the name ‘quidditch,’ which is trademarked by Warner Bros., has limited the sport’s expansion, including but not limited to sponsorship and broadcast opportunities. Both leagues expect that this name change will allow for new and exciting developments for our players, fans and volunteers as the sport continues to grow,” U.S. Quidditch and Major League Quidditch said in a joint statement obtained by Variety. A new name will be decided upon based on a series of surveys created by the leagues—as well as the U.K.-based association, U.K. Quidditch —in the coming months.
While the statement leads with the legal issues of the sport being associated with corporate-controlled intellectual property, the statement also made clear there was another reason to distance the sport from the fiction that originally inspired it. “Additionally, 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 continued. “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. 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.”
It certainly is. Fans began to lose faith in Rowling back in 2017 when, despite damming allegations of abuse against Johnny Depp, she backed the actor who was then starring in her Fantastic Beasts series. (He was later replaced for the third film by Mads Mikkelsen.) Things took a huge turn a few years later, though, when Rowling began (and continued to) make it publicly clear she held unabashed transphobic views and was infuriatingly stubborn about it. It’s a truth that has continued in the public eye—up to and including last week. Along the way, Rowling’s leading men much such as Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne have condemned her actions, while Warner Bros. has remained unconvincingly obtuse as it continues to mine the Harry Potter franchise for all its worth.
UK Quidditch added to the sentiment of its fellow organizations with a statement of its own. “Distancing ourselves from J.K Rowling will cement the sport and community as the inclusive space it already is. Since our inception the inclusion of all persons, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, or background has been a cornerstone of our sport,” the statement says. “We cannot continue to call ourselves quidditch and be associated with J.K Rowling while she continues to make damaging and hateful comments against the many transgender athletes, staff and volunteers who call this sporting community home.”
In response to these reports, Variety obtained a statement from Rowling’s representation: “The Quidditch Premier League, U.S. Quidditch and Major League Quidditch have never been endorsed or licensed by J.K. Rowling,” which, of course, is also at the center of the problem here. Rowling may be saying good riddance, but hopefully, her dismissiveness is enough for all these organizations to cut their ties once and for all.
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