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What’s the Risk?


What’s the Risk?



By Matthew A. Gonzales

Southwestern Intramural and Recreational Activities, known from here out as SIRA, offer students the opportunity to improve their physical, scholastic and social selves through a plethora of intramural sports, fitness programs and recreational activities both on and off campus.

The intramural sports alone have garnered a total of 727 participants spread over 8 sports, from Flag Football to Indoor Soccer, Dodgeball to Ultimate Frisbee.

It may come as no surprise, but a large percentage of these 727 participants are also NCAA athletes here at Southwestern University.Nearly 44% of all participants in intramural sports play at least one sport intercolligiately for Southwestern.

That may be becoming a bit problematic for the coaches and teammates of these athletes. One of the school’s top swimmers recently ended his season after suffering from a broken leg playing intramural basketball. This injury prevented him from participating in the Conference Championship meet earlier this month.

Shortly after word broke out, some coaches in the Athletic Department sent out emails to their athletes. The coaches beg the question: “Do I want to win a t-shirt for intramural basketball, or do I want to win a championship ring?”

It is quite obvious that no athlete goes out expecting to get injured. However, athletes make commitments to their school, coaches, and more importantly, their teammates when they compete intercollegiately.

The question on the shoulders of athletes becomes that of taking risks. Is the recreation worth the risk?

Taylor Fann, a sophomore football player and avid participant in intramurals, see them as a way to take a break from his sport. “Intramurals are very fun to play non-competitively,” Fann said. “It brings back memories of the glory days when I would play all the time.”

Although he was more than willing to continue his participation, he did know there was a risk. “You never want to get hurt playing a sport that’s not your own,” Fann said. “I love to play, but I try not to play crazy.”

Fann’s  consideration of his commitment to his team is not uncommon amongst athletes that participate in intramurals.

Most of the athletes are known to take extra precautions when engaged in intramurals.

Coach Tim Byerly, an assistant football coach, seemed to be concerned with the obvious health risks that come from playing but understands it as a way to pass the time. “Players are encouraged to stay away during the season,” Coach Byerly said. “Many football players play; what they do in their free time is their business.”

At the moment, no formal or informal restriction on NCAA athlete participation in intramural sports has been placed by the coaches at Southwestern. It is undetermined if that topic will be discussed or a possibility.

The act of restricting access of participation is something that would have to be agreed upon in consensus with all the coaches, which some of them are neither supporting or against it.

Evan Carlson, a freshman lacrosse player, has not experienced any push from his coaches against participation in intramurals. “There is an entire team of lacrosse players that play basketball,” Carlson said.

He was a bit taken aback when informed of the stance one of the sports was taking on the matter.

“Intramurals are a good way for students that aren’t athletes to get out and try a new sport,” Carlson said.  

It seems, at this point, that the extent of participation and effort given to intramurals  falls on the shoulders of those set to participate in them. It is intrusted to the athletes to carefully weigh the options and risks carefully.

Intramural sports will continue to be the recreational pastime that they are presently.  It would seem that there would be continued participation from Southwestern’s NCAA athletes and non-athletes alike.

These intramural sports are not only help improve physical fitness, but are supposed to be fun and entertaining. They are supposed to be used as a way to unwind.

If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to play an intramural sport, it is highly recommend at least attempting one; you never know what you could get out of it.