The fictional sport of quidditch rose to international fame in the Harry Potter franchise of books and blockbuster movies, but both the U.S. national governing body and the major sports league of its real-life muggle namesake will be changing the name of their game in part to distance their league and players from controversial series author JK Rowling.
“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,” Amanda Dallas, MLQ commissioner, said in a statement.
While there were many reasons for the name change, officials were not shy about citing the transphobic rhetoric from Rowling on social media as a key factor in their decision.
“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,” read the joint statement. “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.”
USQ executive director Mary Kimball said the decision went beyond Rowling’s controversial rhetoric, however.
“I believe 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,” Kimball said in a statement, citing potential “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” as key drivers of the name change.
While the league may want to change its name, they definitely want to maintain a bridge to its literary origins.
“Although we plan to pursue this name change, we intend to keep the ‘Q’ in our name because we do not want to completely break from our humble beginnings, nor the reputation we have worked hard to build with fans, players, volunteers, and other stakeholders,” MLQ’s creative and marketing director Mike Iadevaia said in a statement.
Over the past few years, Rowling has made several controversial transphobic statements on social media that have enraged both her fans and the LGBTQ+ community. Stars of the film adaptions of her beloved books who have spoken against her include Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Katherine Waterston.