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Intramurals: Competitive or Fun Leisure Activity?

By: Nick Welsh

It’s plain and simple to me – intramural athletes are too competitive.

Sure, not all of them, but enough of them and you know who you are. When players are too competitive, it takes the fun out of the game; people don’t want to lose 10-3 because the other team is super competitive.

Intramurals, in my opinion, are supposed to be a fun way to stay active and enjoy a leisure activity with your friends. When players become too competitive and start getting aggressive, it takes the fun out of the game.

Let’s stop taking our intramurals so seriously, folks. Nobody wants to get hurt here – least of all me. We’re not talking select teams with tryouts, there is a diverse talent pool in intramurals, and when you come up against teams that have been playing together for years, its dangerous for inexperienced players.

The ice hockey intramural league is a non-hitting league, primarily due to different skill levels, females in the league, and to prevent injuries. Enough players don’t follow this rule and I don’t like the results. When the game starts to get rough, the refs don’t call anything. I play with a knee brace, meaning if I get hit, I am done for the season. And my protection (the refs) don’t care. This rough play escalates to fights.

In my experience, I have seen fighting in ice hockey and soccer, and have heard of fighting in basketball. Fighting isn’t part of the deal here, and when it gets to that point, it takes the fun out of the game. It makes it hard for referees/officials to police the game when it starts getting out of hand. As a referee, you don’t want to get involved and hurt yourself. We all have to go to school/work the next day. No one is going to “the show.”

The referees have a challenging job to do across all intramural sports; you would have to pay me a lot of money to have to deal with what they go through on a game to game basis. But they need to protect the players. The referees take a lot of heat. They make one penalty or give one yellow card out, and all the players are swearing at them or telling them they’re not doing their job correctly.

It was just the other day when I was playing in an intramural soccer match, and the ref made a call for a free-kick after a player was knocked down. Rightfully so, it should have been a free-kick. But the other team didn’t like the call and started yelling at the ref, he told the players to calm down or a yellow card would be issued. He was trying to keep the game under control. After the referee turned his back, one player mocked the ref, gave him the middle finger salute, and inappropriately danced behind him. I couldn’t believe it — all about a little free kick in an intramural soccer game that meant nothing.

Hey guys, these refs and commissioners are students. Relax.

Commissioners face a whole lot more criticism and feedback from players. In the hockey league last year, I heard that the commissioner almost quit because he was so sick of being ridiculed every game. Players would tell him what should and shouldn’t be called as penalties, but he wasn’t the ref, he couldn’t make those calls. I have personally seen him go on the ice in his shoes to stop fighting in the league. He handed out a lot of suspensions and fines, but those don’t teach the players anything, sadly.

We need to protect our players, referees, and commissioners and give the players harsher consequences. Most of all, we need to calm down as athletes. We’re adults. Let’s start acting like it.

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