Dodgeball Record Underwhelming Compared to Anteater Athletics

In case you have not heard the grand news, UC Irvine made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records last Wednesday for the largest dodgeball game.

1,745 Anteaters, mostly freshmen, made their way to the Bren Events Center to shatter the previous record of 1,198 held by our neighbors to the north, the University of Alberta.

Call me a cantankerous senior, but the entire event was rather underwhelming. Unfortunately, the hoopla of setting a world record sounded a lot cooler on paper than it was in real life.

The event started off with registration: signing waivers in case any uncouth participants were to suffer bodily harm and passing out our new student spirit group t-shirts. All members of the Antourage will rock a nice sans serif font going vertically down the right side of the shirt. For the tournament, there were gold and navy blue shirts to denote the two separate teams. (Note: shout-out to the class of 2011, the only UCI students who can proudly claim to be the completely insane anteater nation antourage.)

After some prepatory awkward club-music-meets-pep-rally time, all the dodgeball participants were ushered on to the Bren floor to get ready for the epic game. Or so we thought.

After being told that we could not leave the floor for the sake of the record (exact count and such), the Blue and Gold Spirit Rally, but not dodgeball, began.

Daniel Aldrich III, son of Daniel Aldrich Jr., UCI’s founding chancellor and the namesake of Aldrich Park and Aldrich Hall, made an appearance. So did the head coaches of UCI baseball, men’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball.

Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time National Champion coach John Speraw gave a rousing speech about beating USC in the national championship in 2009, predicting that it just may happen again this year. New basketball coach and former Golden State Warriors assistant coach Russell Turner also pumped up the crowd by promising entertaining basketball at the Bren.

The emcee threw out a few plush anteaters and even an iPod (apparently donated by the UCI Bookstore, although I do not remember any such plug being mentioned) to appease the crowd, but the students began to get restless. Even as an avid Anteater athletics supporter, I felt like we had been conned into watching the festivities on the floor. Call us lazy, but why couldn’t we just sit in the stands for the rally?

What made things worse was that the side stage, where the spirit squad (UCI’s very own cheerleader and dance team) and MCIA performed, was not visible except to the people right next to the performance area. Because the “stage” was not elevated, 90 percent of the crowd on the floor could not view the performances.

The actual dodgeball experience was less about the game of dodgeball than it was about the sheer craziness of hundreds of colorful balls flying through the air.

The game was sheer pandemonium. Lined up shoulder to shoulder about eight rows deep, I saw similarities to a Civil War battle with people chucking balls long distance into the masses on the other side. The act of dodging amounted to a few jerks of the neck and twists of the body. I tried to pick up a ball or two and throw them, but because of the lack of room to step and throw, I watched them futilely land short of the opposite shore.

About a minute into the game, my poor positioning (about the third row) caused me to succumb to a ball that slammed into the side of my face. Awesome.

Thoroughly unfazed, I retreated to the side to get my wristband cut and watch the rest of the game. I watched as people got blatantly hit but stayed in the game, and I watched as people caught balls but had no idea who threw them. I even watched as members of the men’s volleyball team and women’s soccer team got into the competitive spirit. Perhaps most entertaining was reserve junior basketball guard Jonas Lalehzadeh using the referees and photographers at the center line as shields, side-arming balls and pelting the blue team with glee.

Don’t get me wrong. I give sophomore Sam Shaw, who originally thought of the idea, props. It was a noble effort to put UCI on the map and stir up athletic spirit and student unity.

But it will all go to waste if all you freshmen and Anteater sports newbies don’t return to the Bren for actual events.

The basketball games here never get close to 1,700 students. In fact, 200 to 300 probably makes for a good night. When you consider the student population of roughly 22,000, that is utterly pathetic. Yet I can guarantee you that watching UCI basketball, volleyball, soccer and baseball is much more enjoyable than some hectic and monstrous dodgeball game.

Being in the student section of a Division I college basketball game is something you can only do for four years of your life. Come experience Eric Wise and Darren Moore bring down the house with their physical play.

No other school in the nation can boast two men’s volleyball national championships in the last four years. You don’t even have to understand volleyball to appreciate their prowess.

Men’s soccer is 6-1 with six shutouts on the season. That’s right: they have outscored their opponents 17-0 in their six wins of the year.
Baseball is entrenched in the top 25 year after year, and just saw eight members off the 2010 team drafted to Major League Baseball.

We shouldn’t have to be detained, gimmicked or bribed to attend these events. They are already free and housed on campus! The product that takes the court, pitch and field are good enough on their own. Open your eyes to that fact, UCI.