Last year, Rayna Mook, a sophomore undeclared liberal arts major, joined Temple intramurals, a collection of structured leagues activities, so she could continue playing volleyball after high school without the intense commitment and competition a club team requires.
Mook has been participating in intramural volleyball ever since freshman year, and this year she also decided to join a flag football team. Intramurals offered her an avenue to meet new friends and release stress in a healthy way.
“It’s such a good positive energy to have, and there have been times where I felt stuck on assignments and then I go to my intramural game and then I just feel like I have a clear mind and then I’m able to get everything done,” Mook said.
Students should take advantage of the social, physical and emotional benefits of intramurals to balance their friendships, exercise and mental health in college.
Intramurals offer students a safe and structured space to participate in recreational sports, including basketball, cornhole, dodgeball, flag football, floor hockey, kickball, soccer, softball and volleyball. Temple leagues, which can be men’s, women’s or co-recreational, compete against each other in tournament style on Main Campus. To sign up, each team pays a $30 to $60 registration fee.
For some sports, like basketball, there is an option to sign up for either low or high competition. Students don’t have to be highly skilled in any athletics to participate, as the program’s main goal is simply to get students to have recreational fun with friends.
“We have a good amount of students that just love to come out and play an activity with their friends,” said Jay Gallagher, associate director of campus recreation programs.
While intramural sports already provide students with a fun way to spend their time physically, there’s also a positive correlation between intramurals and students’ mental health. The sports offer access to social connections, an outlet to ease stress and a space for healthy competition, according to a 2020 survey by John Brown University.
Nearly 75 percent of college students experience moderate to serious psychological distress, according to the American College Health Association’s Spring 2023 National College Health Assessment. Intramural sports can be a healthy coping mechanism for students struggling with their mental health because it encourages critical thinking which helps exercise the brain.
“We try to create as many opportunities for students to be able to recreate outside of their academic time, whether it’s just going to the fitness center, going to the wall, participating in intramural sports,” Gallagher said. “We just like to have as many different opportunities for studies to get out and just blow off some steam or just stay healthy.”
Some students struggle to maintain healthy habits in college due to busy schedules and occupied social lives, however, intramural sports are designed to adjust to students’ needs and schedules, as students only have to play two games a week, stealing little time from their packed schedules. In addition, the captain of each team gets to mark days that work best for everyone to ensure games fit as many players’ schedules as possible.
“Time commitment is minimal for most people, maybe one or two games a week for an hour,” Gallagher said. “So it’s able to allow them the opportunity to still stay active and hopefully within the time constraints of what they have.”
Intramural sports take place both in and outdoors, so students can participate in them during the whole academic year.
“It’s a great time, and I get some good cardio in,” said Liam Humphrey, a junior political science and global studies major. “I think it’s a really healthy outlet.”
Humphrey plays on the same volleyball team as Mook, and the two became friends when she randomly joined his team. While participating on a team, students get the chance to exercise without sacrificing their social lives.
A significant aspect of intramural sports is team collaboration, and working toward a common goal helps develop friendships, College Stats reported.
Students get the chance to meet people with similar interests and build connections off the field. Classrooms may not always offer the environments for students to socialize and meet other people, but fun, social environments promoted by intramural sports can easily foster new friendships.
Some students may be nervous to try new sports activities in college, especially if they aren’t highly skilled or have limited experience. However, intramurals create a welcoming space for any student wanting to try something new.
For a fun way to maintain mental, physical and social well-being, students should sign up for a campus intramural team.