Sunday, February 26

Throwback Thursday: The Hill’s College Bowl reflects Bruins’ timeless fascination with trivia


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Trivia fascinates us all. Be it the fast-paced “Jeopardy!” game show our professors talk about in class or the contemplative “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, people pulling out random facts from their minds interests us all in some capacity.

Not only does trivia make for a good alternative to awkward silences, but it also gives us some convenient bragging rights. And I think we all can agree college students need all the ego-boosts they can get.

Of course, UCLA is no stranger to this trivia craze.

Every year, the Office of Residential Life holds its College Bowl event on the Hill, where teams of four people compete against each other in intra-hall tournaments. These tournaments involve quiz bowl-style questions, where contestants use buzzers to answer questions about topics ranging from history, science, sports and the UC system. Think of the bowl as the ultimate True Bruin test of wicked-fast motor skills, worldly knowledge and clever wit.

This year’s College Bowl’s preliminary rounds were held last week, and the final rounds are next Wednesday.

These games aren’t just for fun, though. On top of the symbolic badges of honor, winning teams from each year’s College Bowl also win a whole host of interesting prizes. The members of this year’s winning team are to receive GoPro devices, and runner-up team members are set to receive Adidas UCLA sweatshirts. Not only that, but members of each intra-hall tournament winning team will receive a fancy collector’s edition College Bowl T-shirt, and semi-finalist teams are to receive water bottles that can hold ID cards.

This may sound like just another Hill event filled with free swag, but the stakes can get pretty high for these tournaments. There have been instances of previous College Bowl winners going on to win more prominent national trivia tournaments. Just ask Cliff Galiher, an alumni who lived in Canyon Point and not only captained the winning residential College Bowl competition, but also won the 2007 Jeopardy! College Championship.

While the fancy merchandise probably only recently entered the UCLA trivia scene, the trivia games themselves have been going on for a while. In fact, the Daily Bruin published a story on Jan. 26, 1979, about that year’s College Bowl competition. According to the story, the preliminary rounds for the bowl were held the week prior, but what’s to note is that the competition primarily involved members of Greek life.

Quite a few teams, including Alpha Gamma Delta Pi, Pi Beta Phi and Theta Delta Chi, made it to the final round, and Alpha Gamma Delta emerged as the “indisputable champion of trivia,” with Alpha Delta Pi finishing second. The news piece added the final round spanned for more than two hours and involved a lot of difficult questions, including ones about who made the land and water speed record and on which river Mexico City is located – both of which contestants had a tough time answering.

Chances are students today probably still don’t know the answers to those questions.

But, if it’s any hope, the piece also humorously noted that one of the contestants “decided ‘Mr. Mach’ was the first person to break the sound barrier.” So, it’s clear the sons of Westwood still had that characteristic wry college wit back in the ’70s.

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Keshav Tadimeti is one of the current Daily Bruin assistant Opinion editors. He tends to write about the student body and administration, and blogs frequently about computer science.


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