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The return of intramurals at U of T: in conversation with Michael Davidson

Team sports limited to dodgeball, focus on single and double sports
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CELENE CZARNOTA/THE VARSITY
CELENE CZARNOTA/THE VARSITY

Intramural sports are more than what’s on the field. They are the stress relievers of upcoming exams, and they serve as a means to distract you from the student loans you’ve taken on — and there aren’t many feelings that surpass yelling, “Goal!” at the top of your lungs. Obviously, COVID-19 has stunted our plans for a breakout season of our favourite sports, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I sat down with Michael Davidson, the vice-president responsible for intramurals at Victoria College and an intramural sports council representative, and a fourth-year student studying ethics, society & law, to see what he had planned in hopes of getting some good news about intramurals.

Davidson explained that COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the students involved in intramurals for the winter semester of last year. “It left a lot of disappointed players who were in the midst of their playoffs, who were reaching for that championship and they couldn’t quite get there,” Davidson said. Intramurals were also cancelled for summer as well, leaving no chance for a continuation of that season.

But luckily, Davidson had some good news: “We are very excited that there is going to be a cautious return to play this fall.”

He stressed that things will look much different than they typically do. Usually there are a multitude of team sports, but the only team sport available will be dodgeball with four people on each side. So although intramurals will be making a triumphant return, there will be some caveats to what sports will be available.

Although you won’t be able to play popular team sports like soccer or basketball, Davidson explained that a number of single and partner sports will be readily available, such as badminton, spikeball, washer toss, and bocce ball. “It’s different than usual, not quite the same athletic pursuit involved, but it’s a good way to get active,” he said.

So, how soon can we expect intramurals to return?

Some sports have just returned and the rest will be returning over the next couple of weeks. There are multiple captains meeting this week to further discuss the nature of how each sport will proceed and to make sure all the sports are being played as safe as possible to ensure zero new cases of COVID-19.

As one could imagine, intramurals offer an interesting dilemma: it is difficult to find a balance of keeping the student body happy and engaged with extracurriculars like intramurals, as well as ensuring the safety of everyone on campus.

When asked on how to maintain this balance, Davidson said, “It’s important to remember that there’s more to health than a very narrow interpretation of it, so involvement in physical activity and involvement in intramural sports is a really important way that many students stay healthy, be it mentally or physically.”

Although registration for intramurals has ended, Davidson recommends that students continuously make sure their interests for intramurals are known, either through word of mouth or through social media. “The key is really to emphasize how important it is to some students’ health,” he said.

I look forward to seeing our students out there enjoying the sports and seeing the highlights firsthand. What sport are you most looking forward to?