Rolling is Real Winner in Dabney vs. Fleming Discobolus

March 13, 2023, 8PM

The scene is set: it’s a mild night with a soft breeze. The runners take their marks around the track. 3, 2, 1, and they’re off! Fleming Hovse takes a slight early lead with Dabney Hovse not far behind. The baton is passed, and Dabney takes the lead! Batons are passed again, and with them, Fleming retakes the lead. Dabney comes in strong in the last stretch, but it’s not enough to claim victory. Fleming reigns supreme and retains the Discobolus trophy for another undefined period of time.

After winning a battle of raw egg-eating against Ricketts Hovse the week prior, Fleming had to defend the Discobolus title against the notoriously unathletic Dabney Hovse. As Dabney’s Athman, I knew this would be a tough battle — not just in terms of physical fitness, but also getting Darbs to show up at all.

In interhouse Discobolus, the challenging house chooses three sports: 1 conventional and 2 unconventional. They give this list to the defending champion, who then choose among the options. I solicited several sport suggestions from Dabney, and a multitude of very unconventional ones indeed were offered up — a squat song battle (a true test of endurance), salmonella (inspired by the raw egg eating contest), League of Legends, and a citrus catapult-building challenge.

But after a heated poll in our Telegram chat, it was decided that Dabney would challenge Fleming to Minecraft Hypixel Bedwars and citrus biting challenge (with shell), one of my personal favorite pastimes. And, as Discobolus challenges are required to include one conventional sport, we chose a 4x100 Relay. This was for 2 reasons: the first being that Dabney Hovse has two members of the track team (one of the few sports any active Darb plays), and the second, because we hoped that this fact would dissuade Fleming from choosing it.

Alas, that game theory did not work out. To the disappointment of all the Darbs who had been practicing their citrus biting, Fleming chose the Relay. Their motive seems to have been that they did not entirely understand what citrus biting would entail, but thought it would be too similar to the raw egg eating contest. Additionally, there was a striking absence of any Flems willing to play Minecraft.

Due to scheduling concerns, especially regarding Dabney Interhovse the weekend before March 13th, the race was scheduled for finals week. This was evident to an astute observer in the turnout of each of the houses, but in very different ways. Fleming, who usually shows up in large numbers, was unable to muster quite as many people; and Dabney, who almost always forfeits because I can never recruit more than 3 people, had at least 8 people there! This is so many more than I can usually get! I attribute this to two factors: first, the propaganda which I spread around the house telling people to come play sport; and second, the usual Darb “I have sets” draft-dodging tactic was, conveniently, no longer viable.


In the end, although Dabney may have lost, I had a lot of fun and would like to thank Fleming and Fleming’s Athman, Shelby Scott (ME ‘25, Fleming), for helping organize. As a bonus, I will present the results of an experiment the Darbs ran after the race was over. We were discussing the fastest form of movement on all fours, and the hypothesis was that rolling, as seen in video games, would be faster than the alternatives. We set up the race in two parts. For around 20 meters we would run, then after we crossed a line our movement must not be bipedal until the finish line, around 70 meters later.

We had four competitors: one who was rolling and three on all fours with various methods of moving. The results were that rolling is faster; however our experiment might have been flawed, as our sample was not very large and the person rolling was already faster than the rest of the competitors. Perhaps an aspiring Caltech student will pick up where we left off and redo the experiment with better design parameters.


There will be more Discobolus this term along with the regular interhouse sports of basketball and soccer.

Lilia Arrizabalaga (Ay ‘25, Dabney) is the Athman for Dabney House where they attempt, usually unsuccessfully, to persuade Darbs to play sports. In their free time, they enjoy participating in casual and competitive citrus-biting, with a personal record of 7.