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A Shrum Bowl history

From The Peak, Volume 94, Issue 2 September 9, 1996

Shrum Bowl History by John Oswald

If you are a newcomer to this province, a newcomer to college life, or have been stuck under a rock for the last few years, you may not be familiar with the mystique that surrounds the annual football grudge match between our fine institution and that bush-league outfit on Point Grey, known as the Shrum Bowl. The game appears to be natural way to bring the two school together to see who has bragging rights for the coming year. It is, however, more than that. The Shrum Bowl has evolved over the last 19 into a very special social event that is unequaled throughout the school year.

The game is named after Dr. Gordon Shrum, who was a professor of Physics at UBC from 1925 to 1961 until he came to his senses and decided to become part of a new and better organization. He set about building a new university which would eventually become far superior to that of his former employer. Shrum was the first Chancellor (read: head honcho) at SFU and made athletics a high priority because he felt they would build student loyalty and pre-eminence on a faster basis than turning out graduates-he was right. The first Shrum Bowl was played in 1967, just two years after Dr. Shrum opened the doors of his new university, and the good guys (that is us) made hot wings out of the T-Birds, thrashing them 32-13. In the first five years of competition, the only pathetic resistance UBC could offer was a 6-6 tie in 1969. In all, we outscored them 168-32 and UBC's T-Birds decided enough was enough and limped back to their nest until they could field a team that was worthy of setting foot on the same field as ours.

Meanwhile, there was (and still is) a debate going on as to what rules the contest should be played under. You see, SFU joined an American athletic union, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in 1969. This meant that SFU teams would be playing U.S. schools in all sports and under the American rules of football. UBC remained in the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (CIAU) and continued to play the sport under the Canadian rules. There are major differences between the two sets of rules and these include the Canadian game's larger field and use of three downs versus four in the American game. So while SFU began to play under American rules and adjusting their strategies accordingly, UBC was rebuilding their program and still playing under Canadian rules.

When UBC finally got their act together and decided to revitalize the Shrum Bowl in 1978, they insisted the game be played under Canadian rules which put Simon Fraser at a disadvantage. The results were predictable, with the Birdies taking four of the five Shrum Bowls between 1978-1982. The games were all close with only one UBC win by a few points. But the controversy over the rules continued because the Clan felt, and rightly so, that if the games were played under our rules we would have won easily. The argument was useless though, because the CIAU felt that UBC made that game too big of a in 1982 which made it impossible for the two teams to play for the next five years and so, the Shrum Bowl collected dust for five years with the overall record being 5-4-1 in favour of SFU.

When the game was brought back to life in 1987, it was decided that the game would be played under American rules, and it has stayed that way until this year when the game will again be contested under Canadian rules. Fear not Clan faithful, our boys will have two weeks practice under the unfamiliar format and should have it down pat by then. By the way, in the modern era, UBC has taken over the series lead 9-8-1 but it should be evened up this year, and it will be even sweeter because, hopefully, we will have beaten them at their own game.

All the controversy surrounding the rules just adds to the atmosphere of the game. The rivalry between the two schools is intense. It's us vs. them. Eastside vs. Westside, NAIA vs. CIAU, Coke vs. Pepsi .... It would be an understatement to say that there is an obvious animosity between the respective schools' student sections while the game is going on. Airborne and verbal projectiles fly in both directions during time-outs on the field and scraps between the schools' mascots are not uncommon (look for McGog the Dawg to pound the T-Chicken). The game also provides us with a chance to get painted up and head out to the game together to show pride in our school and be entertained by action on and off the field which doesn't happen too often at this university.


Shrum Bowl XXX