Michael Holmes

For a moment on the Sunday evening of Oct. 29, silence consumed a classroom in William L. Harkness Hall. The door opened and five men entered. For 25 minutes — yes, 15 thousand one-Mississippis — they had deliberated. Hearts stood still as Chief Deliberator and Head Intramural Coordinator, Max Yuhas ’20, drew a breath and prepared to speak. When he announced that Silliman would claim their rightful IM soccer victory over Saybrook, the world resumed revolving again, Brett Gu ’19 issued another plea, and Ilo Zak ’18 returned to the victorious college with good news that would bring great joy to all Sillimanders. Record scratch. Freeze frame.

You’re probably wondering, “How did we get here? What caused the Council of Elders to convene over a single intramural soccer game in appellate fashion four days after it occurred?”

Many books will be written about Silliman’s recent and historic conquest of the intramural soccer championship. A certain detail may come to occupy many a chapter. Perhaps it will fill up its own novel or an entire season of the television series adaption of the movie adaptation of David McCullough’s Nobel Prize-sealing work on the topic.

This, of course, is the Saybrook v. Silliman case.

Following an expected yet nevertheless breathtaking 3-0 overtime defeat on the delicious fall afternoon of October 25, the Saybrugians attempted to twist a rule about showing up late to claim victory as their own.

According to the guidelines, any team that causes the game to start 15 minutes after the scheduled kickoff must start a goal down. While some of Silliman’s team had arrived on time on the 3:45 bus, a few more were coming on the 4:00, which was running late that day. Saybrook’s attempt to exploit this rule contained two clear flaws. First, the rule was designed to punish tardy players, not tardy busses. Second, what moral citizen wants to win at the expense of an asterisk by their name?

Nonetheless, a small but vocal minority of Saybrook clung to the misapplied statue with the terror and dependence that infants cling to their parents’ legs. They forced Silliman not only to defeat them on the pitch, but to further their humiliation in the court of intramural law.

Fearless and astute Silliman intramural secretaries Victor Castellanos ’20 and Ilo Zak ’18 had to lower themselves to the level of Saybrook and fight statue with statute. As is custom for such a classic tragedy, Saybrook carried within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. One of the many things they forgot while believing they could overcome Silliman was that they cannot field an ex-varsity player. One cannot blame them for searching out any weapon they could find to make a dent in the brick wall of the stout Silliman lines, but they can only blame themselves for this glaring mistake.

In unprecedented fashion, Yuhas granted Silliman the victory they had earned.

Such a metaphorically bloody and drawn-out conflict at once illustrates the best and worst of intramurals. It offers a glimpse of both the divine purity of an intramural champion and the inhuman measures some may take to attain it. The conflict has alerted our ears to a threat to the sanctity of those recreational sports we hold most dearly.

When we block out approximately an hour and a half of our day—accounting for travel time—we do so not to prove how well we can twist the rules. We care only about establishing over others the physical superiority of ourselves and the people with whom we share our living space. Not too much to ask for, right?

Yet here we see an attempt to circumvent the essence of intramurals. The absurdity of this story pertains to both the measures it took to prove an honest victory and the brazenness of Saybrook to appeal a decisive defeat. In retrospect, however, what else should we have expected from the home of the Poopetrator and countless generations of strippers?

Amen I say to you, we must guard the integrity of our intramural tradition in the face of all disgusting affronts. Beware they who throw character to the wind in their thirst for fame. And beware they that call intramurals and articles about intramurals insignificant nonsense, for they have never sipped that sweet nectar we happy few have briefly enjoyed.

Intramurals should always demand the entire force of one’s being, but that force should limit itself to an honest game. Lebron James did not get to where he is by knowing how to warp the rules. He achieved everything because from a young age he cared a disproportionate amount about PE class. That is the intramural ideal.

These recreational escapades create a world in which anything is possible. I used to think this simply meant that even the wildest fantasies of a city boy who took the midnight train could be realized, but it also has a dark side. Under great pressure, people may crack, and with them may crack the beauty of that world.

It is a world we must defend at all costs.

I should add that as a member of the Silliman championship team, I cannot claim to be uninvolved, objective, or in control of emotions as I tell this story. Yet intramurals cannot claim to be any of those things either.

Tommy Martin tommy.martin@yale.edu .