Gigi and I just got back from three days on the road: we had a great lunch in Poughkeepsie and visited with Lizy in Vassar on Friday, then met up with Maria for parents’ weekend. Activities included excellent Thai and Ethiopian dinners, Saturday brunch at Calhoun dining hall (good, but I was a little disappointed that the much-anticipated veal marengo wasn’t on the menu) and the first half of the Yale- Dartmouth football game. But the definite high point, at least in terms of weird mob energy, was ….
This is a strange game that was played one afternoon each fall at Yale for twenty-eight years starting in 1954—I participated once, in 1972, I think, and remember a rush of excitement followed by an is-that-all-there-is? feeling. In 1982, bladderball was banned by Yale President Bart Giametti for safety reasons. The game involves teams of youths trying to direct the movements of a six-foot-diameter inflated ball, then…. Oh, well, let the Yale Daily News describe the mayhem.
Anyway, we had just emerged from a delicious hot chocolate at Blue State Coffee and walked onto the cross campus area when our attention was directed to loud shouting over on the walkway between Calhoun and Berkeley. And this is what I saw:
Later, we watched from Maria’s fourth-floor balcony as a large scrum of youths fought over the tatters of the deflated and torn ball. It wasn’t a pretty picture.
Shortly thereafter, Maria, a member of Calhoun residential college, got an e-mail proclaiming that Calhoun had won Bladderball. Why?
Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES did the Bladderball lodge itself in the moat beside our dining hall. It was the first residential college touched by the Bladderball, and no other college landed it within the boundaries of their college building as many times as we did. When the Bladderball finally deflated on High Street beside the Women’s Table, it was clear that
*CALHOUN COLLEGE WON!!!!!!!!!!!
Sounds good, but according to the YDN, most of the other colleges claimed victory as well, including Davenport, which said it posted 2,700 points, whatever that means.
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.”
From where I stood, Yale was lucky it didn’t experience “excessive vandalism.” Even when they’re chasing around a giant bouncy ball, a mob can be pretty scary.