Last updated: February 9, 2012 1:09 pm
U of A reclaims dodgeball world record
Nearly 5,000 take part in world's largest dodgeball game
EDMONTON (CUP) — Cheers of “U of A! U of A!” broke out in the University of Alberta's Butterdome on Feb. 3 with news that the school had once again captured the Guinness World Record for the largest dodgeball game ever played.
With 4,979 players, the U of A’s record-breaking game smashed the previous dodgeball record held by the University of California, Irvine, who took the title in September after hosting a dodgeball game with 4,000 players.
For the U of A, it wasn’t only students who competed — many staff and alumni came out to play, including one alumna who received her first degree from the U of A in 1968 and was one of the final 20 players to be eliminated.
A Guinness judge was also flown out to adjudicate the game. Philip Robertson, who attends about two record-breaking attempts a week on behalf of Guinness, was an enthusiastic observer of the record attempt.
He told those around him that the volleys of balls raining back and forth over the court reminded him of “what medieval warfare must have looked like” in terms of raining arrows.
“This is actually a really competitive record — this is the 13th dodgeball attempt,” Robertson said, explaining that it was important for record-challengers to abide by strict rules for the game. For the U of A, that included having at least 100 referees on hand.
“For this event, there are over 4,900 participants, and they’re allowed one ball for every four participants, so at least 1,250 balls,” Robertson noted.
Both teams of nearly 2,500 participants were evenly matched, and the game came down to a nail-biting end as each team was worn down to just five players battling across the court. Ultimately, for the third year in a row, the gold team edged out a victory.
“It’s the most fun event on campus that I’ve ever attended,” said gold team member Michael Ross. “I’ve never seen so many U of A students get together behind one thing and have such a wicked awesome time doing it.”
Chemistry professor Chuck Lucy was also wearing a gold team shirt, and might have been responsible for a few hundred students attending the event.
“I’m out here for school spirit,” Lucy said. “I saw it on the web and asked my class of 400 to show up, but we start at one, and so I’m hoping we can actually make it for class today.”
While the game didn’t get underway until after 1 p.m., despite an advertised noon start, thousands of people eventually packed into the Butterdome and added another notch to dodgeball history.
U of A Students’ Union vice-president of student life Colten Yamagishi, who worked for weeks to ensure a large turnout, was blown away by the response from the university community.
“It was absolutely amazing. This whole week, I never truly believed that it was going to happen, but I had confidence that the U of A loves dodgeball and loves this event, and I knew that we could come through,” Yamagishi said. “It’s something that you can’t imagine in your wildest dreams until it comes true.”
Yamagishi said that he hoped either the University of California, Irvine, or another school would rise to the U of A’s challenge and continue the competition.
He also responded to speculation by dean of students Frank Robinson that, considering the growth in turnout for the dodgeball game over the past few years, the university could aim to get 10,000 participants out next year.
“I hope they come out and break it again,” Yamagishi said. “We got to 5,000, and that said, we still had to turn people away, so we want UC Irvine to do it so that we can come back and do it again next year. Let them have a little taste, and then we can take back the record again.”