Anteaters can exclaim once more, “We did it!” As of Wednesday, Sept.ember 21st, as the Guinness World Record for largest dodgeball game was reclaimed once more by UC Irvine students. The game of 4,448 participants was held at the ARC fields and successfully brought the proud title back to UCI.
The record, which was broken by UCI students last September with almost 2,000 players, was quickly reclaimed thrice afterwards; first by the University of Alberta (with 2,012 participants), then by the Rochester Institute of Technology (2,136 participants), and finally by the U.S. Air Force Academy (3,623 participants). After only holding the world record for five months before being broken again, UCI decided it was time again to be the champions.
Third-year Sam Shaw was the catalyst behind last year’s first attempt at the dodgeball world record.
“I was inspired my freshmaen year a few weeks into school,” said Shaw. “I was about to sleep when I had an epiphany: there are over 20,000 students at UCI and I have always thought it would be cool to break a Guinness World Record. Thus I put two and two together,” said Shaw.
Shaw originally tried to organize the massive event on his own, but lacked the resources to bring so many people together.
“I brought it up to ASUCI, as I was interning at this point in time of my freshmen year, and they said it would be a great idea to incorporate into Welcome Wweek my second year,” said Shaw.
The event was a surprising success last year, with nearly 2,000 students participating in the game at the Bren Events Center. This year, ASUCI set its sights even higher in order to break the record once more.
“After the success of the first attempt, I was hopeful for the second,” said Shaw. “But after realizing we had to bring more than 3,600 participants to the field I was a bit nervous. But I knew UCI [students] had it in them. The spirit of UCI is unprecedented in recent years and it makes me so happy to be a part of it.”
Registration for the event this year began at 1 p.m., and compared to last year, was far more organized and efficient. After lining up on the fields and being lead through the registration process, the first lucky 4,000 participants received free t-shirts, emblazoned with the words “BRING IT ON … AGAIN” in either blue or yellow, as a way of splitting the massive crowd into two teams.
Students continued to flow in, even after lamenting the missed opportunity for a free shirt, and decided on which side they wanted to play. as they chose which side of the epic battle to be on. Once participants registered, they were free to walk amongst the various club booths and food vendors before the game began.
The display of school spirit was unparalleled. Students streaked their faces with blue and yellow paint, while Peter the Anteater strutted through the crowd, eagerly posing for photos with excited Anteaters. Music played as the level of excitement grew. For those who participated in last year’s record attempt, the routine was nothing new, save for a few thousand more people.
As the two teams lined up down the field, balls were placed on the dividing line by referees and officials. The moment the whistle blew to begin, those participants on the frontlines dove in without hesitation, while the majority of the crowd hung back, out of fear or self-preservation.
Dodgeballs flew through the air in a rainbow of purple and orange. High-pitched shrieks could be heard throughout both sides whenever an unexpected ball came whizzing by. Many tried to stay at the back of the horde, in an effort to remain in the game as long as possible. Teams tried to one-up each other with clever strategies of holding all the dodgeballs and hurling them across all at once, or ducking en masse whenever the other side was about to launch an attack.
While the event was overall well organized, obvious problems arose with the lack of officials who could regulate and make sure that those who were hit exited were out of the game caused some problems throughout the day. With thousands of people involved, it was nearly impossible for referees to watch the game from all angles.
“You didn’t see that!” became the phrase of the day, as many students who were pelted more than once remained in the game. Referees were able to monitor the frontlines, but the entire back section of each side was essentially unwatched. It was for this reason that the game continued for more than two hours, as the process of eliminating players was slowed down by the inability to see the game from every angle.
Once the teams had been whittled down to much smaller numbers, referees made the decision to select a “team captain” from each side, who would then select 20 players to finish the game in a “sudden death” round. In the end, the blue team was victorious, and the raucous celebration seemed appropriate after the grueling match.
Once the crowd had settled, they gathered around the main stage to first hear the winners of the raffle prizes of free parking, textbooks, and Flexdine dollars. Finally, Guinness World Record Corporate Adjudications Manager Danny L. Girton Jr. announced that UC Irvine had once again broken the world record for largest dodgeball game with 4,448 players.
The crowd erupted into cheers and “zot zots” in celebration of the day’s goal having been accomplished.
By the end, those remaining players posed for a group photo on the field, proudly holding signs with the phrase “WE DID IT!”
ASUCI staff members and dodgeball officials were able to keep the chaos at a minimum throughout the day, and the day was a great success. Hopefully the boost in school spirit that the win provided will last throughout the year.