Getting Creative with Competitive Sports

The Intramural Sports Program at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) first began on October 31, 1952 with a softball game between the faculty and the elderly.

Fast forward to today and a campus visitor can now find students participating in wheelchair basketball, soccer dart tournaments or the Sacramento State Adventure Run. All of these unique options are what Andrew Reddish, assistant director of Intramurals and Student Personnel Development at Sacramento State, said helps meet the body’s ever-changing needs. student

“In order for our Intramural Sports Program to change and evolve with our students, it is important to offer a variety of recreational activities on different days and times,” said Reddish. “To keep up with our students, we conduct a semester survey and talk to our participants to receive feedback on their experience. We can’t just say we know what our students want. We need to hear from them.”

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Creative offerings can also be found at the University of Connecticut (UConn) where skydiving, Timbersports, innertube water polo and bubble soccer are available for students to participate in.

Bhavin Parekh, the associate director of Competitive Sports at UConn, said his department’s focus is simply to get students active no matter what the activity.

EXTRA CREDIT: Dive deeper into Sacramento State and UConn.

“We’re trying to offer as many options as possible,” Parekh said. “Everyone talks about mental health so much now and being active goes along with that. It’s about feeling connected to campus.”

As Parekh pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need for connection to the forefront of UConn Rec. During this time, he said they offered socially distanced sports such as curling, Kan Jam and mini golf.

“We tried to offer some outliers that didn’t ask too much commitment from the students,” Parekh said. “Intramurals are always moving. Right now it seems that intramural numbers are dropping across the nation. We are trying to figure out how to keep students engaged. We still offer the traditional formats, but we want to challenge what else we can offer. “

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One effective strategy both Parekh and Reddish found is to provide one-day and weekend tournaments in a variety of activities. This is where Sacramento State’s Adventure Race hopes to see continued success.

“It’s a unique program that we run here that combines climbing, swimming, running and cycling,” said Reddish. “Teams earn points in each zone with a unique scoring system and the team with the most points at the end of the race is the winner. It is an energizing and special event that brings together many departments to collaborate.”

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Another way to meet students is by starting a free agent system to join intramural teams of their liking. This allows them to create their own connections. Parekh said they distribute this structure through Fusion’s rec management software. At Sacramento State, Reddish said they employ IMLeagues to connect participants with their creative programming.

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But even the best strategies and ideas can fail if they are not managed properly. Saying “no” can sometimes lead a program to greater success in the future.

“The trick is to try to stay within your means,” Parekh said. “There are many challenges that arise. You have to be realistic about what you can accommodate and stay within what is reasonable. Understand the balance. Sometimes you have to say no, but we offer opportunities for most groups. In the end, do your best to realistically improve the lives of students.”


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