Unlike its 2009 incarnation, the illicit game of Bladderball that erupted this weekend was met by Yale police and administrators prepared to suppress it.
In light of the harm caused by the 2009 Bladderball game, which blocked traffic and left some students with bloody noses in its first occurrence since 1982, Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins said in an email Monday that officers were on alertfor the game potentially taking place again Saturday. Though Yale police largely kept students and passersby safe — making no arrests and receiving no reports of severe injury after the game — they and other University administrators were unable to preventthe 11-minute event from taking place.
“We did not receive any reports of injuries, but the danger in a crowd situation like this is very real, to those involved in the event and those who happen to be driving or walking in the area,” Assistant Chief of Police Michael Patten said in a Sunday email.
The administrative efforts to prevent Bladderball from taking place began as early as Friday, when Dean of Student Affairs MarichalGentry sent an email to masters, deans and freshman counselors Friday night reminding them that Bladderball is prohibited.Yale College Dean Mary Miller deferred comment to Gentry, who said in a Monday email that many at Yale, from police officers to freshman counselors, work to reduce the threat of dangerous situations.
Frank Keil, master of Morse College and acting chair of the Council of Masters, said the Council did not discuss Bladderball in the days leading up to the event. Apart from Gentry’semail, six freshman counselors interviewed said they were not given specific instructions from Gentry’s office as to how to respond if Bladderball should occur.
Pete Croughan ’12, a freshman counselor in Silliman College, said he and other freshman counselors stationed themselves on Old Campus Saturday to ensure a possible game of Bladderball would beas safe as possible.
Croughan, who was present at the 2009 Bladderball game, said he felt the police presence was stronger this year and that the game appeared under stricter control than in 2009. He added that the police acted appropriately and did not resort to excessive force.
“They seemed to be much more prepared this time, especially in keeping people off the streets and on the sidewalk,” he said.
Associate Dean for Student Organizations and Physical Resources John Meeske ’74 said he had discussed ways of responding to Bladderball with Gentry before the event’s rumored date. The Yale College Dean’s Office was also in touch with the police about the game, he added.
Meeske, who was a student before the University banned the game, said he understood why students were frustrated with the administration’s decision to outlaw Bladderball. But he added that the sport’s tendency to spill into the streets around Old Campus makes it too dangerous to permit, and even closing the gates of Old Campus would not resolve that issue.
“It seems like such an innocent, fun thing,” Meeske said. “But we have seen too much evidence that it gets so out of hand way too easily.”
Bladderball has traditionally taken place during the weekend of the Yale-Dartmouth football game.