VARSITY TEAMS: 26
INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 15
FAMOUS ALUMNI: KEVIN JOHNSON, LEIGH STERNBERG
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: VIEW FROM FOOTBALL STADIUM
If you don't believe Cal is a sports hotbed, check the center of the wooded, rolling campus: There, in lieu of a monument to the free-speech movement or the school's legion of Nobel Prize winners, stands (well, actually kneels) a statue of Pappy Waldorf, the revered Golden Bears football coach.
If you still don't believe it, consider the mark Cal alumni have left on the sports world. Helen Wills Moody Roark won eight Wimbledon singles titles. Matt Biondi and Mary T. Meagher dominated swimming. Pitcher Andy Messersmith won the landmark arbitration case that opened the era of free agency in baseball. Ray Jacuzzi developed the whirlpool that bears his name.
Consider too that Cal is one of just four schools to have won national championships in baseball, basketball, football and track and field. This year the football team went to the Aloha Bowl, and the men's basketball team made it to the Sweet 16. (Some professors brought TVs to their morning classes to watch the first-round win over Princeton.) Junior Jeremy Sampson, sports editor of The Daily Californian, attributes Cal's recent surge of athletic success to the arrival in 1992 of point guard Jason Kidd, now with the Phoenix Suns, who led the Golden Bears to the NCAA tournament in both of his seasons before jumping to the NBA. "Jason changed the entire athletic program," Sampson says. "He made it cool to go to Cal."
Three years after Kidd's departure, it's still hard to get a ticket to watch the men's basketball team, which plays in Harmon Gymnasium, a notorious bandbox where students in the late 1940s and early '50s would drop a dead duck from the rafters when the gun sounded to end the first half. Seating is in such demand that the place is being rebuilt to double its capacity of 6,578. If the football rooting section at Memorial Stadium isn't as teeming, it's because Tightwad Hill rises above the northeast corner of the stadium and offers the best free view in college football—a vista that encompasses not only the game but also the San Francisco skyline and bay, and even the Golden Gate Bridge (page 84).
For exercise, students head to the Recreational Sports Facility, which pulsates with pickup basketball, racquetball, volleyball and weightlifting, or take part in intramurals or any of 23 student-run club sports, including ballroom dancing and triathlon. The Cal Adventures program offers instruction in flyfishing, kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits. Students who venture off-campus need not go far to boardsail under the Golden Gate Bridge or ski at South Lake Tahoe.
All Cal students agree on one thing: Beat Stanford! The importance of this cross-bay rivalry can be measured by its singular adjective: It's the Big Game, the Big Meet, the Big Splash. The high point of the rivalry, at least as viewed from Berkeley's Campanile, was the Play, the clock-beating, five-lateral kickoff return through the Stanford band that won the 1982 Big Game. In Berkeley students are still celebrating.