An image of people playing intramural sports shows a group throwing a basketball at sunset.

Intramural Sports are More Than Just ‘Fun’

Exercising doesn't have to be boring or difficult. Colleges have started introducing new, exciting workouts for students!
November 4, 2022
6 mins read

Most college students are not lucky enough to get an athletic scholarship, but many of them would like to start or continue playing the sports they couldn’t before college. Intramural sports can be a great solution for those who want to continue competing or even those who want to try something new.

Finding time to exercise and be active at school can be difficult. There’s so much academic and social stress to deal with, and it can be easy to push exercise down the list of priorities. It’s also difficult for students to motivate themselves to go to the gym or run on their own. Intramural sports give students a structured schedule so they can make physical activity a priority.

Intramural sports range from activities as basic as basketball and baseball to things as wacky as Quidditch and Battleship.

Based on the sport played in the “Harry Potter” series, real-life Quidditch tries to replicate the Hogwarts experience as closely as possible. Despite being played on the ground, and not in the sky on flying brooms, many elements of the game are immediately recognizable to fans of the “Harry Potter” books.

The not-so-make-believe sport is a great example of the fun intramural options available to those who may not be interested in traditional sports. It attracts a blend of students who wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths; the sport becomes a melting pot where unlikely friendships can occur.

Battleship, a similarly quirky game, is an intramural sport offered at Ohio State University. The game is inspired by the board game of the same title, but looks quite different in practice. Participants are put into teams who sit in canoe-like boats that float on an indoor pool. Each player is given a bucket that is used to throw water inside opposing boats. The goal of each team is to be the last boat afloat in the pool.

Depending on where the school is, there may also be unique regional intramural sports: Midwestern universities such as Michigan State, for example, have cornhole as an option. Other schools offer activities like karate, paintball and bass fishing.

Ohio State is known for its intramural sports. Intelligent.com called the home of the Buckeyes one of the “Best Colleges for Intramural Sports In 2022.” The list also cited Kansas State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas and the University of Arkansas as equally worthy contenders.

Multiple studies have proven that intramural sports have overwhelmingly positive effects on college students. Evan Webb, from the University of Ottawa, and Scott Forrester, from Brock University in Ontario, recently conducted a study on the benefits of intramural sports. They state that: “Benefits of participation in intramural programs include improved happiness and subjective well-being which can be operationalized as one’s positive affective state.”

The study also found that different types of students experienced the same benefits. They found that the type of sport, the gender of the participant, and whether they won or lost had little effect on the overall wellbeing of the athletes.

Furthermore, a study conducted by the Recreational Sports Journal found that college students who participated in intramural sports had a higher “sense of community.” Having a feeling of belonging is “related to the feelings of connectedness that a person may feel as a result of being a part of a larger group.” Most students have felt overwhelmed at a college campus at one time or another, and many young people wish to form close friendships as quickly as possible when faced with a new environment.

The RSJ recommended recruiting freshmen from the get-go: “By shifting the marketing focus toward freshmen, these incoming students can become involved within intramural sports early on. Having them incorporated into this community as soon as possible can only benefit the students, as they will be able to establish themselves within a community at the beginning of their college career. With the early security of this social network, lower year students will be likely to continue their intramural sports involvement for future years, thereby enhancing their own experienced levels of connection.”

They also suggested a reward system for participants to keep them involved throughout their time in school. A reward system would allow students to compete in different sports to receive “points,” which they could then use as currency to earn gifts. This system might prove to be enough of an incentive for upperclassmen to continue playing intramural sports throughout their college careers.

Not only do intramural sports provide an outlet for activity and exercise within the busy lives of college students, but they also connect people and help them gain a sense of community during college. The myriad options allow students to find something that interests them and even play the sports created in their favorite novels. Intramural sports take place at colleges and universities all over the country and there are plenty of opportunities for students to enjoy themselves while relieving stress and making friends.

Liam Jackson, Michigan State University

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Liam Jackson

Michigan State University
Creative Writing

Liam Jackson is a senior at Michigan State studying journalism. He is the sports editor at Impact 89 FM in East Lansing.

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