October 10, 2011

Pushball returns for 175th celebration

The game of pushball is one of the University's most legendary traditions.

In honor of Emory's 175th anniversary, a little bit of history will be made with the epic return of the game of pushball – one of the University's most legendary traditions. The game will take place during a special Wonderful Wednesday for the entire Emory community Oct. 12.

The 175th Anniversary Community Celebration is a highlight of Emory's yearlong effort to mark 175 years of serving Georgia and the greater good through education, research and outreach.

In addition to pushball, the event begins with a torch relay through campus and lighting of a cauldron on Asbury Circle with President Jim Wagner and Dooley, followed by performances by Emory's a cappella groups as well as food and games.  The celebration takes place from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m. on Asbury Circle, with the pushball games on McDonough Field.

Pushball – featuring a 6-foot-wide ball – was played by generations of Emory students from 1923 to 1955 before being retired due to the increasingly rough nature of the game. Wednesday's game will follow the rules from the 1940s found in the University archives, with a reduction of team members from 25 to 11. Each team will seek to push the ball across the other team's goal line. Doing so scores five points. The game is played in four six-minute quarters.

"It will be nearly 56 years to the day since the last pushball contest on the Emory campus, on Oct. 14, 1955. That game has achieved legendary status, and this anniversary year seemed a fitting time to revisit the legend," says Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president. "This game will be different from that last one because the ball will be about a 150 pounds lighter, the rules will be enforced — and the players will not be permitted to de-pants the refs and toss them into Peavine Creek."

Oxford College also is planning a pushball contest for Oct. 14 to mark the anniversary of the last game at Emory.

On Dec. 7, the University will cap the year's celebration with a 175th Convocation ceremony that will honor the 175 Emory History Makers chosen earlier this year (most of them Emory alumni) who made history at Emory and beyond, and who speak to Emory's ethically-engaged scholarship, courageous inquiry and innovation.

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