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April 18, 2004

Intramurals Relieve Stress, Promote Sociability

FROM THE FIELD HOUSES AND THE PRACTICE FIELDS AND THE STUDENT UNION LAWNS comes a creative panoply of intramural and recreational activities, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Designed as stress relievers and social lubricators, these modern day diversions have proliferated into a wide range of innovative, experimental and offbeat activities. Some are hybrids of two or three sports, some are indoor versions of outdoor sports, and some have no relation whatsoever to any sport.

Intramurals are not just volleyball, ping pong and basketball any more.

A conspicuous case #1 is the ambitious intramurals program of Florida State U., which offers 51 activities including go-carts, sports trivia, spades tournaments, bowling and miniature golf. “We want to get everybody active,” says Mark Crager, FSU’s intramurals director. “We’re here to provide relief for students, to help them get away from their daily stresses.”

New ideas get transferred and morphed from one campus to the next. Laura Walling, Mississippi State's director of recreational sports, says “We’ll take anything from anybody, without much shame. We’ll do anything to find something new and different.”

The following are sundry hybrid and oddball sports that have been tracked by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA):

Hooverball: a hybrid of tennis, volleyball and medicine ball, played with an 8-foot volleyball net.

Two-Ball Indoor Soccer: two balls are in play, and each team plays offense and defense simultaneously. Perhaps this should be called ChaosBall?

Flickerball: ultimate disc played with a Nerf football.

Box Lacrosse: an indoor lacrosse, with a shot clock, smaller goals and all players are forwards.

Uni-Hock: floor hockey with plastic sticks.

Tower Ball: played 4-on-4, similar to ultimate disc, played with a playground ball.

Pillow Polo: a version of floor hockey with players riding scooter boards.

Goal Ball: hollow balls with bells inside are rolled across goal lines. Played by blind people and sighted people with blindfolds.

Others: Four Square, Futsal, Footbag, Foosball, Boxball, Capture The Flag, Melonball, Quickball, Pickleball, Dodgeball, Frisbee Golf, Flag Football, Darts, Underwater Hockey, Floopball, Paintball, Orienteering, Mountain Biking, and on and on and on.

With colleges competing with one another to get every edge possible to attract the best student population, intramural and recreational sports--er, activities--have come to be seen as a growing attraction that helps in the comprehensive recruiting process for prospective students.

What’s next? Jump Rope? Video Games? Wales Tales? Snowman Building?

(this 397 word excerpt was distilled from a 2816 word article in the April 2004 issue of Athletic Business)