There is more to University of Utah sports than the teams that compete in the Pac-12. Club sports give students the opportunity to play a sport that does not face typical conference competition, and there are also intramural sports that students can join and become a part of for just $10.
“The biggest thing [about intramural sports] is just being involved,” said competitive sports intern Jake Myers. “People have found in studies that the more students are involved and the more engaged in the university, the better their grades and attention rates are.”
That’s not to say intramural sports are the only way to get involved, according to Myers, but it is one of the many routes people take. Being involved with other organizations and meeting new students is one way students can dive into the college experience.
“Sports are a great avenue that people love, so it is just a great way to keep kids involved,” Myers said. “Also, exercise, health and wellness is a big thing. It’s all great. It’s a great way to keep a healthy lifestyle.”
One U student who has benefited from joining an intramural squad is Chris Perkes. One day he and his roommates saw a flyer for intramural sports on campus, and it caught their attention.
“They just roped me into playing flag football, which is not my favorite sport, but then I just did intramural sports ever since then,” Perkes said. “It was just a good way to do sports. I met a lot of people, and I’m working for the program.”
Intramural sports not only offer the generic sports from soccer, basketball, flag football, softball and volleyball, it also offers some unique ones like canoe battleship, dodgeball and floor hockey.
Myers said he is looking to expand more and more, and he is thinking about adding sports like racquetball, wallyball, cricket and some international games to broaden the spectrum. If students can think of something everyone generally plays, they can do it or at least try it at some point in the semester, according to Myers.
Ping pong is one of those sports in the intramural lineup. Myers said they only play a one-night ping pong tournament, but with other sports like soccer, it is played over six to eight weeks.
“I would definitely say soccer is the biggest [in popularity], numbers wise definitely from fan participants. They also have the largest rosters,” Myers said. “Second is probably basketball. People enjoy the other ones, but it seems the traditional ones draw more attention.”
While soccer may have a little bit more draw to it than some of the other sports, Myers said every sport reaches an individual. Their main drive behind the sports that are offered is for people to have fun and be a part of a competitive atmosphere. It often gets competitive with the people on the court and field, but according to Myers, him and his team want it that way.
The winning team of any sport is given an intramural champion t-shirt, and a sportsmanship award was recently added this year. Each night someone is honored and receives the best sportsmanship award which is a $10 gift card from the University Federal Credit Union.
“That’s really what people strive for,” Myers said. “Those are our two main things, but we do want to try to look into trying to keep stats in a way. It wouldn’t necessarily be the MVP, but maybe for soccer and basketball, it would be who was the highest scorer.”
For any freshmen, transfer students or current students who are on the fence about whether or not they should join an intramural sport, Myers says ‘why not?’
“I think people do get a little hesitant about playing with people they don’t know,” Perkes said. “What I found is that sports kind of brings everyone together in a really good way.”