Every semester, Boston College NARPs (Non-Athletic Regular People: a name branded by the Division I athletes of the school) sign up in droves to compete in many different intramural sports. Behind the fun and camaraderie of it all, there’s a cut-throat desire to trounce all the other teams in the playoffs, win the championship, and most importantly, win a mug.
That’s right, a mug. The NARPs at BC go crazy for these off-white ceramic stand-in trophies that hold between 1 and 2 beers, according to Mod resident Paul Andreson, CSOM ’18, who proudly boasts 8 mugs in his window. From drafting club players to having grad students on the team, the competition is fierce and the pride is almost hard to comprehend.
Mugs and shirts are given to winners for all of the intramural league championships, but the mugs are what distinguish the BC intramural program from other schools’. They began giving them out in the ‘70s, and according to Andrew Lutz, Assistant Director of Intramural and Instructional Programming, the mugs have “been a staple that’s unique to [the] program” ever since. The Intramural office orders 400 mugs in bulk every year, coming in at about $10 a piece.
Lutz acknowledges the mug’s impact on the program, as this year's shirts even display a logo that reads, “We do it for the mug.” By sophomore year, once students are aware of the mugs, it becomes “a quest” to obtain one.
The motivations for getting these mugs stem from many things, ranging from a pure “sense of accomplishment” according to Claudia Jablonksi, MCAS ’19, to the desire for the mug to join a prized and beautiful mug collection for Kate Oksen, MCAS ’19. Beyond that, the mug commands respect and gives confidence. When people become aware that you have a mug, they treat you differently. In this way, they serve as a kind of cultural currency with the number of mugs often translating to the popularity and success of an individual.
The desire to have a mug by graduation is on many a senior’s bucket list. Desire drives people to do things that are unconventional, and perhaps even unlawful. Desire drove Scott Henderson, MCAS ’19, to promise, “I would give away my firstborn for an intramural mug,” even though he doubts the worth of his firstborn would be equated to that of the mug. Desire is what may have driven an unidentified thief to steal two prized possessions—a toaster and an intramural mug—from 242 Foster St. one fateful night.
Desire is what causes BC seniors to shamelessly badger Lutz in his office, pleading, “Just give me a mug!” and asking, “How much to buy one?” To Lutz, though, the mug’s merit lies in earning it.
The pride associated with these mugs is like nothing else at BC. Some NARPs treat their mugs with more respect than their off-campus neighbors, and perhaps even their own mothers. From drinking from them every night before going out, to using them for post-workout protein shakes, to taking them to Mary Anne’s after the big game, the mugs are more impressive to peers than making the Dean’s List.
Whether on your radar or not, people judge each other for their actions and accomplishments everyday. If you want respect, you better start training for next phase of intramurals because, though March Madness is a month-long craze, the lesser-known Mug Madness is a pervasive, day-in and day-out grind that you don’t want to let slip you by.