BSC Folklore

Swampball

Description:

Behind the old Lambda Chi/ Sigma Nu house on old Fraternity Row—between the house and 8th Avenue—was a wooded lowland that filled with water after heavy rains. This became the site of impromptu, intramural swampball games. The rules of football served as general guidelines, but with the added possibility of drowning.

Source: Lambda Chi and Theta Chi fraternity members from early 1980s.Swampball

Brief Commentary:

Some colleges have traditional sporting events, invented by students and maintained through the years. Students and faculty at the University of Oregon, for example, once treasured their home-grown “Oregon Ball,” a form of handball.

Swampball, though, has more in common with a pick-up game of stickball. Of interest to the folklorist is the durability of such a custom over the years, which is still in question.

Also of note, however, is the spontaneous use of a particular landscape. Is Swampball the only use that students have found for this desolate area? Are there other sites on campus that lend themselves to such uses?

Questions:

  • Are there any other descriptions of this game?
  • Was it played during eras other than the early ‘80s?
  • Was that landscape put to other uses?
  • What other impromptu sporting events are customary on our campus?

YOUR THOUGHTS?
Email your comments, corrections, or additions to tcowan@bsc.edu.

Bibliography

  • Spencer, Robert F.  "Oregon Ball: The Evolution of a Game."  Western Folklore 7:4 (October 1948): 342-48.