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Intramural sports keep students fit, lower stress

Nick Sellers

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Despite large academic workloads and other constant pressures, many college students still try to find time for physical activity. Outdoor exercise has been shown to help reduce stress and improve mental health – issues with which a typical college student routinely struggles. Fortunately for University of Alabama students, the Division of Student Affairs of University Recreation offers numerous intramural sports services for students and staff.

Intramurals at the University, organized and coordinated by the Rec, offer a wide variety of athletic leagues that reflect the diverse interests held by the student body. In just the summer semester alone, registration is open for flag football, volleyball, racquetball, soccer, basketball and ultimate Frisbee.

Darrell Hargreaves, assistant director of intramural and club sports, said many benefits exist from students participating in intramurals.

“By participating, you develop teamwork, social skills, sportsmanship, civility and enhancement of your physical fitness,” Hargreaves said. “It also provides a stress reliever from academics.”

Intramural sports at the University also offer many job opportunities, employing over 200 students every year, according to its website.

“Working for intramural sports gives our students opportunities to have crucial conversations by refereeing and supervising their own classmates and peers,” Hargreaves said. “The skills they learn by working with intramural sports … can help in any field they choose to work in when they leave the Capstone.”

All first-time intramural participants must create an IM Leagues account, which can be accessed at imleagues.com. Once created, students can use their account to create or join a team for any sport. Athletes must also pay an entry fee and forfeit deposit, which both vary by sport.

Though many different competitions exist for intramural participants, Hargreaves said football, basketball, soccer and softball are the most popular.

One of the biggest challenges college students face in keeping up with physical activities is the sheer time commitment of their studies and other ventures. Hargreaves said the flexibility of scheduling allows players the convenience of selecting match times they can commit to.

“Intramural sports programming is offered in the evening and nights when most classes are not offered,” Hargreaves said. “Furthermore, we allow the students to pick their times and days.”

He said scheduling is done on a first come, first served basis, so there is no guarantee of obtaining a convenient time. The online registration and scheduling system aids in that process.

Both student-athletes and staff of intramural sports at the University – of which there were 11,000 in the last spring and fall semesters – benefit from participating in competition with their peers, Hargreaves said.

“Most student participants and employees don’t see the immediate impact of those benefits when they are here,” he said. “But after they leave, they sometimes realize that participating in intramural sports gave them a skill set they currently use in their job after college.”

The Intramural Sports Office, located in the University Recreation Center is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday-Friday. You may email the program at imsports.bama@gmail.com for general information or uaofficials@gmail.com for job inquiries. A full calendar of registration and event times is located at the Rec’s website under the “Intramurals” tab.

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Intramural sports keep students fit, lower stress