I was once a sweet, scared, semi-innocent little pledge. Like most of us were, I was in dire need of a reshaping from my pledge master, the fraternity, and the process as a whole. I learned countless lessons during that semester, but hands down the most instrumental day of my pledging was the day of our clandestine Pledge Olympics.
We were about a week away from our initiation, and needless to say we were all cold and dead on the inside (the product of long days and late nights spent running on a diet of caffeine and tobacco). My pledge class president texted eight of us on a Wednesday afternoon:
PCP: Get to [satellite house] by 2 p.m.
PCP: Don’t tell anyone on exec
That meant that five guys in our pledge class were not asked to be there. Furthermore, the fact that exec wasn’t supposed to know meant whatever they had planned for us wasn’t necessarily sanctioned. Most of us nervously texted each other outside of the group wondering what we could be in for; no one had any clue. We all rode to the house together, ready to face whatever weird storm they had waiting for us.
We walked around to the back of the house and saw Dean (our pledge master), his committee, and some guy that none of us knew already drinking on the deck. After they rained down the familiar insults, Dean pulled us aside and told us that the unknown guy there was the pledge master of another fraternity on campus, and that soon nine of their pledges would be arriving as well. I’d always supposed it was only a matter of time before the brothers turned our lives as slaves into lives as gladiators, and guessed that time had finally come.
The Delta pledges showed up at 2 p.m. on the dot (untrained, weak). Most of them were sporting ridiculous outfits and we didn’t mingle at all. The pledge masters from both sides gathered us around and explained that we would be competing in the first annual Pledge Olympics. A buzz of excitement started to work its way through the groups.
The first event was dizzy bat baseball. None of us had played this full format before, and the stakes could not have been higher… Probably? I mean, no one actually knew what would happen to them if their team lost. But judging by one pudgy pledge from the Deltas, who already had the parts of his shirt that covered his nipples cut off, they had more reason to be worried about this particular event than us.
Our first man up to bat was our PCP. Seven seconds of spinning, three seconds of stumbling to square up on home plate, and less than one second to channel Ken Griffey Jr.
Their pitcher had tried to cook the can inside, and our PCP had somehow connected to the polygonal beer can with a perfectly flush swing for a triple. Both sides were a little taken aback; the Deltas noted that it was probably just dumb luck. Then our next man goes up…
The third man goes up and crushes it yet again. I go up — BLAMO. Next man up, dinger.
Again and again we smoke the pitcher and the game starts getting out of hand. We start laughing, cheering, and patting one another on the back, and before we know it the score is 13-0 halfway through the first inning. At this point, the Deltas are visibly shaken up. They’re yelling at each other, getting shit on by their pledge master, and realizing that this day is quickly slipping away from them. The event was called off when the score reached 19-0 early in the top of the second inning. The only good rule is a mercy rule.
The following event didn’t have nearly the same level of organization or basis in a pre-existing drinking event. Instead, we had to set up a series of tarps on a hill in the backyard. One group would try to run up while drinking their beers, the other would slide down at them in an attempt to halt their siege. This one was more clearly sadistic, and it went on for some time. Tensions began to rise with this more physically direct confrontation between the two pledge classes, but no fat boi whose nipples are hanging out of his shirt is going to punk me at my future house. After a brief shoving match, the event was declared a draw.
We then began a flip cup relay. It started at the top of the hill and involved sliding down, flipping your cup, and racing back up the hill to tag the guy behind you so he could slide down and flip. It was immediately clear that we were physically superior to them. The Deltas had a couple of guys who fancied themselves athletes, but the talent disparity on their team only created infighting. To compliment that, their pledge master was turning red in the face yelling at them; he was ashamed of their poor performances and the dishonor they were bringing to the Delta name. In contrast, Dean and the rest of our pledge committee was laughing their asses off. They found nothing about which to ridicule us, and instead cheered for us for the first time since we had accepted our bids. It was hard to decipher at first, but they were proud of us.
The final event played out much the same way; dueling shotguns of which we won the vast majority. Once it was announced that we had won the Pledge Olympics, my pledge class got to kick back and relax as the Delta pledges were hazed by their pledge master in the very basement we ourselves had been berated countless times (and I gotta say: it felt good to watch other people suffer through the screamo song of the day for a change). The Delta pledges got angrier and angrier with one another, and their stock clearly plummeted in the eyes of their pledge master. In contrast, the pride Dean took in his pledges shone through, making me and my pledge brothers feel less like pledges and more like brothers.
We did successfully keep the whole thing a secret from our exec board, and the pledge brothers who missed out were jealous of our shared experience. The Deltas never agreed to do a similar event again, so we were the only pledge class in my fraternity’s history to ever compete in the Pledge Olympics. It brought us closer as a pledge class, showed us that the brothers were ready to embrace us, and gave us a good glimpse of what it would feel like to be winners for the next three years..