Each semester, an impassioned discussion arises behind the desks of The Student Life Sports Section.
“Who’s going to cover Humans vs. Zombies?” we wonder. Silence, deep breaths, maybe some snorts, and then the inevitable, highfalutin retorts: “Should we even cover HvZ? Is the gun-toting, sock-throwing, noodle-whacking event even a sport?”
It is to those who doubt, and in honor of those who play, that I say: not only is Humans vs. Zombies a sport, but the game sets the bar for athletics at the Claremont Colleges. Yes, that’s right, HvZ is the pinnacle of athletic skill and prowess to which 5C athletics should aspire.
But what, you may wonder, is a sport? For this concern, let us look to the most basic, reliable, universally trusted source for definitions. Wikipedia says, “Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants.”
Hm. Let’s see how HvZ stacks up:
Physical activity. In the movie Zombieland, one of the last human survivors has a set of rules to survive the zombie filled world. Rule 1: Cardio. If you can’t outrun the zombie for long enough to find a way to defeat it, you can’t survive. The same is true for HvZ. By day three, savvy humans will find themselves outrunning zombies from the corner of Harvey Mudd’s quad to the safe zone at the SCC. If that’s not physical activity, neither is cross country.
Organized Participation. From advertisements to sign-up weeks, nightly missions, and an online infection reporting system, HvZ is defined by its organization. Over the course of the week in which 5C students neglect their classes in order to survive the contagion, they become part of a system more smoothly run than any other organization on campus.
Provides Entertainment. Is this a joke? This criterion need hardly be explained. Walking to class, it’s easy to see how absorbing HvZ is to the participants as well as the spectators. Just in the trip from Walker to Lincoln-Edmonds, you’re guaranteed to see at least one human being chased, one zombie hiding in the bushes, one exchange of infection numbers, and one human that’s entirely too decked out in Nerf gear.
But wait! That’s not all! HvZ is a game of camaraderie, tradition, and of course, skill.
Teamwork. Without your team, you can survive one day on your own, but not much more. Players group with fellow humans out of necessity, roving in packs by the end of the week.
Tradition. I concede that it may not have the hundreds of years baseball has. But stories of Humans vs. Zombies are passed down year after year and have already given the game a historic feel. Freshmen wax nostalgic about how Jimmy Klingensmith PO ’12 survived the waves of zombies by hiding in a tree, and they weren’t even there to witness his feat.
Skill. It’s true that almost everyone can shoot a Nerf gun. But very few can reload that Nerf gun—excuse me, “foam dart blaster”—in less than ten seconds, while simultaneously throwing sock balls at an onslaught of the undead. The game takes very little skill to participate, but, like any sport, requires superior skills to win.
Alright, you might say, I can see why you think HvZ should be considered a sport, but how could it possibly set the bar for our athletics?
This week of Humans and Zombies will have 640 players—more of the student body than those who play varsity athletics or even come to watch the games. Combined. And while that should probably be enough said, HvZ excites dialogue ranging from ethics to game theory. Does that happen on the squash court?
Humans vs Zombies proves that if you make a sport easy to participate in, exciting, interesting to watch, and appealing to the 5C audience, it can live up to great expectations. HvZ truly does set the bar for 5C athletics, and boy is the bar high.