By: Mary Kate Sullivan Crawford, Assistant Director for Intramural Sports, University Recreation & Wellness
In the 90s, Nike unveiled an advertising campaign centered around the slogan, “If you let me play”. The campaign reinforced the notion that sports can empower women and girls beyond the athletic field; that the benefit of sport reaches beyond the sidelines into ‘real life’. In Intramural Sports, we couldn’t agree more that the benefits of sport participation goes far beyond what happens on the playing surface. That’s why we work hard to offer opportunities for all members of the campus community a chance to play.
We offer a wide variety of sports and activities in several different leagues (men’s, women’s, coed, fraternity, and graduate/faculty/staff) and at two levels of competition (a, competitive and b, recreational). Our sports range from traditional team sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, and softball to non-traditional and individual and dual sports like tennis, badminton, whiffle ball, inner tube water polo, and golf. Offering many different sports invites individuals with different backgrounds to participate in our program. Further, offering two levels of competition invites individuals both with and without previous experience opportunities to be successful and have fun while participating in a sport they’ve played for years, or are trying out for the first time.
In addition to the sports and leagues offered, we have policies in place to further encourage participation from all members of our campus community. For example, our gender identity participation policy states “Individuals may participate in Intramural Sports in accordance with their own gender identity regardless of medical intervention.” Although traditional sport participation has been dictated by rigidly defined gender norms, this policy is in place so individuals who identify as trans*, gender non-conforming, or gender variant can participate in a way that best suits their needs. While we are proud to have this policy in place, we are always open to suggestions for improving strategies to better serve the campus community.
One topic often debated in recreation circles are co-ed sport rules. In many of our sports, co-ed leagues are modified by specific rules. These rules were established in order to encourage (require) teams to incorporate women into games in a meaningful way. The rules often reward women’s involvement in a scoring play by adding additional points (I.e. In flag football 9 points are awarded for a touchdown involving a woman versus 6 points if no woman was involved directly in the play). While some may argue there is no longer a “need” for such rules or the rules are not equal, we firmly believe our modified rules establish equity between men and women in our coed leagues. When modifying our sports with co-ed rules, we feel it is important to differentiate between equality and equity. Equality means that everything is equal, but equity takes into account historical and institutional barriers to participation for certain groups, which in this case is women. Equity is providing everyone with the tools and opportunities to be successful. Our co-ed rules provide just that- an opportunity for all members of the campus community to be successful individually and contribute to their team’s success.
Whether you are involved in lots of activities and only have time to play one hour a week, or are looking to participate in all of our 28 unique sports, we have a place for YOU in Intramural Sports.