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Given that students from all houses attend Quidditch matches, whether their house is playing or not, can it be concluded that matches are compulsory for students? In The Half Blood Prince, Harry says goodbye to Ron in the hospital wing and leaves for the match:

He hurried through the deserted corridors; the whole school was outside, either already seated in the stadium or heading down toward it.

'The whole school' could be an exaggeration for the sake of simplicity. Harry then runs into Malfoy, who is 'skulking off' when the match is about to start. It's unclear if Harry's suspicion is only because he is already wary of Malfoy, or if leaving a match is not allowed.

Apart from being bedridden or having detention, are students allowed to skip matches simply because they've chosen not to?

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    As far as why essentially everybody attends if it isn't compulsory goes: what else is there to do at a boarding school when the vast majority of your friends are at said game? – user3482749 Feb 24 at 15:08
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    You can sit for a few hours in dubious weather while players chuck balls around and crash into each other on brooms... OR you can explore a magical haunted castle that has a kitchen full of snacks, an extensive library, exciting death traps, and countless opportunities for mischief. – creative-username Feb 24 at 17:03
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    That's just school though, by the time you live there - it's boring by default. – user3482749 Feb 24 at 17:06
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    ...according to the Maurader's Map shown in the film...there are.....other things people could be doing as well – NKCampbell Feb 24 at 19:21
  • @creative-username When you're a wizard there's nothing special about a "magical haunted castle" (muggleborns would be an exception to this, of course). – Wipqozn Feb 25 at 18:52
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All signs point to inter-school Quidditch matches being voluntary to attend, but also extremely popular, to the point where attendance is pretty much essential, from a social perspective.

‘Stop worrying, Oliver,’ said Alicia soothingly, ‘we don’t mind a bit of rain.’

But it was considerably more than a bit of rain. Such was the popularity of Quidditch that the whole school turned out to watch the match as usual, but they ran down the lawns towards the Quidditch pitch, heads bowed against the ferocious wind, umbrellas being whipped out of their hands as they went. Just before he entered the changing room, Harry saw Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle laughing and pointing at him from under an enormous umbrella on their way to the stadium.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Note that on at least one occasion Hermione (who else?) skips a match so that she can use her free period for (what else?) additional study (where else?) in the library.

“But why’s she got to go to the library?’ ‘Because that’s what Hermione does,’ said Ron, shrugging. ‘When in doubt, go to the library.’
Harry stood, irresolute, trying to catch the voice again, but people were now emerging from the Great Hall behind him, talking loudly, exiting through the front doors on their way to the Quidditch pitch.
‘You’d better get moving,’ said Ron. ‘It’s nearly eleven – the match.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

There appears to be no restriction on her doing so and no punishment for having done so.

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    Given that Hermione is usually a stickler for school rules, that is very solid evidence. And such a Hermione thing to do! – creative-username Feb 23 at 22:14
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    @creative-username - She breaks the school rules regularly, typically to help her friends. – Valorum Feb 23 at 22:16
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    Yes, true. And this was the same year she brewed illicit Polyjuice. But she is usually conscious of the fact that they're breaking rules and reminds Ron and Harry of it often, even when it's because they're figuring out how to break those same rules. Maybe 'stickler' wasn't a great word choice. – creative-username Feb 23 at 22:23
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    @Jenayah Even that question states "Generally, Hermione is a prim character who appreciates rules and regulations." which I completely agree with. Hermione has respect for rules but understands there are times when they must be broken. Both are true. – creative-username Feb 23 at 22:41
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    Is it so clear that Hermione was skipping the match? The match hadn't even started yet when McGonagall canceled it - Hermione had by that point already left the library, been attacked, been brought to the Hospital Wing, etc. It seems like she may have just intended a slight detour on the way to the match. – Alex Feb 23 at 22:48
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The question here seems to combine two separate things: 1. Is attending Quidditch matches compulsory? 2. Did anyone ever skip Quidditch simply of their own choice?

I think we can infer that Quidditch attendance is not mandatory from the fact that in Chapter Twenty-Four of Half-Blood Prince Harry has detention during a Quidditch match:

"Well, we shall see how you feel after your detentions," said Snape. "Ten o'clock Saturday morning, Potter. My office."

"But sir..." said Harry, looking up desperately. "Quidditch... the last match of the..."

"Ten o'clock," whispered Snape, with a smile that showed his yellow teeth. "Poor Gryffindor... fourth place this year, I fear..."

Given that we never find detentions occurring during mandatory student activities, it would seem to be reasonable to conclude that attendance at Quidditch matches was not, in fact, mandatory.

As for whether anyone ever ditched a Quidditch match of their own volition, Harry himself did this in Chapter Thirty of Order of the Phoenix:

“Listen,” he whispered, “can yeh come with me? Now? While ev’ryone’s watchin’ the match?”

“Er... can’t it wait, Hagrid?” asked Harry. “Till the match is over?

“No,” said Hagrid. “No, Harry, it’s gotta be now... while ev’ryone’s lookin’ the other way... Please?”

Hagrid’s nose was gently dripping blood. His eyes were both blackened. Harry had not seen him this close up since his return to the school; he looked utterly woebegone.

“’Course,” said Harry at once, “’course we’ll come...”

There are some implications over the following pages that they are doing something they shouldn't be doing. For example:

“I ’ppreciate this, you two, I really do,” said Hagrid as they reached the stairs. He kept looking around nervously as they descended toward the lawn below. “I jus’ hope she doesn’ notice us goin’...”

And:

“Yeah,” said Hagrid. “C’mon now, quick, before we’re spotted!”

And:

“Look — there’s people comin’ out already — if you two hurry yeh’ll be able ter blend in with the crowd an’ no one’ll know you weren’t there!”

But this may not be because missing Quidditch itself is problematic, but that the specific nature of what they were doing instead was problematic.

  • You're right, there were two questions there. I edited the last bit to clarify what's being asked. – creative-username Feb 23 at 22:38
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    There are multiple examples of students being ordered (by teacher) to do things that would otherwise breach a school rule. Being outdoor after hours for detentions, for example – Valorum Feb 23 at 22:46
  • @Valorum It's only against the rules to be outdoors after hours when you don't have permission to be outdoors. Much like one is not breaking any rule by being in the Restricted Section with permission. The rule is simply not applicable to that situation. My argument wasn't that teachers can't allow (or force) students to do things that would otherwise be against the rules. My argument was that detentions never take place during mandatory activities. – Alex Feb 23 at 23:52
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    @Alex - Being inside after curfew is a mandatory activity – Valorum Feb 23 at 23:54
  • @Valorum There’s no activity “be inside after curfew” just like there’s no activity of “don’t be in the Forbidden Forest” or “don’t be in the third floor corridor”. A mandatory activity is something specific that has to be done; the reason why detentions don’t overlap these is that then those activities would not be completed. There is nothing that needs to be completed by being inside after curfew, and thus there is nothing lost if detention occurs then. – Alex Feb 23 at 23:59

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