It's pushball time again at Macalester

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2012 - 6:54 AM

In conjunction with the school's Founders Day -- celebrating its 138th birthday as a school -- students, faculty and staff are slated to play pushball on the Old Main Lawn of the St. Paul school Friday.

hide

Action from a pushball game at Macalester College in 1914, the first year it was played at the school.

Photo: , Macalester College

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When Tony Jennison was hired as Macalester College's head football coach in 2008, he had no idea that he would someday be dragged into the strange world of a different sport: pushball.

In fact, he had never heard of it -- much like a certain writer had never heard of it until this week.

But Jennison soon learned pushball -- played with a giant ball and with scoring somewhat like football -- has been part of the school's history for nearly 100 years. An article in The Mac Weekly from 1914 displays a picture of the first game at Macalester -- which also boasts that it is the first pushball game in Minnesota history. In conjunction with the school's Founders Day -- celebrating its 138th birthday as a school -- students, faculty and staff are slated to play pushball on the Old Main Lawn of the St. Paul school Friday.

Jennison, who has helped officiate and keep score for the traditional game in recent years (a duty he is passing along to defensive coordinator Marshall Mullenbach on Friday), described the action like this: "It's a little different. It's like a big rugby scrum. There's a huge ball, and everyone is pushing. Both sides just sit there. If they let up, then the ball starts to move. When everyone is fresh, the action is not very fast and furious. When they get tired, it starts moving at a faster pace."

A 1905 article traced pushball's roots back to an 1895 game involving Harvard students. The same publication says the ball used should be six feet in diameter and weigh roughly 50 pounds. There are 11 players per side pushing the ball and each other around, and crossing a goal line in various ways earns points.

The game scheduled for Friday at Macalester will use a ball much lighter than 50 pounds and measuring eight feet in diameter. It also sounds like the new version played at Macalester is much tamer than the one played from 1923-1955 at Emory University in Atlanta. The traditional games were permanently canceled because of "mob violence," according to emory.com. Dr. W. Roy Mason, the school's director of student health, was quoted as saying: "We were lucky to get by this year without a fatality. I'm sure it was only a question of time until someone got killed playing this so-called game."

The Macalester version these days is mostly about history and participation.

"I think it's kind of neat," Jennison said. "I'm not so sure all the students know the history, but they see this wacky thing going on and they jump in."

MICHAEL RAND

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 FINAL
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 FINAL
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 11 FINAL
Arizona 10
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 102 FINAL
Miami 109
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Boston 106
Dallas 99 FINAL
Indiana 104
Memphis 89 FINAL
San Antonio 103
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Phoenix 97
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 5 FINAL
Nashville 2
Boston 2 FINAL(OT)
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 FINAL
NY Islanders 5
Florida 4 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Anaheim 2 FINAL
New Jersey 1
Chicago 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
San Jose 2 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 3
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
UCLA 82
(5) Baylor 68 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Major League Soccer be successful in Minnesota?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close