- You've made it to college. Congratulations! Now that you're settled into your new dorm, figured out where all of your classes are and found the closest Starbucks, you get to explore the many activities your school offers. Intramural sports offer college students an array of sports to try, but is it for you? Here's what you should know and consider before you sign up.
1. It's a great, low-key way to meet people from around the campus.
You may have heard from friends and family that college is where you will make lifelong friends, and it's true. You will! However, that doesn't mean making friends in college is easy. If you're not as comfortable striking up a conversation with the person next to you in your economics class, you might find it easier when you're warming up for a flag football or basketball game. The shared interest and ability to focus on your physical activity takes some pressure off you to say the perfect thing. Throw in the fun of a post-game pizza, and you will start to make those memories your friends and family promised.
2. You can maintain your skills– or try new sports – without the time crunch and expectations of intercollegiate sports.
Intercollegiate sports are a gigantic commitment, no matter what division your school is in. But passing on that kind of commitment does not mean you are giving up the sports you loved in high school. Intramural sports are not just a great way to keep up your ability to play lacrosse or softball. Additionally, it's a way for you to stay in shape in school, and maybe even try a sport you always wanted to do but couldn't because of previous sports commitments.
3. It is a time commitment.
One of the most important things you will learn in college is how to manage your time. It's not like high school when your schedule was well set and pretty much made for you. Your classes aren't every day, and you need to figure out for yourself how much time you will need for studying, extracurriculars, working and having fun. When signing up for intramurals, ask the organizers what sort of time commitment is expected of you. Is it a soccer league, with weeks of games and some practices, too? Or is a one-weekend beach volleyball tournament? Do you have fraternity/sorority meetings, student government or a work-study job? Be honest with yourself about if you can balance everything you want to do. But if you do find yourself a little overloaded, the beauty of intramurals is it's not a four-year commitment.
4. You will want to have the proper attire.
Your team may have matching jerseys. Your team might have a "come as you are" policy. To make sure you're comfortable on the playing field, outfit yourself in clothes that are made for athletic activity, not the t-shirt you got for going to the freshman picnic. Think about getting clothes that are moisture-wicking that won't weigh a million pounds once you start running all over the field or court. Consider buying neutral colors or your school colors to match anything your intramural team may want to wear.
5. College is stressful, and sports can help relieve that.
All of the things we've already talked about – making friends, time management, figuring out where you belong in college – can add to your stress level when you are in college. Throw in the desire to earn good grades, higher-level classes, dating and perhaps some concern about life beyond college, and you're looking at an insane amount of stress. But don't despair! Exercise is a proven stress buster. The endorphins you generate when getting active can relieve stress, as can the social connections you make playing sports.
6. Find some leadership opportunities.
Whether you're the captain of the three-on-three basketball team, or you're organizing a golf tournament, intramural sports gives you a chance to show more than your ability to grab a rebound. To find success in sports, you need leadership, organization and the ability to know when to take charge, and when to step back and let the team play. These qualities are important for life beyond college, so it's helpful to hone in on them while playing intramural sports.
Now that you know a little bit more of what you are getting into, go check out the intramural sports offerings at your school. Find out what you need to do to jump in and play along!
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