Guest Column - January 2012
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Intramural Sports Programs

The Collegiate Intramural Experience: Times They Are a-Changin'

By Jeanette Vazquez, Kelly Kwiatkowski, Abigail Whaley & Peter Titlebaum


What can be done to reverse these trends? First, a majority of recreation departments lack marketing strategies that could be the solution to this ongoing downward trend. Strategies should include a market research study to assess the participation of these underserved groups, as well as understanding their barriers to involvement. Once the assessment has been made, directors can begin establishing a connection with the members of underrepresented populations, perhaps through an advisory board to exchange ideas and concerns for improvements to the program.

It's time to realize that intramurals need to appeal to more than just the traditional North American sports. One example of outside thinking is a game that started at Middlebury College. In 2005, they started playing Quidditch, adapted from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. The game is a cross between rugby, dodgeball and tag. Today play has spread to more than 400 schools and colleges across the country as an intramural or club sport, according to the International Quidditch Association. This kind of thinking shows that times are changing and that intramural sports must keep moving in this direction.

Another solution would be to provide instructional programming in which the students can learn the sport by playing in a less competitive environment. Creating intentionally designed programs guided by a coach will allow for skill progressions and a better understanding of the rules, techniques and practice. This will produce an educational opportunity for individuals to become comfortable enough to progress to playing in a more competitive setting.

Also, by working with campus housing to create a feeder program during the first year of college, the value of becoming involved in intramural sports could be shared with all students, especially those students who might not otherwise seek involvement. Through floor meetings and dorm gatherings, all minority students will be exposed to intramural sports in a non-threatening setting. Just as many universities offer first-year student programming, intramural sports and campus housing could work together to create programs that fit into the same model. The goal of these programs is to expose students to campus life and activities, thus increasing their likelihood of staying at school. Intramural sports are vital to student retention and should be recognized as such. Collegiate recreation promotes happy, healthy students, and intramural sports is just one way to do this.

The quality of a program is reflected by student involvement, interaction and general representation of the diversity of a college campus. We need to realize times are changing and that intramural sports need to change with it.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanette Vazquez is an undergraduate student at St. Mary's University, studying business administration and is a McNair Scholar. Kelly Kwiatkowski is an undergraduate student at the University of Dayton, studying sport management and has interest in pursuing graduate assistantship in college recreation. Abigail Whaley is the assistant director for Facility Operations for the Department of Campus Recreation at the University of Dayton. Dr. Peter Titlebaum is an associate professor of Sport Management at the University of Dayton with more than 25 years of experience teaching and coaching.