Friendly rivalry in music and sport mark days leading up to UC Berkeley-Stanford "Big Game" on Nov. 22
BERKELEY – This year's Big Game between the University of California, Berkeley's Golden Bears and Stanford University's Cardinal is Nov. 22, but fans on both sides don't have to wait until then for the games to begin.
A week before the serious annual rivalry, the two schools start squaring off with other competitions that are held in a spirit of cooperation and fun.
These events aren't all for athletes. In fact, music plays a big part in the week's happenings:
* Cal/Stanford "Big Game" Organ Recital, Sunday, Nov. 16, 3 p.m., Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.
This 3rd annual keyboard scrimmage between the two campus's university organists - Davitt Maroney of UC Berkeley and Robert Huw Morgan of Stanford - promises two hours of surprises.
"It's not rivalry, but revelry," Morgan said. "We have a wonderful time looking for the campiest pieces we can find to play. This year, we're doing a piece based on Marie Antoinette, and we're hoping we can come up with an appropriate guillotine sound."
The free concert consists mostly of four-hand pieces, with solos from each organist as well.
* Big Sing Off, Tuesday, Nov. 18, Stanford's Cubberley Auditorium, 7 p.m.
At this annual celebration of UC Berkeley and Stanford's a capella choirs, groups perform in a spirit of fun, not malice, said Ming Cheng, a third-year UC Berkeley student in applied math and business who sings with the Women's Chorale and is a member of the UC Berkeley Rally Committee.
The UC Berkeley groups "mainly sing Cal songs," she said, but also have parodied the Stanford fight song in past years and "changed the words of well-known songs to make fun of Stanford."
Cheng stressed that the choral groups are "tired of the negative atmosphere" that can surround Big Game.
"Last year, when the (a capella) event was here at Berkeley," she said, " we had an announcer ask the audience to try to keep the mood positive, and that helped a lot."
* Battle of the Bands, Thursday, Nov. 20, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, noon.
The Cal Marching and Straw Hat bands have a strenuous schedule of 35 performances during Big Game week, but only this one could be termed a competition.
"We try to have a good time of it," said UC Berkeley student band director Jim Bosch, a fourth-year physics student. "There's a decent amount of fans from both sides cheering us on."
Since both bands play some of the same songs, part of the competition involves trying to play favorites first, before the other band gets to them. The rivalry is all in fun, Bosch added, and the bands get along well.
* Daylong sports competitions between graduate students in UC Berkeley and Stanford economics departments, Friday, Nov. 21, Stanford.
This casual day of competition involves teams of UC Berkeley and Stanford graduate students in economics competing in four sports - soccer, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball and, of course, football.
The day starts off with a soccer game. "Both departments have a lot of international students, and this is a game they can really get into," said Justin Sydnor, a third-year graduate student at UC Berkeley.
The real competition heats up with the second contest of the day - football. The first game, in 1983, was coached by Nobel laureates Kenneth Arrow of Stanford and Gérard Debreu of UC Berkeley, and since then, the winner has been awarded a bronzed, apple-core trophy in honor of Arrow's and Debreu's Nobel Prize-winning theoretical work on the equilibrium (the "core") of an economy. The trophy is called the Debreau-Arrow Award, or the Arrow-Debreau Award, depending upon which team is in possession of it.
After volleyball and Frisbee, the contestants retreat to a neighborhood bar or restaurant to relax and chat about economics, among other things.
* Tau Beta Pi football game, Saturday, Nov. 22, Stanford.
A little Big Game occurs on the morning of the real thing. The UC Berkeley and Stanford chapters of Tau Beta Pi, the oldest national engineering honor society in the country, square off on a campus football field "for the sake of rivalry, but also to build some tradition and some inter-chapter interaction," said Brian Love, UC Berkeley's chapter president.
* The Big Freeze hockey competition, Thursday and Friday, Nov. 20 and 21
This match is a two-game ice hockey competition between Cal and Stanford. Thursday night's game is played at Berkeley Iceland at 8 p.m., and Friday night's game is at Stanford. Tickets at Iceland for UC Berkeley students are $5, $6 for other students, and $7 for the general public.
"We get lots of fans to this game-somewhere between 600 and 1,000" said Chris Dang, fourth year UC Berkeley physics and astronomy student who plays defense for the team. "The atmosphere at the game is very loud and very energetic."
UC Berkeley's Steve Finacom, a campus historian, said that the history of Big Game "involves a great deal of clever rivalry. It's great that the spirit continues to expand beyond the football field and allows other students, faculty and alumni to have a role beyond that of spectator at the football stadium.
" The actual Big Game remains the center of it all," he said, " but the rivalry has grown bigger than that."