Growing up, I was never a very athletic child. I wasn’t terribly weak or unbearably slow, I just preferred to read instead of playing sports. Because of this, I only really knew about sports what I had read, and I read mostly fiction. So here we go: everything I know about sports from reading fantasy books.
1) A Hobbit invented golf
“…Old Took’s great-grand-uncle Bullroarer, [was] so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”
–The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
2) The Chasers, Keepers, and Beaters of a Quidditch team are basically irrelevant
“‘Now, the last member of the team is the Seeker. This is the Golden Snitch, and it’s the most important ball of the lot. It’s very hard to catch because it’s so fast and difficult to see. It’s the Seeker’s job to catch it. You’ve got to weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters, Bludgers, and Quaffle to get it before the other team’s Seeker, because whichever Seeker catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty points, so they nearly always win.’”
–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
3) The bears have the right to provide one Marshal of the Lists in any single combat (even should the bear not be a particularly dignified one)
‘“Yes,” said the Bear. “But it was always a right of the bears to supply one marshal of the lists.”
“Don’t let him,” whispered Trumpkin to Peter. “He’s a good creature, but he’ll shame us all. He’ll go to sleep and he will suck his paws. In front of the enemy too.”
“I can’t help that,” said Peter. “Because he’s quite right. The Bears had that privilege. I can’t imagine how it has been remembered all these years, when so many other things have been forgotten.”
“Please, your Majesty,” said the Bear.
“It is your right,” said Peter. “And you shall be one of the marshals. But you must remember not to suck your paws.”
“Of course not,” said the Bear in a very shocked voice.
“Why, you’re doing it this minute!” bellowed Trumpkin.
The Bear whipped his paw out of his mouth and pretended he hadn’t heard.”
–Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
4) Croquet is one of the most difficult and frustrating games to play (even worse than football)
“Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.
The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo: she succeeded in getting its body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, with its legs hanging down, but generally, just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it WOULD twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled expression that she could not help bursting out laughing: and when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself, and was in the act of crawling away: besides all this, there was generally a ridge or furrow in the way wherever she wanted to send the hedgehog to, and, as the doubled-up soldiers were always getting up and walking off to other parts of the ground, Alice soon came to the conclusion that it was a very difficult game indeed.”
–Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
5) Killing and/or maiming is NOT ALLOWED in Capture the Flag (or no dessert!)
“One of [Clarisse’s] cabinmates slashed his sword across my arm, leaving a good-size cut.
Seeing my own blood made me dizzy- warm and cold at the same time.
“No maiming,” I managed to say.
“Oops,” the guy said. “Guess I lost my dessert privilege.”’
–The Lighting Thief by Rick Riordan
So there you have it: an entirely serious list detailing the ins and outs of various sports through fantasy books. I’ve become a bit of an expert over the past years, really, so if you ever have any sports-related questions, don’t hesitate to ask. (Just kidding. Definitely hesitate.)