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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

I like to break a mental sweat, too. by Sam M. '07

Missed it by that much.

If you commented any questions in the past few weeks or so, I’m going to go through and answer them all tonight… unless they were so inspiring that I got the inclination to write a whole entry on them. So, if you’ve posed any queries recently that have gone unanswered, check back and see if I responded. Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!

Later tonight, this will be an entry about IM SportsConner 2 has got a dodgeball match tonight and afterward we’re having a post-dodgeball fondue study break. Well, this is nothing if not bloggable.

But, anyway, first I had to comment on Schrock, even though I was already scooped in reporting this news by both Matt and Bryan. By my count, this is the third time this year I’ve failed to meet an almost-famous person, and to be honest, I’m becoming quite discouraged now. First I was too late to get tickets for Bruce Campbell, and then nobody told me about super-hot Phil Keoghan doing a book signing ten minutes away at the Cambridgeside Galleria. Now Professor Schrock has to go and win the Nobel Prize right after he takes a semester off from teaching 5.03: Principles of Inorganic Chemistry. True, the visiting professor from UC Irvine who taught the class last term was not bad at all, but I still haven’t achieved my MIT goal of taking a class with a past or future Nobel Laureate.

Well, it actually might have been a little imposing to have Schrock as a professor, since about two whole lectures of 5.03 are devoted Schrock catalysis, Schrock groups, Schrock metathesis, Schrock-type carbene complexes, and so on… I wonder how you’d actually go about teaching something that’s been named after yourself?

And now… three, two, one, dodgeball!

MIT has something like twenty-one intramural sports and it just so happens that I’m terrible at all of them. Well, I’m not bad at “Darris-style” ultimate frisbee (tm Kevin Miu ’06), but that’s another story for another day. There are over two thousand teams playing these intramural sports, often representing a club (ACF), department of graduate school (DNSE), fraternity (ABP), or, in our case, a living group (Conner 2!).

Now, I’ve played three intramural sports in my three years at MIT. The first two were just because they couldn’t find enough people to make quorum and the team gets find if you fail to field a team. Well, you can’t ever waste money, ever, especially when it could be used to buy free food for the floor, so I was kind of committed.

The first time I drowned was doubles tennis. I didn’t really know how to serve or anything, and my hand-eye coordination leaves quite a bit to be desired, and all I really know about the rules of tennis is that you have a lot of Eastern European women who go “wa-PEE!” when they hit the ball, but luckily I was paired with Shannon “Dongs” Dong ’05. Through her childhood tennis lessons and my relentless cries of “wa-PEE!”, we were able to fight our way to a very non-embarrassing loss.

The second time was ice hockey. I borrowed a girl’s skates, and that’s just not a good way to start a game. Now, intramural sports have different leagues, and you put yourself into whatever one you feel most comfortable based on the skill level of your team so you get the fairest competition possible. So, Class A ice hockey might require that you be able to control the puck really well, Class B maybe just that you pass it between your team members, Class C that you be able to shoot on the goal. Well, our floor does Class D ice hockey. The only requirement for that is “does not skate well.” Sometimes it’s as fun to watch as it is to play. Still, we brought in a bunch of ringers for other floors and let them destroy the other team for us, which is also common practice. That technique, while perhaps a little dishonest, did lead to this most interesting of conversations.

Ringer: “What do you usually play? Offense or defense?”
Me: “Uh, this is my second time ever ice skating in my life.”

Dodgeball is most assuredly my best IM sport experience; I’ve actually scored points and won games. I’m not so good at the throwing thing, but I saw the movie four times in its first run, so I figure I’ve already got a little advantage over the other teams.

The basic principle is that balls are thrown by six player teams, and dodging said balls results in victory. Get hit with a ball and you are out. Catch the opposing team’s ball and they are out, and one of your own team members is additionally resurrected. It’s all well-documented here. Also, see those “official tournament balls?” We’ve got those at MIT. Oh, yeah.

The greatest moment in IM Dodgeball history came last term, when Amanda ’08, a tiny distance runner who weighs all of 96 pounds or something, came face to face against five hairy, sweaty guys with one of MIT’s hairiest, sweatiest fraternities. Now, there was a rule in place at the time that a cone would be placed in the center of each team’s playing area, and knocking over said cone would result in instant victory–kind of like the snitch in Harry Potter, I guess. Anyway, the five hairy and sweaty guys leered and dripped at Amanda with their five balls between them and Amanda gracefully tossed the ball into the air, underhand, and watched as it came down in a perfect parabola on their cone.


Anyway, we went 0 for 4 in our games yesterday, with two heart-breaking losses and two complete blowouts. But I caught a ball once.

And MIT goes on.

8 responses to “I like to break a mental sweat, too.”

  1. madmatt says:

    Future Nobel Laureate, eh? Well, who have you had as professors? Put up the list, we’ll pick the future Nobel Laureate from the list. Who have you had for physics, chemistry, biology/BCS/BE, and econmics classes? wink

  2. Lyndsay says:

    Ok so im gonna go totally off topic and ask you a very general question, hoping for what you see as the best answer…

    I’m a Junior in HS this year, and i am trying to prepare for college….I am takeing like 4 AP courses, and a few next year, but what i wonder is

    1) What is the secret??? what do i need to get into MIT…


    2) I currently have an issue with convincing my mom that MIT is a good choice, mainly because the cost is blinding her… did you ever have this issue, and if so, how can i convice her???

  3. Robb Carr says:

    Hi Lyndsay, despite the fact that I do not attend MIT as of now (Applying this coming year) I might be able to help with your questions. In regards to number two you might want to read: if you are not already familiar with the financial aid policies at MIT. Discussing with her the meaning of need blind admissions, need based awards in comparison to merit. I would suggest discussing with her that financial aid at MIT is need based and also full-need unlike most institutes in the country.

    -Robb Carr

  4. Joe says:

    I think you might be a little exocentric (is that a word? and does it even mean what I’m saying?) there Sam. Why do you expect all your professors to get nobel prizes and not you yourself? So think not “when will your professors get a Nobel prize” but rather “when will my professors’ students get a Nobel prize… or you could practice dodgeball somemore, that sounds good too.

  5. nehalita says:

    I’ve heard about these Intramurals. So in your opinion, what’s the wackiest sport they’ve got? Just wondering… =)

  6. Ruth says:

    One of Sam’s other goals is to have a unit of measurement named after himself (ie: my boyfriend is so hot, he’s a whole 3 decimaurers!). Think of how many Nobel winners’ names you know, and how many units of measurement you know.

  7. Sam says:

    nehalita, dodgeball very well may be the weirdest IM sport I can think of. As far as I know, it was pretty much started as a joke after the movie came out. However, in other weird sports news, we do have a nationally-ranked varsity ballroom dance team, which Bryan mentioned in an entry quite a ways back.

  8. Anonymous says:

    you are a retard and i have no clue why you are doing this.