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For over 80 years, the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Michigan have hosted one of the most sacred of campus traditions in the soaked front yard of their fraternity house: the Mud Bowl. It all started after a hard rain back in 1933, when the brothers of Phi Delt challenged SAE to a game of football. Since then, the pick-up game has evolved into a sacred ritual that brings the entire Greek community together, with both fraternities and sororities competing.
It also does a ton of good. The Mud Bowl has raised over $100,000 for Mott’s Children’s Hospital in the past five years alone.
But the future of the Mud Bowl came into question when SAE was suspended this summer for “health-and-safety violations.” Luckily, the brothers found a way to keep the Mud Bowl’s adrenaline-fueled torch alive, and the event is set to continue this year.
There are a few caveats, however. Since SAE is suspended, they are barred from conducting official Greek events. To juke the stipulation, they are now hosting the tournament as an independent group they named “The Flying Eagles.” Also, the games are now open to anyone — not just Greeks.
The Interfraternity Council says it will no longer participate because taking part in an event hosted by members of a “rogue” organization is against their policy, and that they wanted “to send a message to former SAE that we will not stand for the activities that they partake in.”
Here’s the statement from university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, published on WXYZ:
“The mud bowl is a long-standing University of Michigan tradition, but also one that has had many health and safety concerns associated with it over the years.
“The Interfraternity Council, the self-governing body of fraternities on our campus, has a clear policy on not allowing fraternities to host or co-host events with disaffiliated groups. Sigma Alpha Epsilon lost its university recognition in 2011 and this year the SAE national office closed the chapter.
“Thus far, the former members of SAE have not been interested in allowing the event to come under IFC sponsorship or the sponsorship of another fraternity.
“Because of that, IFC fraternity chapters that will not be participating in the event are considering what actions they can take to continue to provide financial support to Mott Children’s Hospital.”
Now, it is unclear what exactly SAE did to get closed down by nationals, but I assume it was nothing too insane if “health-and-safety violations” was the final ruling. It is also unclear whether IFC’s choice not to participate was their own, or if the university officials are breathing down their necks, but it’s pretty weak to turn your back on a tradition so old, awesome, and beneficial to the community at large simply because the fraternity is no longer officially recognized. Elitist thinking like that is why some people hate Greek life. They’re also missing out on what looks like a hell of a time. I say forget the letters for a couple hours, and get out there to have some fun for a good cause. In other words: Get over yourselves.
Either way, the brothers formerly known as SAE aren’t fazed by IFC’s decision not to participate.
“It’s a charity event, it’s philanthropic, it’s for a good cause, and it’s fun, it’s a lot of fun,” Mizzi said.
The Mud Bowl will take place on Oct. 10 before the Michigan vs. Northwestern game, and will be open to any student who wants to try their hand at some no-holds-barred, 7-on-7 football..
Image via YouTube