The rivalry between BYU and the University of Utah was taken to to whole new level Friday night when students and fans gathered to Thanksgiving Point in order to determine which fan base was the most powerful.
About six weeks ago, a local company called Property Solutions came up with the idea to host a giant dodgeball game between BYU and Utah fans. The company likes to encourage its employees to be active and felt hosting a community-wide dodgeball game would further that mission, said Lindsay Francis, a recent BYU graduate from Provo.
“We are always doing something to get us moving,” Francis said. “We thought it would be great to extend our work family relationship into the whole area.”
While the bragging rights of winning was one of the highest stakes at the game, something else was on the line as well. Property Solutions set out with the goal to break a world record, Francis said.
The record was most currently held by Phi Kappa Psi and Dodgeball Club at the Rochester Institute of Technology set in May of 2011 with 2,136 participants, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Billboards adorned I-15 and students sat outside in the early morning handing out donuts in hopes of recruiting others to come to the game. After more than 3,000 people RSVP’d on Facebook, it seemed possible that the record would be beaten.
Despite the rain and wet grass, spirits weren’t dampened and the record was indeed beaten, according to David Bateman, CEO at Property Solutions.
“We gave out right around 4,000 wrist bracelets, so we almost doubled the current world record,” said Bateman on the official Facebook page for the match.
The game started at about 7:30 p.m., but participants were there well before that time. Arriving early enough ensured a free T-shirt and J-Dawgs, as well as plenty of entertainment.
“I enjoyed just being in the mist of the throng,” said Trevor Jerome, a physics major from Provo. “Before entering the ‘battlefield,’ everyone was all mixed together, reds and blues everywhere.”
Jerome said people started to get antsy before the game actually stated, but that was quickly resolved once the sign was given to begin.
“Once the game started everyone seemed happy,” Jerome said. “Why wouldn’t you be, when you can throw balls at your rivals? It felt grand to shower those Utes in dodgeballs.”
The game began with hundreds of red and blue balls lining the center of the field. Both teams chanted either “Go BYU” or “Go Utah,” and team spirit was extremely high from both sides. Two people came out on horses and in kilts and referee’s wore green shirts. Once the game started, some were out within seconds while others stayed in until the bitter end.
Francine Sterling, a recent BYU graduate from Provo, was out early on, but waited on the sidelines for her husband.
“It’s a a really fun way to get pumped up for the game,” Sterling said. “It was awesome and amazing how many people came.”
Volunteers tried to enforce rules but they were outnumbered by the amount of participants.
Stephen Jones, the star of BYU’s “Study like a scholar” video, emceed and made sure everyone knew that cheating was not acceptable.
“If the ball bounces, you’re out,” said Jones at the beginning. “If you get hit by the ball you are out.”
He went on with a little more light-hearted tone.
“If you’ve been hit six times, you are out,” Jones said. “Really, if you are on the field, you are probably out.”
Besides the rivalry and world record on the line, donations that were collected throughout the night will be going to Camp Kesem, a local charity that benefits cancer patients, Francis said.
“It’s a great cause,” Francis said. “They aren’t always able to accept people because there isn’t enough money.”
At the end of the night, the real question was, who won the bragging rights for the next year?
“BYU, of course,” Sterling said.