Guest Column - April 2011
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Intramural Sports

Women in Intramurals
A Look at Declining Participation

By Abigail Whaley, Dr. Peter Titlebaum & Patrick Wallace

What is an intramural sports director to make of all this information? Clearly, a more concerted effort to make intramural sports attractive to women is a must. Women are looking for a social atmosphere where they can play with friends and also feel that they achieved a quality workout at the end. Indoor sports such as pool, bowling, volleyball and swimming are all excellent activities to try to entice more women to play. Changing rules is also an easy way to make women feel more welcome. Several program directors shared that rule changes to sports, such as basketball and flag football, helped encourage women to play and to be scoring members of a team.

An added educational component to intramural sports may also help increase numbers. Many women noted that they do not play because of lack of skill in a particular sport and also for fear of looking foolish in front of more skilled players. Adding sport clinics as part of pre-season training may be a good way to introduce unfamiliar sports to more students, both male and female. This non-competitive, informal atmosphere will increase comfort for many women and entice them to sign up for regular-season play.

Marketing strategies used to gain male players may not work well for women. Many females felt that marketing was aimed only at male students on parts of campus frequented mainly by men. Marketing can be tailored for women by use of photos, colors and location. Conscious targeting of sororities, women's dorms and other places on campus can help introduce women to intramural sports. Thoughtful consideration of marketing strategies may be just the thing to promote women's intramural participation by advertising programs for specific nights and more social in nature to the larger overall campus women's population.

The time frame to capture female participants is small. If their attention is not secured in the first few months of their freshman year, the chances of their playing intramural sports decrease with each year in school. Focusing on the unique needs of women students and the social, educational and marketing aspects of intramural programs is essential to increasing overall female participation.


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. Patrick Wallace a recent graduate in Sport Management from the University of Dayton works in ticket sales for Minor League Baseball's Dayton Dragons.