Unless your team is headed to the playoff tournament, many intramural sports at the University of Connecticut are already wrapping up their seasons – most teams that don’t advance to the playoffs have a total of about four or five games.
With all spring sports beginning their seasons on Jan. 31, innertube water polo ended its season on Feb. 21, basketball will end Feb. 23 and soccer will end Mar. 2, according to the IM Leagues page.
It may seem as if seasons are short, though the sports do run for about half the semester – six to eight weeks – for both fall and spring. But there are reasons why UConn Recreation runs the program in the way that it does, according to Bhavin Parekh, UConn Recreation associate director for intramurals and club sports.
The main reason is to be diverse in terms of which sports are offered, and there isn’t enough time, resources or interest available to keep all sports running for the full semester.
“We do want to have a variety of what we offer…now obviously, we’re more of a basketball school so if we had basketball year round, I think some students would be okay with that, but we do want to cater to diverse populations,” Parekh said. “So if you’re not into basketball, we offer volleyball. If you’re not into volleyball, we offer soccer (and so on).”
In terms of participation and team numbers, football, soccer and basketball are the most popular sports. Flag football and innertube water polo have high numbers for participation as well. Popular sports have multiple seasons, so students can participate in the fall and spring, Parekh said.
“Let’s say that you weren’t able to register for the fall season, or you’re on the wait list because it did fill up, you would have the opportunity to maybe still participate in the spring,” Parekh said.
Additionally, UConn Recreation holds one-day or weekend-long tournaments for sports that don’t generate enough interest to have an entire season, Parekh said. Such sports happening this semester include: ultimate Frisbee, flag football, badminton, tennis, softball, basketball and the annual Oozeball tournament, according to the UConn Recreation website.
Intramurals are a good option for students who aren’t playing D-1 and don’t have time for the high level of commitment necessary for club sports. They also act as stress relief for students who still want to play sports and have fun with their friends while trying to balance busy schedules. A season longer than eight weeks might be too large of a commitment for students, Parekh said.
“The longer seasons start tying into club sports a little bit – they practice, they travel and they’ll play. With intramurals, the level of commitment is ‘hey I played (a sport) in high school and unfortunately now I don’t have the time to be an athlete where we practice all the time, but I like (intramurals) because it takes away an hour of my day and I can play each week and stay active,’” Parekh said.
Registration of participants for teams is completely free (except ice hockey) as long as team members are members of the Storrs university community. With UConn being a large university, it’s important to register participants simply to keep track of the numbers. Registered participants – who must sign a waiver during registration – show up on the rosters that are printed before each game.
Thus, students are allowed to register for teams at any time during the season, as long as they complete registration by 4 p.m. on game day. Registration allows for an organized structure that gives Recreation the means to prepare space, staff and equipment adequately, Parekh said.
“We do allow the flexibility of being able to add or join teams whenever participants want, with a little bit of a limitation of just giving us enough time to be able to prepare,” Parekh said.
In the fall, soccer and basketball are offered as co-ed, while they are only offered as single-sex in the spring. Flag football and volleyball are offered as single-sex in the fall, and co-ed in the spring.
Parekh said there’s some strategy behind this decision, as it helps to balance out numbers for each season.
“These are the sports that tend to have – when we offer men’s and women’s – numbers for (single sex) that might be a little lower, so we do try to mix it up in the fall,” Parekh said.
There are also A, B and C leagues, so students can choose which level of competition they want to play in. If there aren’t enough teams signed up for a league, though, it will drop to just A and B, for example.
While intramurals are intended to be a smaller commitment, they can’t be ruled as completely non-binding. Students are expected to uphold the commitment nonetheless, which means having enough players show up to their scheduled games out of respect for the facility, its resources and its opposing team.
“If a team was scheduled for a game and then doesn’t show up, they would be charged a $25 fee,” Parekh said. “And then we do charge a re-entry fee if you want to remain in the league; this way it puts accountability and a sense of commitment on the teams.”
As long as teams pay the forfeit and re-entry fee, they will still be eligible to participate in the playoffs and their records and ratings will remain, though the forfeit will count as a loss, according to the Intramural Sports Participants Guide.
“I think intramurals is a release; it’s a chance for students to still continue (sports) if you played in high school or if you just want to come down and play pick-up with your friends,” Parekh said.
More information about seasonal intramurals and one-day/weekend tournaments and events can be found at http://recreation.uconn.edu/programs/intramural-sports/.