To say that McGill has helped shape many of the sports we know and love today would be the understatement of the century. From popularizing American football in the late 1800s to forming the first organized ice hockey team in the world, to inventing the game of basketball, McGill has served as a veritable think-tank for athletics over the years. And, it would seem, the school that James built isn’t finished quite yet.
Frosh Week tends to catalyze a variety of ideas – some good, most bad – and McGill’s newest sporting innovation is proud to claim lower field as its place of origin.
“It was literally crazy,” said Lauren Tisdale, a U1 education student and Frosh leader. “We had this big beach ball, and it was getting thrown around … and then the beach ball sort of turned into a bunch of stuff that was just getting thrown around. Literally, people were screaming.”
Screaming, but in the best way possible. The flying beach balls, shoes and beer bottles on a hot August afternoon laid the groundwork for the most intoxicating sports phenomenon since Michael Phelps: anarchist dodgeball.
“It’s definitely taken the sports world by surprise,” Tisdale said. “For a lot of people, it provides a sort of stress outlet. Seriously, after listening to those fucking chants from morning to night, I needed an outlet. I needed to throw things. At people. [Anarchist dodgeball] allows me to express myself in a non-competitive, non-athletic way.”
Perhaps the most important part of the game is its strict lack of guidelines. Influenced heavily by the critically acclaimed feature film Dodgeball, the tenets of anarchist dodgeball are simple: the only rule is that there are no rules. For players tired of the competitiveness, fitness, and talent required for many sports, anarchist dodgeball offers a welcome reprieve.
“Whether you’re aware of it or not, there is a large percentage of people [at McGill] who thoroughly detest sports,” said Alana Friedman, U3 philosophy. “I never appreciated getting yelled at as a kid for kicking the ball in my own goal. I couldn’t stand everyone’s tone of voice. It just made me uncomfortable.”
Thankfully, Friedman hasn’t yet had to deal with any yelling or condescension, primarily because stealth is a necessary component of her new favourite pastime.
“Last night, a monkey wrench flew through my window and hit me in the face,” she said. “But I’m fine with that, I have health insurance. Besides, it’s all part of the game.”
One of the reasons for anarchist dodgeball’s success has been the way in which it lends itself to adaptation. Because no one can tell when the game is in progress and when it is not, many groups and individuals have used it to their advantage. Some of McGill’s varsity sports teams, for instance, have applied anarchist dodgeball tactics with great success throughout their respective sports seasons. Teams that hadn’t won a single game in years were able to break into the win column by simply throwing debris at the opposition until they were forced to quit.
Sach Mewburgh, a recently elected student official, has been elated by the publicity that anarchist dodgeball has generated.
“I think first and foremost, it’s great,” he said. “Sustainability and accessibility, along with community, are key … I really expect this game to take McGill to even greater heights.”
But not everyone from the school’s student body has been quick to jump on the anarchist bandwagon. Mack Chester, a U5 English literature student, expressed concern that the sport may have a negative effect on the student experience at McGill.
“I know that the point is that there is no point,” Chester said. “But for some people, that’s not good enough. I want to know why someone is hiding in the bushes outside my door waiting to chuck a two-by-four at me. If this continues, I’m not going to be able to take a seventh year of undergrad.”
The dissenters are few in number, however, and the majority of students and staff are ready to build up the school’s already impressive athletic reputation. Anarchist dodgeball takes place everyday, everywhere. There are no teams and no rules, so pick up the closest moveable object and start throwing.