Opinion: Intramurals needs overhauling to benefit students

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Editors Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Tropolitan or its staff members.

Andy Russell 

Contributor

As a senior here at Troy, I’ve had four years to participate in intramural sports. I’ve played flag football, volleyball, indoor soccer and coached women’s flag football teams. Additionally, I’ve been a spectator for basketball and softball games. At this point, I feel like I understand Troy University Intramurals pretty well. One thing seems clear: it’s not about the students. 

The mission statement of Troy Intramurals can be found on its website: “The Troy University Intramural Sports Department serves as a recreational outlet for Troy students. The Troy University Intramural Sports Department’s staff works diligently to ensure the services provided are fair and equitable to all students, as well as creating an environment conducive to positive socialization.” 

While this mission statement sounds nice, it rings hollow. In a perfect world, intramural sports are opportunities for extracurricular enrichment in students’ lives. Intramurals should exist to serve students. As such, the staff and leadership for this division of the university should lead as servants. 

Servant leadership is something every Troy student is probably familiar with. We are taught the concept at IMPACT from Dr. John Kline, and we see it lived out in many areas of the university. In contrast, Troy Intramurals might just be the most self-serving thing on campus. 

Every element of the intramural department — from rules, to scheduling, to communication ­— puts the student body last. In flag football, there is a universally reviled rule called flag guarding. This is a curious rule which is applied differently at Troy than any other university or club I can find on the internet. 

The main problem with Troy’s use of the rule seems to be that it’s designed not for the game to be better, safer or more fair, but rather so that the underqualified officials have an easier rule to enforce. The enjoyment of the student is placed behind the ease of the employee. This goes against the core mission of our university. 

A similar line of thinking can be seen in intramurals scheduling. The timing of seasons is always done in a way that best fits the intramurals employees. I have seen a football season take place in one week, while other sports last weeks for a team and two days for another. This sure doesn’t feel “fair and equitable to all students.” 

Most students will tell you they perceive bias in officiating and scheduling for certain groups. On one occasion, a game seemed certain to be rained out, but the intramural department didn’t want to reschedule it. They waited until the hour of the game to officially call things off, which meant team members had risked going out in dangerous weather just on the off chance something might change to better suit the intramural department. Students were the last thing considered.

The most recent action that shows an incredibly obvious lack of regard for students by the intramurals department comes in the form of banning fans at basketball games. A Google search on the topic reveals nothing similar from any other school. Has Troy found a new low in intramurals history? The reasoning for the ban is that there will be no seating next time intramural basketball occurs. 

As a graduating senior this reason seems very punitive and devoid of even a casual consideration of what students might actually want. Anyone who has ever attended a sporting event will tell you that watching can be just as fun as playing, and any player will tell you that it’s not as fun without your fans. This move is strongly against the enjoyment of the students. 

If it’s so anti-student, the question of why it’s happening has to be re-examined. The intramurals department has two reasons. First, they want to move the sport into the nicer building that is in a better location for them. Second, they want to have nothing to do with controlling a crowd. 

The first issue essentially posits that their convenience is more important than the student experience. The second ensures their employees perform as little work as possible. Crowd control would be too much to ask of these employees whom the department clearly has no trust in. 

The “fan ban” has stunned every student I’ve come across and every adult at the university I’ve talked to. The solutions to this problem are myriad. Keep basketball in the current building, even if it’s not as sexy. Perhaps even put that to a student vote. Have the paid employees be willing to take some crowd responsibility like they do at many other universities. 

No matter what, not allowing fans at basketball games in the future is a shame and doesn’t serve students. Banning fans in Spring 2019 shows that the problem is much deeper. If it stays through the season, I expect to see more and more cuts made to every aspect of intramurals, except the paychecks. If Troy has made our minds think, we won’t support this. If Troy has made our hearts feel, we won’t like this. If Troy has made our bodies act, we won’t stand for this. The “fan ban” from the intramural department doesn’t support students, but I hope Troy University still does.

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