Column by Sam Pritchard
Pritchard is a junior marketing and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports are great. Science, the humanities, a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel — they’re good and all, but nothing gets the blood flowing like the feel of a freshly-pumped ball in hand, the electricity of the crowd, or the sweet taste of hard-fought competition. Many students chose to involve themselves with athletics in some capacity during their college careers, whether as a Division I student-athlete, a club sport phenom or an intramural aficionado.
After my brief career as a second-string high school quarterback ended during my sophomore year, I gave up on my dream of becoming an NFL superstar. But the dream I never gave up was to one day become a sub-mediocre intramural participant.
Last year, my dream came to fruition. I was drafted onto the prestigious Duff intramural basketball team, a team that seeks to honor the spirit of the game of basketball while entertaining and inspiring athletes, spectators and officials alike. In the years since its conception in 2004, Duff has been overwhelmingly successful at accomplishing those goals.
To those unfamiliar with the program, former intramural referee Haley Bosco put it best when she described Duff as “Des Moines’ amateur version of the white Harlem Globetrotters playing blindfolded with roller skates on ice.” In spite of being the most celebrated intramural team of the last decade, the rise of Duff has not been without its trials. As the 2013 season kicked off, we found ourselves in the midst of the biggest intramural scandal to hit campus since Francis Marion Drake was accused of doping in 1884.
A long-standing tradition of the Duff team has been the inclusion of a small, friendly and not particularly athletic stuffed beaver. The Beaver has been a staple for our team, but he has always been denied a chance to play under the bright lights of the Bell Center due to his lack of a valid student ID. During the off-season, the determined little guy acquired the proper credentials and was thrilled at his chance to finally prove his worth.
Yet, for members of the intramural staff, apparently not all students are created equal. In spite of having a valid student ID, the Beaver was denied a chance to live out his only dream. After being made aware of the Beaver’s attempt, Lisa Murphy, assistant director of recreational services, began a formal investigation into the matter. Hoping to clear up any confusion, we responded to her inquiry by stating that “at no point did the Beaver log any playing time” and that the team would “suspend the Beaver for one game” in response to the incident. The Beaver was crushed and simply could not understand what he had done wrong.
Not satisfied by our team’s self-imposed suspension, Murphy proceeded to suspend the entire Duff team from further intramural involvement and referred the Duff team captain to the office of the Dean of Students, claiming that the Duff team “like(s) to play and act goofy while playing” and that “they actually don’t want to score points, they enjoy running football plays, playing duck, duck, goose and do everything except play basketball.”
And in an instant, everything we had worked so hard for was taken away. It has been difficult to come to terms with our condemnation, but the team has banded together. I hope I never again have to call someone’s parents and tell them that their son’s intramural team was dealt the death blow, and that is a task I would never wish on my worst enemies. The impact of the injustice at hand is hard to comprehend, but the Beaver has been a source of strength for all of us.
As I reflect on the events of “Beavergate,” I’m left to wonder if this is what our university culture has come to. When did the pursuit of a few laughs get outlawed by our policies and procedures? When did the mission statement adopt a beaver clause to its tenet of “meaningful personal lives”? When did we cease to acknowledge the rights of our stuffed animal friends to play basketball and lead active, healthy lives? It’s in times like these that I am reminded of the wise words of political scientist Joseph S. Nye Jr. who said, “The eagle may soar, beavers build dams.”
So let’s end this dam injustice.