Intramural sports break down gender barriers

By Michael Battista

When I was growing up, I never saw gender as a dividing factor in sports. As someone who enjoys playing soccer and baseball, I always liked being able to participate in activities with girls.

While professional sports like to keep men and women separated, intramural sports at the College have helped break down gender walls. Many of the College’s intramural sports options can be played in either gender-specific leagues or co-recreational leagues, which is something I highly admire.

Students participate in co-ed sports without gender-specific rules. (Twitter)

Shawn Dean, the coordinator for sports clubs and intramural sports at the College, said he’s seen the program be very successful during his time running it. With volleyball being one of the more successful programs, Dean said certain groups on campus really enjoy the games.

“I think (intramural sports) are very popular, especially within Greek life,” Dean said. “Fraternities and sororities team up together and they get awarded points for participating.”

I went to a Jesuit prep school in Jersey City, N.J., for high school, which is an all-boy school. When I was in high school, I saw many of my friends take part in intramural sports and playing games using the full extent of the rules. When I began paying attention to the co-ed version of the games we would play at my high school, I started to notice the rules were being bent.

In some co-ed programs, the guys are required to pass the ball to a girl in soccer before any shots can be taken. In the game of baseball, if a guy walks then the girl who is next in line to bat is given a choice of whether she wants to be automatically sent to first base or bat. In basketball, extensive defense around a girl is prohibited and only one-on-one blocking is allowed.

I’ve never liked these sorts of rules, which vary depending on the program, because I always felt they implied that one gender was better than the other at sports. While arguments can be made such as the fact that guys usually have larger physiques than girls, I still think it’s wrong to assume that one cannot compete with another athlete just because of their gender. 

I’m happy to say that the College’s rules when it comes to intramural sports do not single out one gender. Instead, any rule-change applies to both guys and girls.  There are no exceptions based on gender.

At the College, intramural indoor soccer rosters need to consist of five players and a goalkeeper. Those five players can either be three males and two females, or vice versa. In Greek league softball at the College, each team must consist of at least four of each gender. While an alternating gender batting line-up still exists, the rules are still applied evenly to both guys and girls.

“We changed the format of our leagues this year,” Dean said. “We added a bunch of open leagues, specifically softball. There were no co-ed modifications for that. It was sort of a test run by us to see if that would make sense for the future and so far it’s been positive feedback.”

The College’s intramural programs abide by rules set forth by a parent organization, the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association, which many other institutions use as well, Dean said.

I’m extremely happy to see students get the chance to play sports without gender-specific restrictions at the College. As a freshman, I loved participating in intramural games and I always tell others to give it a try. It’s a great way to bond with freshman floormates and build a community that doesn’t single anyone out.

Students share opinions around campus

“Should there be gender-specific rules for co-ed sports?”

Jack Purcell, a junior marketing major.

“No, I don’t think there should be. Everyone should have an equal playing field.”

Levi Klinger-Christiansen, a senior political science and English double major.

“It seems like it’s mostly up to the teams.”