Intramural Sports Return with Safety Modifications

By Isabella Troia

If you’ve found yourself going a little stir crazy due to the lack of events and social gatherings, you may be in luck because the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement (OSLE) announced intramural sports registration would open for Pick ‘Em, Kickball, Madden 20, FIFA 20, Corn Hole, Ping Pong, and 3-Point Contest. 

The program will operate quite differently this year as the university attempts to adjust to the “new normal.” Like most universities that are reopening, the goal is to protect students and faculty. 

“Upon discovery of returning to campus for Fall 2020, I thought of it as an expectation to offer intramural sports,” said Joshua Pullens, assistant director of Campus Recreation. “Now, of course, some sports/events we must omit due to them being outside the guidelines of the Spartan Shield safety plan. However, we have virtual events and other sports that have been deemed lower risk sports that we are able to offer.”

Virtual events, such as e-sports, have previously been included in the intramural sports program, but have now been expanded in order to better provide greater opportunity for student participation. Additionally, most competitions will be one-on-one or two-on-two to lessen person to person contact, which to the dismay of many students will eliminate sports like basketball, flag football, and volleyball. 

Unfortunately, precautions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have placed a hindrance on non-academic social events. Hunter Babcock, a transfer student for the fall semester, feels that limitations placed on events such as the permitted number of attendees and location availability have prevented him from becoming better acclimated to campus and meeting new people. 

“I think it is very important for students to be involved in campus life and believe it is a huge part of the college experience,” said Pullens. “In my experience, Campus Recreation has always been a great place to begin campus involvement.”

According to a 2018 study at a mid-sized university, students involved in on-campus recreational activities exhibit greater “fall-to-fall retention rates” than their undergraduate counterparts. Though we are in the midst of a global pandemic it remains important for students to find ways to be involved in campus life and the intramural program is a great way to do so. 

UT has implemented new rules and regulations through the Spartan Shield Safety Plan to ensure a safe and healthy return to campus since its closure in March. With the postponement of fall sports in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, plans for UT’s intramural sports league were up in the air. 

Pullens expressed that the adjusted plans for student involvement has encouraged the program to “think outside the box” in order to keep students involved and safe. The list of COVID-19 policies and rule modifications for the upcoming season include: Mostly outdoor events, face coverings, limited/no shared equipment, mandated entrance and exit, staggered game/practice times, reduced practice numbers, sanitize any shared equipment after each game, and gloves (Corn hole, Bocce Ball, any racquet, or paddle sport). 

While the intramural program is an excellent extracurricular to be involved in, student health and preventing the spread of COVID-19 should continue to be the highest priority. While Campus Recreation is confident in students’ ability to follow guidelines, some students are wary of registering for events. 

Sophomore, Grace Spiegelhoff, feels left in the dark, stating “I haven’t seen much on what intramural restrictions are so I’m not sure what to expect when I show up to one of the games.” 

Now more than ever it is important to keep students informed of what is expected of them. The continuation of the fall semester is completely dependant upon the student body’s compliance with the COVID regulations set in place through the Spartan Shield safety plan.

“If we all hold each other accountable to take the necessary precautions, we will find our way through this year,” said Pullens.Hopefully, the intramural program is able to have a successful and safe season. Registration for Pick ‘Em, Kickball, Madden 20, FIFA 20, Corn Hole, Ping Pong, and 3 Point Contest has closed. Don’t worry though, as there are a variety of events happening later in the semester. Please see below for additional events that will be offered along with dates for registration.

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