Officials in the real-life sport of Quidditch, modeled off the magical sport in the Harry Potter book series, unveiled its new name as “quadball” Tuesday in a move to separate the sport from the controversial views of author J. K. Rowling.
Two of the sport’s governing bodies, U.S. Quidditch and Major League Quidditch, said the change follows a survey of players and fans of the Harry Potter franchise, with the name referring to the number of positions on the team and the number of balls. The name change is expected to take place immediately for U.S. Quidditch, while Major League Quidditch will make the transition after the championships next month.
“In less than 20 years, our sport has grown from a few dozen college students in rural Vermont to a global phenomenon with thousands of players, semi-pro leagues and international championships,” Mary Kimball, executive director of U.S. Quadball, said in a press release. “Our organizations are committed to continuing to push quadball forward.”
The organizations announced a change in the sports name last December and said the decision was partly due to Rowling increasingly coming under scrutiny for “her anti-trans positions.”
The author attracted controversy for her statements about transgender people, such as mocking the use of the gender-neutral phrase “people who menstruate” and liking a tweet that called transgender women “men in dresses.” She subsequently said the “clumsy and middle-aged moment” when she liked that tweet occurred while conducting research for a novel. Rowling has also emphasized that she is strongly opposed to discrimination against transgender people but feels that biological sex is a real concept.
The author has been condemned by at least three Harry Potter movie stars over the years, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who play the films’ main trio. Rowling did not join in HBO Max’s 20-year anniversary special for the franchise. LGBT advocacy groups such as GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign have also condemned Rowling
“[Quidditch] developed a reputation as one of the most progressive sports in the world on gender equality and inclusivity,” the organizations said in December, according to NBC News. “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.”
The change was also due to Warner Bros. having the trademark on the name, limiting the sport’s broadcasting and sponsorship opportunities. Despite the limitations from the trademark, the sport now has nearly 600 teams in 40 countries worldwide despite only being established in Vermont in 2005, according to the press release.
One of the sport’s creators, Alex Benepe, praised the decision in December but acknowledged the risk when making major changes.
“I’ve been a strong advocate for making this move for a long time,” Benepe said. “The sport needs its own space without limits on its growth potential and changing the name is crucial to achieving that.”
The International Quidditch Association will also adopt the new name following the European championships this weekend, the organization confirmed in Tuesday’s press release.