Editor’s note: this article printed in the Nov. 23 Cal vs. Stanford gameday issue.
If you should ever be so lucky to take a tour into The Daily Californian newsroom, you’ll find a variety of historic memorabilia on the walls.
There’s a watercolor painting of the gorilla Harambe from a meme page-sanctioned vigil. There’s a dartboard that never seems to have the darts anywhere near the bullseye. There are layers upon layers of wall quotes, dumb things said by some of the brightest folks on campus.
And then there’s the Knife.
Resting on the shelf beside the sports desk is the Knife — The Daily Californian and the Stanford Daily’s own version of the Axe. While our respective NCAA football teams have the Axe to fight for, we have a small X-Acto knife taped on to a plaque (or at least a nice looking plank of wood). Every football season, before the Big Game, we in the Bay Area student journalism world compete in an even more intense athletic compettition: the Ink Bowl.
For the past three years, The Daily Californian has taken home the Knife, beating the Stanford Daily in a flag football game that’s played at whichever campus is hosting the Big Game itself. And while Cal might not have won the Big Game in a decade, you can bet that the Daily Cal is taking home that knife once more.
Let’s take a step back, though, and consider how the Ink Bowl fits in with the rest of the traditions.
The Ink Bowl is actually a time-honored tradition. Taking a glance at the archives shows us that the Ink Bowl started well before 1964, when we apparently won 20-14 in overtime. And even in that tidbit of an article, the Ink Bowl is denoted as an “annual” game.
Despite the factual inaccuracies in the Stanford Daily’s recap of last year’s Ink Bowl, there are historic traces of the decades-old tradition in Stanford’s archives as well. The Stanford Daily reported on the 1962 Daily Cal Ink Bowl win, which went 18-12 after an alleged 30-yard pass.
The Ink Bowl has even bred its own conspiracy theories. Namely, as outlined in the 1969 Stanford Daily article “The Bull Pen, The Ink Bowl” by Fred Mann, the Ink Bowl’s winners decide who wins the Big Game itself. If Cal wins the Ink Bowl, then it’s destiny that we lose the ensuing Big Game.
This would mean that, for the good of Bears fans everywhere, The Daily Californian should be aiming to lose. But it’s not looking too good for Cal’s football team, anyway, so how about we shirk those duties and play our hardest?
Nowhere on the plaque does it say the date of the first Ink Bowl. It’s difficult to find traces of the game online, which makes sense, considering the Ink Bowl likely originated in a year that did not involve a widespread internet. In fact, the Ink Bowl predates the internet.
This X-Acto knife up on the wall near the sports desk is really starting to build up importance.
That’s not to say it doesn’t already have importance. The Daily Californian has been organizing practices regularly, spearheaded by the sports editing team. Our squad has been out on the Hearst North Field running drills, outlining plays and throwing the pigskins around, preparing for our annual tradition of pounding the Stanford Daily into the ground.
On top of that, Cal won the boat race last year. We’ll be bringing the brooms; all we need is to win the Big Game itself, and we’ll have a full sweep on our hands!
While we’re bringing the brooms, this year’s Ink Bowl will be at the Stanford campus, and the Stanford Daily will be bringing the flags and beer. Just like last year, though, the Stanford Daily will also be bringing the loss.
We at The Daily Californian are looking forward to having a fair and enthralling fourth win Saturday. The Knife sure looks … knife … in our office, where it belongs.