In Harry Potter, the Triwizard Tournament is a tradition stretching back over 700 years. As with most traditions in the Wizarding World, there is a long complicated history behind the contest. In Goblet of Fire, we see the return of the tournament after almost 200 years. The last time the tournament occurred was in 1792, when it was put on hold due to a magical creature getting loose. A cockatrice ran rampant and even attacked the heads of the schools. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time that the tournament got a little bit out of control...
With the return of the tournament comes a set of rules that is mired in the long tradition while also bringing in some new rules to prevent student deaths. Though the Ministry did everything they could to get the rules to a place where it was deemed safe enough to bring the tournament back, there are still some questionable ones. Throughout the Triwizard Tournament, we get to see some of the rules in practice, and a couple of them are real head-scratchers.
8 Why Is There Even An Age Limit?
One of the dumbest rules set in place for the Triwizard Tournament is the age limit. Yes, it was made with good intentions, reducing death, and everything is important; but what doesn't make sense is how they think having an age limit—still allowing children to participate—is a good idea. Seventeen is still under the drinking age in England, and they think that's the age that you're ready to face off against a fire breathing dragon? If you're going to draw the line at such an arbitrary number then you might as well just let everyone put their name in the Goblet.
7 Parental Consent
Going along with thrusting minors into a deadly tournament with potentially fatal consequences is the complete lack of parental consent. Granted, it's a Wizarding World, questions of legality hardly matter, but what makes this rule strange is that in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry needs a guardian to be able to go to Hogsmeade. So, a trip to a nice town with a candy store is much more hazardous than entering into a centuries-old contest that is known for causing the deaths of some of the most promising young witches and wizards? Got it... Although, it might have interrupted the narrative flow to have Harry fill out a mountain of paperwork after being chosen as one of the champions.
6 The Goblet Of Fire Has Ultimate Authority
Despite there being extra rules set in place for the return of the Triwizard Tournament, when the Goblet picked Harry's name there was nothing that could be done about it. The Goblet is a magical entity with a mind of its own and nothing can overrule it. When a champion's name is chosen they actually enter a magical contract. This is why even Dumbledore is unable to stop Harry from participating in the tournament. It also means that the chosen contestants are not allowed to back out or get cold feet — they have to follow through.
5 Wand Weighing
This one seems to be a mostly ceremonial rule, but it's still a strange part of the tournament. Before the tournament begins, each of the champions must have their wands weighed and inspected. This is to prevent any wizard from having to compete with a broken wand. While the ceremony definitely has a purpose, it seems like most students would speak up about their wand being broken before heading into an extremely dangerous challenge. Although the ceremony did give Harry another chance to see Ollivander, as he performed the inspection.
4 You're Not Allowed To Have Help
During the Triwizard Tournament, the contestants are not allowed to have any outside help whatsoever. That includes from friends or professors. This is a pretty reasonable rule, but what makes it strange is that no one follows it. It is pretty universally accepted that everyone will cheat, and it almost becomes a game how to get around the rules of not helping the contestants. Mad-Eye (secretly Barty Crouch Jr.) helps Harry multiple times; Ron helps him find out about the dragons; and Cedric helps Harry with the egg. That's not even mentioning all the times the other schools cheated.
3 Their School Year Is Completely Interrupted
The Triwizard Tournament takes an entire year to complete so that the contestants can have time to prepare while still getting their studies done. This means that the traveling students have to spend their entire year basically studying abroad while just one of them competes. It's a little bit crazy to have a bunch of students displaced for an entire year just to watch a competition, but it's also a good way for them to see the world and connect with other witches and wizards. It's an opportunity to see other cultures and learn from students who might know different spells.
2 Hostages Are No Big Deal
During the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, the contestants have to rescue their loved ones from the bottom of the lake. What is pretty extraordinary about this is that it seems to have been done without a proper explanation of what would happen. Dumbledore just tells them that they will all be okay and then puts them into a sleeping spell. It's evident that they weren't well-informed because Harry genuinely believed they might die. The use of hostages to manipulate the contestants is a psychological tactic that may be a little too advanced for young students.
1 Animal Cruelty Is Completely Okay
With all of the weird rules that the Triwizard Tournament follows, the students are not the only ones struggling. Not only are the participants encouraged, but they are also actually required to fight real dragons. There is, of course, the ethical question of requiring children to fight a dragon that often gets raised, but no one ever thinks of how the dragons are treated. There are students participating in the magical version of what is essentially a bullfight. The dragons are locked in cages only to have their egg stolen. When you really think about it, it seems a little cruel.