11 Oct 2009

Bladderball Triumphantly Returns to Yale

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President A. Bartlett Giamatti, in one of his only too frequent fits of political correctness, banned Yale’s traditional annual game of Bladderball for being an affront to liberal wussiness in 1982.

In previous years, individual Yale students and impromptu teams representing residential colleges, undergraduate organizations, and imaginary or facetious combinations celebrated the weekend of the Dartmouth game by battling on the Old Campus, a large quadrangle surrounded by the freshman dormitories, to keep aloft and move a 6 foot (1.8 meter) leather ball in no particular direction.

The Bladderball game was a pure scrimmage lacking specific rules or goals.

The game normally ended when some combination of persons finally succeeded in getting the Bladderball over a fence or out one of the gates of the Old Campus, whereupon a flying wedge of Yale Campus Police would seize possession of the Bladderball and hastily deflate it, terminating that year’s contest.

I recall that, one year, the undergraduate community bested the Campus Cops by successfully moving the Bladderball through New Haven streets for blocks and blocks, finally putting it over the fence into the yard of the residence of the University President on Hillhouse Avenue, as President Brewster cheered them on.

Since there was no actual set of rules or system of scoring, it was traditional for every team to compete in loudest, and earliest, and most preposterous claims of victory.

Student demand seems to have persuaded Richard Levin, the current Yale President, to do the right thing and restore a popular tradition. I noticed disapprovingly, looking at the video, that they seem to be using a lighter, synthetic ball. Still, they did get it out on to the street successfully. And, as is traditional, the team from the Calliopean Society clearly won, while Jonathan Edwards continued to suck.

The Oldest College Daily reports.

9:04 video

Wikipedia entry

After the game, the Wikipedia entry for “bladderball” was edited more than 160 times. The name of the winning college changed constantly until one editor locked the page at 5:51 p.m. because of “excessive vandalism.”

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Bart Giamatti

Hounies Rule!!



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