Last year, Rayna Mook, a sophomore undeclared liberal arts major, joined Temple intramurals, a collection of structured league activities, so she could continue playing volleyball after high school without the intense commitment and competition required of a club team.
Mook has been playing intramural volleyball since her freshman year, and this year she decided to join flag football as well. Intramurals offered her a way to meet new friends and relieve stress in a healthy way.
“Having such good positive energy, and there were times when I felt stuck on tasks, and then I went to my intramural play and then I just felt like I had a clear mind and then I was able to get everything done,” he said is Mook.
Students should take advantage of the social, physical, and emotional benefits of intramurals to balance their friendships, exercise, and mental health in college.
Intramurals offers 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 the main campus. To register, each national team has a 30 to 60 USD registration fee.
For some sports, such as basketball, there is a possibility to register for low or high competition. Students do not need to be highly skilled in athletics to participate, as the main goal of the program is simply to encourage students to have recreational fun with friends.
“We have a good number of students who just like to go out and play with their friends,” said Jay Gallagher, associate director of campus recreation programs.
While intramural sports already provide students with a fun way to physically pass the time, there is also a positive correlation between intramural sports and student mental health. Sports offer access to social connections, an outlet for stress relief and a space for healthy competition, according to according to a 2020 John Brown University survey.
Almost 75 percent of students experience moderate to serious psychological distress, according to National Health Association American College Health Assessment Spring 2023 Intramural sports can be a healthy coping mechanism for students struggling with their mental health because they encourage critical thinking that helps exercise the brain.
“We try to create as many opportunities as possible 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 learning opportunities as possible to get out and just blow off steam or just stay healthy.”
Some students struggle to maintain healthy habits in college due to a busy schedule and busy social life, however, intramural sports are designed to accommodate students’ needs and schedules, as students only have to play two games per week, stealing some time from their packed schedules. In addition, the captain of each team can mark the days that are best for everyone to ensure that matches fit the schedules of as many players as possible.
“The time commitment is minimal for most people, maybe one or two games a week for an hour,” Gallagher said. “So it can allow them the opportunity to continue to be active and hopefully within the time constraints of what they have.”
Intramural sports take place indoors and outdoors, so students can play them throughout the academic year.
“It’s great weather and I’m getting a good cardio workout,” said Liam Humphrey, a political science and global studies student. “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 a chance to exercise without sacrificing their social life.
A significant aspect of intramural sports is teamwork, and working toward a common goal helps develop friendship, Faculty statistics have been published.
Students have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests and build connections outside the field. Classrooms may not always offer environments for students to socialize and meet other people, but the fun, social environments promoted by intramural sports can easily foster new friendships.
Some students may be nervous about trying new sports activities in college, especially if they are not highly skilled or have limited experience. However, intramural classes create a comfortable space for any student who wants to try something new.
For a fun way to maintain mental, physical and social well-being, students should sign up for an intramural team on campus.