After its establishment in 1935, intramural sports teams at UC Davis have been on the rise.
With the availability of enhanced electronic advertising and an expansion of league divisions, winter quarter has brought increasing numbers of participants to IM sports. Social outlets such as Twitter and Facebook function to create awareness among students and alumni about registration times and new league divisions offered.
“Even though the economy may be kind of down, what we’ve found is that people aren’t cutting recreation out of their lives,” said IM sports coordinator Ben Dao. “It’s a combination of factors that account for this increase, but what we’ve really seen is that there has been a big push electronically to bring more people out.”
One measure taken to enhance participation has included creating more divisions that accommodate different skill levels. Just this year, the five-versus-five basketball league included a six-foot and under division, requiring that members be under six feet tall to be eligible. This quarter alone has brought 200 basketball participants to the different divisions, an increase from last quarter’s 178.
Poker Palooza, an annual all-night poker tournament, additionally saw a rise in participation of 70 participants in comparison to last year.
“It’s important that we provide divisions that are appropriate for all skill levels,” said Andy Ramirez, assistant director of competitive sports. “There are those that are there for the competitive aspect, while others are playing more recreationally. Creating different levels is one way we encourage participation.”
The majority of the IM sports division is run and officiated by students. With only four non-affiliated UC Davis students overseeing the program, the 10 managers, 30 supervisors and 70 to 80 officiates are all students. Their work, according to Ramirez, is not a small undertaking, as there are over 2,500 IM sports teams year round with an additional 1,500-sport club athletes participating in sport clubs on campus.
“There are challenges between balancing work and school, but my experience as a supervisor has been very positive,” said senior communication major and civil engineering and construction minor Tyler Scudero. “For three years I was pursuing mechanical engineering, before I discovered that my true vocational desire was in sports and recreation. College is very academically driven, and intramural sports can provide a release away from school.”
One of the long-term goals for coordinators of intramural sports has been to generate more female participation. Though the largest participating leagues are the co-ed recreation IM teams, fewer women leagues are available due to a shortage of female participants. This results in vacancies on existing teams that must be filled in order to play.
“There is a large amount of participation in co-recreational leagues, but there tends to be a decline when we look at women’s leagues,” Scudero said. “There have been different efforts in marketing to promote more participation, and usually word-of-mouth can be the best way.”
Generally, IM sports have served as a means of mocking the competitive nature of sports and strengthening ties among students and the community. The intramural sports program additionally provides incentive to participate by offering the division champions the opportunity to have their picture hung up at the ARC, a tradition that has been in effect since the 1960s.
“We’ve been archiving photos since the ’60s, and occasionally alumni will contact us, asking if we can send them their photo,” Ramirez said. “The Wall of Fame is just something that is unique about our intramural sports program at Davis.”
Students can find more information about IM sports sign ups at campusrecreation.ucdavis.edu/intramural, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at email@example.com.