One of the most fun and exciting aspects of college is participating in different activities with your friends and classmates. One such activity is intramural sports. Millions of college students around the globe play intramural sports for various reasons, whether they use it as a form of exercise or as something fun they choose to do with their friends in their free time.
Northwestern is no different, with various intramural sports happening throughout the school year. Some of these sports include 5-on-5 basketball, racquetball, bean bags (or cornhole, if you’re weird), flag football, table tennis, Spikeball, chess and many more. Personally, I play on an intramural basketball team. Even though we are terrible as a basketball team (0 wins in our last *infinity* games), we play because we enjoy spending time with our friends and having fun.
NW prides itself on its unique, close-knit community — it’s one of the reasons why I became an RA in Coly — and intramurals play a role in that community. This is especially true in the men’s dorms, connecting people from different buildings. I cannot tell you how many new people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made from playing with (and against) people in intramurals. Despite this, a large portion of the NW student body — athletes — are barred from participating in intramurals while their sport is in season. This should change.
Coaches often do not allow their players to participate in intramurals due to fear of injury, but students are more likely to get injured by slipping on the ice on the sidewalk, driving to practicum opportunities or tripping over their shoelaces. Intramural sports are not nearly as intense or physically demanding as their varsity-level counterparts, and injuries are rare.
College athletes are adults and know their bodies best. They know when they are just messing around and having fun versus when they are pushing themselves too far. Yet, I’ve had several friends who have had to sit out of intramurals, not being able to play ball with all their buddies because their coach told them they couldn’t participate.
Apart from the injury concern, athletes should have an outlet to let go of their responsibilities and simply enjoy themselves. College sports can often become draining; when you add the stresses of challenging school work, a job or other extracurricular activities, you have an equation that equals a very high-stress schedule for our student-athletes.
Intramurals are one way these student-athletes can let loose and forget about the things that they have to get done, even if just for an hour or so. I recently was told by a classmate, a student-athlete, that college sports should be more like an academic major. We all have majors which are the primary focus of our education. In the same way, college sports are the primary focus of student-athletes’ extracurricular life. With academic majors, we also take other general education or elective courses outside our major. I am enrolling in golf class after spring break, not because it will help me attain a biblical and theological studies degree, but because I think it will be fun – a nice break from my more serious classes. In the same way, student-athletes should be able to participate in intramurals even though their main focus is their varsity sport.