Though he has big goals for the sport, Benepe seems to understand the challenge of having a purely volunteer-based organization, and for that matter, of being at the helm of an organization that has yet to turn a significant profit, the quest for legitimacy's biggest obstacle.
"The league is starving," said Benepe. "It's like a plant—I love metaphors—it's like a plant that needs to be transplanted to a new pot. And it needs money. You can't just do that magically. It can happen organically but organic growth is long and slow... Anything that is truly viral and sustainable has money."
IQA events are indeed expensive to run. World Cup V in November 2011 cost around $200,000, money the IQA barely managed to make back through ticket sales and merchandising ventures—the league's main source of revenue. Benepe is expecting World Cup VI to cost significantly less since it moved out of New York.
The first Quidditch World Cup took place in 2005, and featured 10 intramural teams from Middlebury College. Five years later for World Cup IV, the sport had expanded with more than 46 college and high school teams competing on New York City fields with what some estimate was 15,000 spectators and media outlets watching. 2011's World Cup VI saw 96 teams competing over a two-day tournament, with teams traveling all the way from New Zealand to compete.
"This past year, Quidditch has decisively made the jump from game to sport," said Benepe over the phone from Kissimmee, where he is overseeing the final touches. "We were sort of on the fence last year, in our aim to legitimize the sport, but we've stepped up our game since."
The IQA has made many changes over the last year to in the quest for legitimacy: Its now charging higher fees per team registration, to cull the less competitively ambitious teams and to allow the organization to offer better services. The sport has also started referee certification programs, as well as Snitch Academy courses to train and certify snitches. And while the game has held onto its college demographic, community (non-college affiliated) teams have formed in many cities in the world.
"The players also treat it as a sport rather than a game," said Benepe. "They're playing harder, better, smoother, and are investing in their teams and playing at a much higher level."
But injuries are also a very real aspect of the sport, and have made many question violence as a necessary part of the game. Players can expect to be hit by fast-traveling balls or opposing players, tackled or wrestled. There is a lot of falling and diving, as well as the occasional accidental collision.
"I live in constant fear that someone's going to die," said Benepe, only half-jokingly. "It could happen. It's not that hard."
"I would say it's a dangerous sport," Dallas said. "But Quidditch is an insanely athletic." She explains that the majority of players on her team come from athletic background: basketball players, swimmers, track stars. "There' a reason rosters are made of 21 people even though only seven are on the pitch at a time," she said. "You're constantly running, jumping, dodging, throwing, all essentially with one hand because you have to hold up a broomstick."
Aside from the increasing public awareness, businesses are now realizing Quidditch's potential for revenue generation. In January 2013, a game was broadcast on Toledo, Ohio cable-TV station BCSN, making Quidditch history.* When the IQA put the call out for American cities to host the World Cup, it got a large number of responses.