Above the noise of the jukebox and the electronic football game, Tim Roddy, a Notre Dame senior from Portland, Ore., is speaking to his teammates on P.L.O. Bus Tours, one of several hundred teams entered in Notre Dame's seventh annual All-Campus Bookstore Basketball Tournament. The time is three weeks ago, the scene is Louie's bar in South Bend, Ind., the beverage is beer, the topic is the eternal quest for the almighty A.
"So I figured I could use a snap course, because I had finished most of my premed requirements," says Roddy. "I signed up for a course on Leon Trotsky, the Russian political guy. But when I got to class I found out it's on Leo Tolstoy, the novelist. My God, the first book the teacher assigned was War and Peace, and then he gave us Anna Karenina, which is almost as long. I mean, I hadn't read 800 pages in two years. I knew I was in big trouble."
The four other members of the Bus Tours—Bill Murphy, a 6'4" senior premed major from Naperville, Ill.; Bill (Sugarbear) Ryan, a 6'2" sophomore premed major from South Weymouth, Mass.; Jim McCloskey, a 6'6" junior business major from West Hartford, Conn.; and Glen Sturm, a 6'2" senior business major from Jasper, Ind.—dutifully listen as Roddy describes how, using varying amounts of skimming, sandbagging and bluffing, he was able to salvage an A minus in the course.
These young men are playing together in the bookstore tournament for the second time and are close friends. Four of them live in Morrissey Hall, an aging, ivy-covered dorm near the Rockne Memorial Gymnasium at the south end of the campus. The most vocal of the group and, at 5'11", the smallest, Roddy could probably be called its leader. In a recent issue of the Bull Sheet, the Morrissey Hall newspaper, he was featured as "Mr. January." The centerfold picture showed him reclining nude in an empty bathtub, surrounded by strategically placed beer bottles and a copy of Penthouse magazine, watching TV and toasting a poster of Farrah Fawcett-Majors with a beer. The accompanying biographical sketch, entitled "Tim Roddy—The Average Premed," told how Roddy's early competence in neurosurgery allowed him to "semi-successfully transplant a carburetor from a '56 Chevy into a hamster" while still in high school.
Seeing the merriment at the table, Louie, the bar's proprietor, pulls up a chair. "You know. I thought guys weren't doing this anymore," he says, "sitting around, drinking beer, discussing things. It's good to see...."
"That's right, Lou," says one of the team members. "You won't see us with any girls."
"Girls?" says Sturm, looking stunned. "Girls?" He shakes his head and arms as though having a seizure, and then breaks into a grin. "I do that to scare my mom every now and then. Girls, Mom? What are girls?"
This leads to a discussion of the male-female relationships at Notre Dame. Women have been admitted to the school since 1972 and now account for roughly a quarter of the 6,500 undergraduates. Male students constantly complain that there are too few women, or too many, or that the coeds in general are not up to snuff.
"Well, it used to be even worse," says Roddy. "A few years ago they wouldn't even allow mothers in the dorms here. But these girls now—they're all so smart and serious. I mean who wants to date someone who's going to be the first female President of the United States?"
More beer is ordered, and the concept of athletics as a sexual surrogate is examined. "Well, sure, it's true," says McCloskey, whose high school basketball team won the 1973 Connecticut Class B championship. "The ratio of girls to guys here is way out of line. We're in the middle of nowhere, so we've got to do something. That's why we have things like bookstore basketball."