The rise of intramural sports at Linfield


Nathan Herde

Students were able to participate in IM flag football this fall semester.

Turns out, you don’t have to be an all-star athlete, or even an athlete at all, to get involved in college sports. In fact, your competitors may be hoping you’ve never played a sport in your life. Sound weird? Well that’s intramural (IM) sports for you. And this year, they’re bigger and better than ever before at Linfield – which is a positive for everyone. 

If you’re looking for a sport where no experience is required, IM may be your best (and only) option. IM is another word for recreational, meaning anyone can join, no matter your athletic achievements, or lack thereof.

Getting involved in IM is more than just a fun after-class activity or the chance to trash-talk your roommate, though. There are actual tangible benefits to participating in sports according to numerous studies. 

With nearly nine times as many one-day tournaments as last year, IM has kicked it up a notch. The plans for this season of IM sports? Two words – big and bold. There are new sports that have yet to be introduced to Linfield University’s IM platter, and opportunities for everyone to try.

In the 2021-2022 school year at Linfield, the Associated Students of Linfield University (ASLU) put on three full IM seasons, and two one-day tournaments. This upcoming year, ASLU wants students to feel prioritized, especially during times when students’ mental health is struggling. To do this, ASLU plans on doubling the amount of IM sports tournaments offered. 

Players from the baseball team joined fall IM Flag Football before their spring season starts. (Nathan Herde)

“The biggest difference from this year to last year is the greater quantity of IM sports,” said Diego Arredondo, Sports Director for ASLU.  “We are going from three full seasons, to six full seasons, and two one-day tournaments, to 17 one-day tournaments.”

One-day tournaments are the equivalent to speed-dating for sports. They’re a way to dip your toes in the water of many different sports, without having to completely commit. Put together your dream team and compete for a few hours to win the ultimate prize: bragging rights on campus.

This drastic increase in both full seasons and one-day tournaments is going to be a huge opportunity for students to get involved, while taking care of physical health at the same time.

The full IM sports season this fall includes flag football, soccer and volleyball, each spanning about two weeks, similar to last year. The ability for students to participate in these seasons gives them the chance to hang out with friends while staying active and, who doesn’t want to relive their glory days from being an athlete in high school? (Well, maybe not everyone, but that is the beauty of IM sports: you don’t have to have any athletic background to play them.) Arredondo emphasizes how IM sports are an engaging activity available for students, no pressure involved. 

“It’s a great way to meet people at Linfield, it helps you stay active and it is just a lot of fun,” said Arredondo.

For those who are more of the “one-day-is-enough-of-a-commitment-for-me,” type, there are plenty of options for you. In the past month at Linfield, a few of the one-day tournament options have included cornhole, spikeball and the newest addition to the lineup, gaming. E-sports, brand new this year at Linfield, are a part of the IM rotation, with a Mario Kart tournament to kick them off. 

When you think of sports, you might not think of Mario and Luigi, but they have a place in Linfield’s IM lineup, too. E-sports are offered for students who may not be feeling particularly inclined to compete in flag football, but still want a chance to be competitive. It’s not easy to find local video game tournaments, so Arredondo took matters into his own hands and is hosting them himself. 

If the bragging rights and Mario Kart didn’t sell you, IM sports are also co-ed. There is no room for exclusion here, meaning anyone can play the sport they want. Many students never get the chance to play co-ed unless they are playing through a recreational program, and many girls don’t get the chance to play sports like football. IM sports is the solution.

ASLU is seeing an increase in numbers, as well as repeat participants. Last year’s flag football numbers were showing 40-45 students, whereas this year has been doubled. Arredondo said that eight teams signed up to play this year, bringing nearly 90 students onto Maxwell Field and Memorial Stadium to play some good ol’ flag football.  

Students are having fun and coming back for more. Getting involved couldn’t be easier, just keep an eye out for a social media post from ASLU’s instagram, which posts links to sign up weekly. 

It’s easy to sign up, and it’s easy to play. Grab a group of friends and put yourself down for one of the tournaments or full seasons, and get out there. You don’t even have to win to get something out of the experience. 

Studies have shown that participating in sports not only helps to get you outside and moving around, but they can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression as well.

Senior Kate French reaches for an opponent in an IM Flag Football game.

According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, 44% of college students are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and researchers have shown that participating in sports can help reduce these symptoms. Not everyone is able to, or wants to, play sports at the collegiate level, which is why intramural sports are a great option for those who want low commitment and high rewards. 

The perks of participating in sports are undeniable, and for many, IM is the only option to participate.“There are a lot of both mental and physical benefits that come from playing IM sports,” Arredondo said, “boosts of energy, decrease in anxiety, better sleep; those are just a few of [them].”

Physical activity is crucial for students to improve and maintain good mental health. Going for a walk, working out and participating in IM sports are all options to boost spirits when you’re stressed about school work, looming graduation or the state of the world. 

The results are widely positive and straightforward. 

“Not only did it get me connected with the Linfield community,” said Ruby Earhart, a 2021 IM co-ed volleyball champion, “but it also reminded me of how fun my sport was.”

This increase in IM sports this year was designed to benefit the students. So, get outside and get involved. Participate with your friends and see if your mood is enlightened. Worst case scenario? You get a bit of exercise and vitamin D.