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THE BEST OF EVERYTHING
John Walters
April 28, 1997
Our Endeavor—to compile a list of jock-school superlatives—has taken us from the bowels of Texas A&M's Kyle Field to the rim of California's Memorial Stadium. From a ski trail in Middlebury, Vt., to a wood-chip path in Eugene, Ore. We have employed the scientific method (hypothesize, test, observe, fudge data) in an attempt to answer questions that scholars have debated for generations. Questions such as, What's the best surfing school? Research was both exhaustive and exhausting. In short, we never worked this hard in college.
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April 28, 1997

The Best Of Everything

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BEST PICKUP-BASKETBALL GYM
Iowa. The 10 courts at the Fieldhouse, home to Hawkeye varsity teams from 1926 to '82, are open 364 days a year from 7:30 a.m to 10:30 p.m. After 3:30 a monitor enforces the rules—teams must give up the court after three wins in a row; games up to 15, win by one; and women have priority if enough of them are present.

GREATEST INTRAMURAL EVENT
Indiana. The Little 500 stands alone. How many other intramurals have inspired an Oscar-winning film (Breaking Away) and been shown on ESPN? For the 10th year, the Women's Little 500, which is half the distance (100 laps around the quarter-mile cinder oval) of the men's race, will also be staged.

LOOPIEST INTRAMURAL EVENT
Indiana State. In the Sycamore Cup Tricycle Derby, a three-wheeled cousin of the Little 500, six-rider teams pedal 50 laps around the quarter-mile oval at the Wabash County Fairgrounds. The 20-inch-high trikes cost $1,200 each and can attain speeds of more than 20 mph.

STRANGEST INTRAMURAL PASSION
Iowa State. Students here field more than 400 teams for broomball, a form of ice hockey played in sneakers, with brooms and a soccer ball.

BEST SCHOOL FOR ULTIMATE FRISBEE
UC Santa Barbara. The club team, the Black Tide, has won four men's national titles. Its adviser is Tom Kennedy, a local machinist who founded the Ultimate Players Association in 1979 and is one of the sport's West Coast pioneers.

BEST INTRAMURAL HOOPS TOURNAMENT
Notre Dame. Bookstore Basketball, the world's largest outdoor five-on-five tournament, is contested over three weeks each April by close to 700 teams. It goes on through rain, sleet, snow—even spring football practice, from which quarterback Ron Powlus is excused if his team has a game. More entertaining than the quality of play are the team names, which often walk a tightrope of tastefulness. Past examples include Roman Polanski's Babysitting Service and Coach [Digger] Phelps: Oxymoron or Just Moron?

BEST INTRAMURAL USE OF DIRT
Connecticut. The school dumps 250 tons of it into four wood-framed courts, turns on a fire hose and creates knee-deep muck for the annual oozeball (mud-volleyball) tournament.

LONGEST INTRAMURAL EVENT
Carleton College. In 1967, to celebrate their school's centennial, students at this Division III college in Northfield, Minn., staged a 100-inning softball game (final score: 100-82) that lasted nine hours. In each succeeding year they have added one inning to the game, which is known as Rotblatt, after former Chicago White Sox pitcher Marvin Rotblatt (his bubblegum card was a prized possession of one of the game's founders). As usual, the best pitchers at next month's 131-inning affair will have a foamy head.

BEST JOCK-SCHOOL GRADUATION EXERCISE
Middlebury. After their baccalaureate session, February grads at this Division III Vermont school ski or snowboard down one of 15 trails at the college-owned ski area to the base, where their graduation photo is taken. Middlebury also has more than 24 miles of cross-country ski trails, several of which wend their way past poet Robert Frost's old cabin.

BEST PLACE TO WATCH BASEBALL
Mississippi State. Nobody knows exactly when folks started parking their veehickles behind the leftfield fence at Dudy Noble Field and taking in Bulldogs games as they would a drive-in movie, but in 1987 the school decided to cash in on the phenomenon. The Left Field Lounge is now a designated area of nearly 100 rental spaces ($100 to $150 per space for the season), two-deep, that fill up with cars, pickups and even torn-out bus seats carried in by students. Some fans fire up grills; opposing team buses are often delayed in leaving while players load up plates with barbecue for the trip home.

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