Intramurals on Campus

Intramurals give college students the chance to compete against their peers. Learn more about college intramurals and the opportunities go join a team at your school.

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Between the dorm lifestyle, classes and studying, you’ll likely be sitting around quite a bit in college. So how do you stay active, both during freshman year and beyond? Intramural sports are a great way to meet friends, have fun and stay fit in a stress-free, recreational environment.

What Are Intramurals?

Intramurals are organized sports played within a single school. They’re recreational in nature, and participation is open to all students (and sometimes faculty as well).

Eligibility and registration vary from school to school, so it’s a good idea to check your college’s intramural sports website for specifics.

Intramural sports date back to 1913, when the University of Michigan and Ohio State University created the first two departments. Since then, intramural programs have sprung up in colleges throughout the United States. Whether you attend a commuter school, a small liberal arts college, or a large university, chances are good that there will be intramural sports opportunities.

Intramural vs. Intercollegiate: What’s the Difference?

In intercollegiate athletics, such as NCAA-regulated and club sports, schools compete against other schools. NCAA-regulated teams are usually high profile, and they’re more difficult to be part of than club teams. They also generally require more time.

By contrast, intramural athletics are organized completely within the college as teams play against other teams in the same school. Rules are usually slightly different, with smaller teams than usual. Flag football, volleyball, softball and basketball are popular intramural sports.

Compared with intercollegiate sports, the competition in intramurals is friendlier and less intense. Also, intercollegiate athletics already have established teams, whereas with intramural sports, you can create your own team each semester.

Why Play Intramural Sports?

Intramural sports are intended for students, so playing on a team doesn’t take up too much of your time. You can stay in shape and have fun without worrying about practice or games conflicting with your studies.

Intramural sports are also stress-free, casual and open to beginners and experts alike. Cornell University, for example, makes a point of creating “fun and inviting playing environments for all skill levels.”

With such a variety of students playing, intramurals are also a great way to meet other students.

How to Get Involved

Eligibility and registration vary from school to school, so it’s a good idea to check your college’s intramural sports website for specifics. At the University of Michigan, registration is open to anyone with a Department of Recreational Sports membership. At the University of Virginia, registration is limited to students and faculty.

A registration fee is usually required. At Florida State University, nearly all intramural sports are free; at Ohio State, registration for most teams costs $80. Registration dates vary by sport, and it’s a good idea to register early.

Another great way to get involved with intramurals is by joining the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association. NIRSA is a not-for-profit organization designed to promote intramural sports throughout the United States and abroad. With more than 1,000 student members, NIRSA offers leadership opportunities on state, regional and national levels.

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