By Cassandra Leibengood
Volume 67, No. 5
During Halloween 2002, residential students of Lower Penn Hall came together and first created and played a game they named “Sloth.” While only joking around at the time, the handful of students ended up creating a game that has been passed down through generations of students for nineteen years. At the Alumni Sloth Game on Oct. 29, 2021, original Sloth creators and alumni came to play alongside current students.
“It was cool to be able to come back and play with people a decade younger than me and kind of keep passing [Sloth] on,” Dustin Jenkins, alumnus class of ‘11, said after playing the two-hour game. “There’s a few of us that come back every year and [it’s] good to keep in touch with them and to meet the new students.”
“[Sloth is] a great way for alumni to come back and play a game that we both love with each other,” Trent McCune, junior exercise science major and sloth player, said.
Players start at the midfield and run to the goal on one side of a soccer or football field with a ball that is reminiscent of a football or rugby ball. The game ball is worked down the field by the offensive team by lateral passes, running, or kicking until it is made into the soccer goal. Meanwhile, the defense can stop the offense with a soft tackle called a “wrap.”
If a goal is scored, it can earn one or two points for the scoring team. If the ball hits the ground before going into the goal, it is only worth one point. When the ball goes into the goal without touching the ground, it is worth two points. The team that reaches 21 points first wins.
The game is not meant to be competitive, as the teams change every week without a set amount of players or positions. When it was created, Sloth was played by anyone and could be enjoyed by everyone. Students consistently come together with no experience or little athletic talent to have fun as a community.
“We accept that we’re misfits and oddballs and stuff,” Matt (Sloth) Repasky, alumnus class of ‘06 and Sloth creator, said. “It’s about going out and having fun with your friends and community.”
“You want to go out and win, [but] you can find your niche in [sloth],” Ryan Palmer, alumnus class of ‘09 and former residential director of Haviland Hall, said. “People of all athletic abilities can play and have a good time.”
“It’s a game for everyone. It’s a time on Fridays to get together with friends and just have some stupid fun for a while,” Evan McBride, junior exercise science major and sloth player, said. “You get mad at something stupid that happens and at the end of the day, you walk away and say, ‘See you next week!’ ”
Comradery and friendship are at the heart of Sloth because of its history and origins. Current sloth players experience the same type of community that Jenkins, Palmer, and Repasky felt years ago. Students in residence halls are brought much closer to one another and to all of the past alumni who once played every week.
“With playing the alumni game on Friday and just getting to meet some of the creators … [I felt it] would’ve been cool to be there for [the creation] but I’m glad I get to be a part of it now,” McBride said.
“[The creators] would teach [Sloth] to the other people on the floor,” Palmer said. “When I was a freshman they taught it to me, and when [Jenkins] was a freshman, we taught it to him and just kept passing it down. Now twenty years later, there are people way more athletic than us playing.”
Since this unique Malone experience has been shared and passed down by so many, the alumni who especially enjoy this game have created a scholarship for Malone students who share their love. Every year a $1,500 scholarship is awarded to two students who apply. This scholarship is one way that alumni hope Sloth can continue to be taught to more generations of students.
“We ask that you play sloth a little bit,” Palmer said. “We know it’s not for everyone … if you go to this school we want you to play a little bit, but we don’t care if you dig it or not. You’re a part of our community because you’re a part of this school.”
Sloth is a game that is unique to Malone and will not be found on any other campus in the country. The feat of Sloth is that it was not only created and documented but also survives as a pastime enjoyed by many.
“Never heard of it anywhere else except here,” McBride said. “Literally, you can say you play sloth and no one knows what you’re talking about except the few who play.”
This shows how one game can bring so many people together despite decades having passed. Sloth will continue to live on for many more years to come as a cherished Malone tradition.