Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Game fixing in Quidditch

There's been a lot written about game-fixing in basketball lately, but not much about an obvious game fixing episode in World Cup Quidditch.

Quidditch is played on flying broomsticks by two opposing teams of seven players. There are two ways to score. A goal counts as 10 points, and is achieved by putting a soccer-ball sized "quaffle" through the other team's goal hoop. Meanwhile, a magical golden ball with wings, called the "snitch," flies throughout the area of play, trying to elude the players. Catching it scores 150 points, and ends the game.

In Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts, the Quidditch World Cup pits Ireland against Bulgaria. Ireland takes a commanding 170-10 point lead. Then, Bulgaria's Viktor Krum catches the snitch, ending the match.
Ireland wins, 170-160.

Why did Krum throw the game by catching the snitch? According to Potter, "he knew they were never going to catch up ... he wanted to end it on his terms."

Well, that's kind of weird, isn't it? Suppose the Patriots were losing by four points in the Super Bowl with one second left, and decided to kick a field goal. Bill Belichick would be fired, then probably indicted.

It should also be noted that Fred and George Weasley, brothers of Harry Potter's best friend Ron, had placed a substantial bet on exactly this series of events – Viktor Krum deliberately throwing the World Cup of Quidditch by catching the snitch to lose. They collected on their wager, at undisclosed odds.

Apparently there were no repercussions. Either Quidditch is the wizarding equivalent of WWE, or, more likely, J. K. Rowling isn't much of a sports fan.

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