From Twickenham to the Super Bowl: A history of streaking in sports
Today is the 39th anniversary of Michael Angelow’s infamous streaking incident during a game of cricket between England and Australia.
While Michael Angelow was a pioneer of Renaissance art… oh sorry, wrong Michaelangelo. While Angelo was one of the pioneers of sports streaking, the practice has a long, storied history at home and overseas. So let’s look through the window of time and see what we can see (hopefully something naughty).
The earliest confirmed incident of streaking occurred on July 5th, 1799 in London, when a man was arrested while attempting to run from Cornhill to Cheapside completely naked in exchange for 10 guineas (about a thousand dollars today). However, an unconfirmed earlier incident of streaking involved one of America’s founding families – it’s rumored that John Adams’ son Charles was caught running naked at Harvard in the 1780s (perhaps unsurprisingly, reports from the time indicate that “alcohol may have been involved.”)
In the 1970s, streaking gained more widespread popularity, especially on college campuses. The University of Georgia set a still-standing record for largest group streak on March 7th, 1974, and Tufts has held an annual Naked Quad Run since the 70s (which has been temporarily suspended due to – surprise – excess alcohol consumption).
Two famous incidents in 1974 kicked off the tradition of streaking at sporting events. The first was Michael O’Brien, a stockbroker from Australia who was dared £10 to run onto the field during an England v. Australia rugby match at Twickenham. A police officer held his helmet over O’Brien’s unmentionables, and this iconic photo was snapped:
The same year, “Miss Cyndi” skated onto the ice at an LA Kings game, where security apprehended her (after running onto the ice in regular shoes and falling).
In 1975, Angelow made his famous run through a cricket game, where this announcer referred to him as “not very shapely.” Ouch.
At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, this streaker made an appearance, and according to The Montreal Gazette, “no sooner had 500 young girls in white capes entered the stadium than a streaker, identified later by police as Michel Leduc of Montreal, dashed onto the field.” (Creepy)
After a few years, athletes decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. In 1977, Greg Chappell attacked a streaker with his cricket bat (Kinky)
The 1980s is referred to (mostly just by me) as The Dark Ages of Streaking. Streaking was happening, but there weren’t any real game-changers during this time. In 1982, Erica Roe copied O’Brien’s Twickenham run, and as a result reportedly made £8,000 in modeling work.
While it’s great that these unclothed amateurs began to earn money for their labor, it does raise the question – did they sell out?
During the 1990s, streakers began to break away from team sports and move into individual player sports. Melissa Johnson became Wimbledon’s first streaker in 1996, during the Men’s singles final between Richard Krajicek and MaliVai Washington.
In 1999, Yvonne Robb ran onto the course and kissed Tiger Woods, wearing only underwear (worth noting: if the genders were reversed, the offender would have received a much more serious punishment).
Sexual assault aside, Robb paved the way for Jacqui Salmond to streak onto the course at St. Andrews during the 2000 British Open.
The 2000s… and beyond!
More recently, new innovations in the world of nudity have revolutionized the way streaking enthusiasts can embarrass themselves, and also presented them with new challenges. In 2005, Germany’s FC Hansa Rostock sued three streakers for €20,000 – the amount the football club was fined for “failing to maintain adequate security.”
In 2006, Olympic streaker Mark Roberts changed the game by combining two things that have historically never annoyed anybody: streaking and prop comedy. Roberts ran onto the men’s bronze medal curling match at the Winter Olympics with a rubber chicken covering his manhood (maybe he couldn’t find the other kind of rubber?).
It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate Roberts’ extensive work as a streaker – with over 500 credits to his name, he's one of the world's most prolific streakers. At this point, so many people have seen his privates, we should call them his publics. According to his website, he’s currently seeking a ghostwriter for his book (though if I were him, I would find a new web designer first).
One of Roberts’ most underappreciated nude moments occurred during Super Bowl XXXVIII, where he made a naked rush on the field until he was taken out by Matt Chatham.
Unfortunately, that year Janet Jackson stole Roberts’ thunder with a famous streaking performance of her own.
What does the future hold for the world of drunk people taking their clothes off and interrupting sporting events? It’s hard to say. But one thing’s for sure – this is an exciting time for nudity!