Admins nix bladderball

The Yale-Dartmouth football game took place last Saturday, but bladderball, which traditionally happens on the same day, did not.

While bladderball returned to campus last October despite a 27-year ban, administrators took action last week to ensure the raucous game did not reappear this fall.

Yale College Council President Jeff Gordon ’12 said administrators asked if he knew anything about plans brewing for the game last week. Gordon, who declined to name the administrators who approached him, said he was unaware of any. He added that administrators requested he keep them abreast of any information he might ascertain of the game’s return.

“Given the careful work that many people are doing to support the students arrested at Elevate, such confrontation with the city by blocking key city arteries is ill-advised to say the least and of course, illegal,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an e-mail to the News Tuesday night.

Earlier Tuesday, Miller said bladderball was dangerous because it blocked emergency vehicles on Elm Street. She added that she thought students would comply with the ban this year, but if they did not, Yale’s “emergency preparedness team” had discussed ways of dealing with the game.

In an e-mail sent to all Yale college students on Sept. 17, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry reminded students about the ban on bladderball and referred to it as “risky behavior.”

Gordon said the administration’s concerns made sense to him, especially in light of the recent raid and the current need to maintain positive relations between Yale and New Haven.

But, he added, “I’ve probably never been put in a position more awkwardly between students and administrators.”

No group has officially taken responsibility for organizing last year’s bladderball game, so it is unclear why it did not happen again this year.

Thirteen out of 14 students interviewed said they did not notice that bladderball did not happen this past weekend. But, 11 out of 14 said they would like to see the tradition continue.

Bradley Cho ’13, who did notice bladderball’s absence, said he appreciated the opportunity to have fun and showcase his residential college spirit last October.

“It was the most exciting thing to happen at Yale last year,” he said. “It was generally chaos and I got my glasses smashed but it was the sort of wild fun that everybody needed.”

Seth Norris ’14, who is in Jonathan Edwards College, said he was disappointed that he did not get to experience bladderball, which is a special part of his college’s history. (JE’s motto, “JE Sux,” was born when students in the college popped the bladderball in 1975.)

However, three students said they understood the reasons bladderball should not continue.

“It is not enough of a Yale tradition to be considered that important, and it is time to let it go,” Allison Collins ’11 said.

When the game, which has no rules and often results in the injury of students and the disruption of New Haven traffic, returned last year, Yale College Dean Mary Miller and the 24 deans and masters of the residential colleges released statements reminding students that bladderball was dangerous and against University regulations.

Students first played bladderball in 1954. At the time, the game was a competition between the Yale Daily News, the campus radio station WYBC, the Yale Banner and the Yale Record ­— each of which claimed victory every year.

The News won last year’s game 5,000–3.

Preetam Dutta contributed reporting.

Comments

  • Mikelawyr2

    From Wikipedia: “In 1975, the Jonathan Edwards College team attempted to capture the ball using a meat hook which predictably popped the ball, inciting enraged chants of “J.E. sucks!” from the other participants.”

    This is true. I was there. And this is why JE still sucks.

  • Branford73

    It’s too bad a way can’t be found to let it happen within Yale boundaries. Injuries can happen with touch football. Disrupting traffic on major thoroughfares (Elm, Chapel and College Streets–High Street doesn’t count) should be prevented but it could be contained on Old Campus. Or, if broken lamppost lights are too much a cost or flagstone walkways too dangerous for heads, set up something at the athletic fields a couple of hours before the game– a pre-tailgate activity. It’s not as if the Dartmouth game is going to be sold out and all the fields must be reserved for parking.