Try as we might, the University of Alberta couldn’t hold off the University of California (Irvine) for long. This past week, they once again managed to topple the U of A’s Guinness World Record for the largest dodgeball game, beating our approximately 5,000 participants with more than 6,000 people.
It was an expected reaction from UC Irvine, considering the ongoing rivalry with the U of A over the record for years now. In the days following this upset, there’s been a wide range of reactions to news of our record being usurped.
Some immediately responded with excitement, hoping this would mean another world record attempt for the U of A later this year. Others have been exasperated at the news, lamenting the idea of possibly having yet another major dodgeball event. The latter reaction is a confusing one.
Sure, dodgeball isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the Break the Record attempts have fast become a staple of the school year since their incarnation in 2009. No one is forced to participate, and there’s little to no inconvenience to those who choose not to — but there’s no point in spoiling the fun for everyone else by complaining about it. If you don’t like it, don’t go.
The argument could be made that the Students’ Union shouldn’t be spending money on a frivolous event like this year after year. But if more than 5,000 plus students, faculty and alumni are willingly participating in an event, it’s worth it for the university to shell out some money.
There have also been sponsors for the event in the past, and U of A Students’ Union Vice-President (Student Life) Saadiq Sumar has indicated that if another Break the Record attempt happens this year, they’ll be searching for more sponsorship than last year, which will take some of the weight off the university. Companies would jump at the chance to have their names associated with beating a world record. You can’t put a price on the value of student engagement and pride that the potential of reclaiming the dodgeball record would create.
There’s also no denying the unifying effect these Break the Record games have on our normally apathetic campus. Student disinterest at the U of A isn’t exactly news — all you have to do is look at the 2.43 per cent voter turnout for the 2012 Students’ Council and GFC by-elections for proof of the student apathy. Although it’s an improvement from recent years, this relative lack of student involvement is a disturbing trend.
But if there’s one thing our campus does get excited about, it’s dodgeball. Last year’s Break the Record attempt saw almost 5,000 students, faculty and alumni in attendance.
There aren’t many other campus events that can boast of attracting that many people from the university, and there are few times the campus is more unified than in those few hours when everyone chucks red balls at each other. What that says about our campus is another matter entirely, but if it gets the job done, then we shouldn’t discourage it.
And while we certainly could try breaking a different world record, it comes back to the idea that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The U of A clearly has a special place in its heart for dodgeball, so there’s no sense in changing course now. Being the record holders of the worlds largest dodgeball game is a fun, whimsical feat to be known for, and there’s no shame in trying to keep that up. And if UC Irvine tries to take it back the year after, we’ll simply keep trying. Dodgeball could become a generational thing here.
These Break the Record attempts aren’t just some newfangled scheme the university has cooked up just to attract publicity — it’s something students, faculty and alumni want and are clearly willing to participate in. Whether you plan on participating or not, events like Break the Record need continued support and encouragement, if only for the atmosphere they foster on campus in the days leading up to, during and after the actual event.
So as for whether or not we should bother to try to recapture the record, the answer is a firm yes. Even if we don’t get enough participants to actually break the record, it’s worth it in the long run because of the campus spirit it inspires. Sumar has already indicated that another Break the Record game may be in the works for the upcoming winter semester, and that is welcome news to the ears of students who want to contribute to the campus spirit of togetherness.
It doesn’t matter that the only thing U of A students seem to get pumped up about anymore is dodgeball. The point is that for a few short hours, it brings thousands of students together with a common goal in mind, and that’s a worthy pursuit for any university.
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