Sports fans around the world have one thing in common: we hate it when our games get interrupted – that is, unless it’s by a streaker. Preferably a blonde. With large… assets. And if that fails (which is the norm), at least we have the entertaining tackles and chases by stadium security to make the event worth our while. Although streaking is usually associated with sports, it has a bold history and is firmly entrenched in the cultures and social calendars of universities and colleges worldwide. Many an activist has also bared a hairy armpit or worse to raise public awareness, and it has even given rise to a multitude of naked social events. Endeavoured individually or in groups, the art of streaking has taken on many forms over the years but the naked truth prevails: socks, shoes, and scarves are optional.
10. The First Daredevils
The first recorded streak happened on July 5, 1799, when an adventurous (and unfortunately, nameless) man accepted a dare and was arrested at the Mansion House in London after a naked dash from Cornhill to Cheapside. Within 5 years of the nameless trailblazer’s sprint, the U.S. recorded its first streaking event at Washington College when George William Crump bared all during a run through Lexington, Virginia.
Although young Mr. Crump’s feat saw him suspended for the remainder of the academic semester, he eventually graduated from Princeton and became a U.S. Congressman. It is said that Robert E. Lee later gave these naked sprints his blessing and confirmed them to be “rites of passage” for Washington and Lee gentlemen.
9. The Guy Who Introduced It to Sports
Michael O’Brien changed the number of security guards at major sporting events forever when he charged onto the field during a rugby match at Twickenham in his birthday suit on the April 20, 1974. Dared by a friend to run the width of the field and touch a fence, O’Brien almost lost when police caught up to him before he could reach his destination.
Luckily for him, PC Bruce Perry actually walked him to the fence whilst covering his nether regions with his police helmet and allowed him to complete the dare before arresting him. The iconic image of O’Brien’s arrest won a World Press photo award and became Life magazine’s “Picture of the Year”.
8. The Serial Streakers
Streaks are usually unpremeditated, alcohol-induced events – but there are those who take their raunchy romps very seriously. The world’s most prolific streaker, Mark Roberts has streaked at over 500 major sports events over the past 18 years, giving him a place of eminence amongst serial streakers. His streaks includes the Super Bowl, Miss World, the running of the bulls in Pamplona and the Wimbledon final. Mark’s unusual hobby even led to a few paid-for commercials.
7. The Streakers that Scored
When you take your clothes of and run onto a sports field, chances are you might come into contact with the players. Due to the inebriated state of most streakers, such an event usually leads to a massive takedown and possible concussion, but every once in a while a streaker actually manages to get a hold of the ball and score.
The notorious U.K. streaker, Mark Roberts, has scored at least twice, while another U.K. streaker managed to score during a 1998 game between Reading and Nott’s County. Unfortunately despite all their trouble, their goals didn’t count and in Mark Robbert’s case, all he received was a hefty fine.
6. The Epidemic of ’73
In 1973, Stephen F. Austin State University was hit by a full-blown “streaking epidemic”. Nubile young bodies wearing nothing but sneakers could be seen everywhere – from the residence halls to football games. Even the once esteemed spring graduation ceremony could not escape the disrobed liberation. As media coverage of the so-called epidemic spread, several colleges and other groups in the US were swept up in the naked novelty.
Finally, in a bid to end the furore by the spring of 1974, Ralph W. Steen, (the no doubt exasperated, but enlightened) University President, declared an annual streaking day – initiating a rich tradition that continues to this day.
5. The Largest Group Streaks
It should come as no surprise that the “Epidemic of ’73” led to quite a few infamous records that has never been broken. On March 7, 1974, the record for the largest group streak was established when 1,543 students at the University of Georgia streaked as one. Wearing nothing but the odd ski-mask and pair of gym shorts (as a mask of course), the students were officially counted as they left the campus and ran three quarters of a mile.
The University of Colorado holds second place with their claimed 1,200 streakers while the University of Maryland holds the third place with 553 students – proving once and for all that university is all about knowledge, research and learning.
4. Streaking as a Team
Though streaking might be one of the safer naked group activities at colleges today, nobody in the 1970’s would have guessed that it would become as organised and goal-oriented as team sports. The streaking team of Hamilton College, “Streak to Win”, is in fact so dedicated to their cause that they embarked on a streaking tour in 2008; achieving 12 streaks at neighboring colleges in only five days.
The “Springstreakers” of Williams College in Massachusetts have certain established streaks and one can usually catch a swinging glimpse of them at freshman orientation or at Super Bowl parties. Their surprisingly modest rules include to only streak when sober and to abstain from streaking children.
3. A Public Spanking and a Criminal Sentence
Amusingly, streaks have been known to go wrong. And boy, can they go wrong! Apart from the senseless saucy sprint made by Juan Rodriguez in 2011 at President Barack Obama’s rally (which saw him slapped with two years’ probation), several other notable incidents have taken place over the years. While we may not all approve of the odd bit of bare skinned spanking, it definitely has its moments.
During a cricket match in 1977, an Australian cricketer by the name of Greg Chappell decided to put his cricket bat to better use when an unfortunate fellow by the name of Bruce McCauley decided to strut his stuff on the cricket pitch.
2. Streaking at Totally Unlikely Sports Events
Snooker and tennis might be seen as some of the more “civilized” sports by some, but on several occasions streakers have proved that the ball-games could do with a bit more exposure. The most notable of these happened in the final of the 1997 Benson & Hedges Masters between Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan when Lianne Crofts jiggled her way around the snooker table amidst appreciative cheers.
Tiger Woods also became a smiling victim on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in 1999 when Yvonne Robb not only streaked as he was about the putt, but also stole a kiss in front of 100 million viewers. Unsurprisingly, Tiger’s game was not affected and the content young lady gladly paid her resulting fine.
1. Crashing the Oscars
Hollywood’s most glamorous stars were in for much more than a show when they took their seats at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974. As David Niven introduced Elizabeth Taylor to present the award for Best Picture, 34-year old Robert Opel cemented his place in history as he streaked across the stage flaunting his moustache, manly bits, and a very daring peace sign.
In a memorable sequence that would be voted a top Oscars moment by film fans in 2001, host David Niven regained the audience’s full attention with his brilliant comeback, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”