UMD continues to offer intramural sports this semester following COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions.
Caitlyn Gay, a sophomore hearing and speech sciences major, plays indoor human foosball and dodgeball.
“I like being able to be competitive and active with my friends without it taking up too much of my time,” she said.
Gay has been playing sports since her freshman year and found out about intramurals from her friends. Outside of intramurals she goes to the gym to run and sometimes play soccer with her friends.
“Intramurals are taking all the necessary precautions, and we are lucky to be able to still play and be active with our friends,” Gay said.
Kyle Covello, a junior finance and information systems major, plays most of the intramural sports offered, but has the most fun with soccer, basketball and flag football. Like Gay, he has been playing since his freshman year.
“I like how it offers you a chance to play with your friends that you meet here at college and how it gives you a chance to have fun and stay active all at the same time,” Covello said.
Covello played soccer and basketball throughout high school and also ran track for two years, but now he doesn’t play any sports outside of intramurals.
“I partially do it to stay in shape but I also do it because I've played sports all my life. Playing and being around sports was a major part of my upbringing so I always knew I wanted to continue that in college in some capacity,” said Covello.
Covello and Gay both believe the university and intramurals are taking the proper safety precautions at the moment.
“During a time like this, making intramural sports possible is a huge accomplishment within itself and I believe the program has done well keeping everyone safe, including themselves, said Covello.
The most popular sports are soccer, basketball and flag football, all of which can’t be played normally this semester, according to Jason Hess, the assistant director of intramurals. Volleyball is typically the fourth most popular team sport and can be played in a 4v4 fashion with masks and sanitized equipment, he said.
“All of the sports we currently offer have to be able to be played in a way where we can be certain that participants will be able to keep at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others,” Hess said. “[But] some sports are better than no sports at all.”
Dodgeball is being offered in an expanded “league” format this semester as it is normally a one day tournament. Hess thinks the most creative new sport offered is “Human Foosball.”
“Human Foosball is soccer that is modified by keeping players in their own ‘boxes’ in order to maintain physical distancing. Outdoor Human Foosball will be offered after Spring Break. We’re hoping for a lot of teams to sign up and try it,” Hess said.
As for emergency protocols, they would cancel or modify in-person activities and offer more virtual programming.
“Our activities are designed and carried out in a way that should not spread COVID, even if someone in attendance is asymptomatic and doesn’t know they have COVID,” Hess said.
Safety restrictions include:
Designing sports in a way to ensure physical distancing
Staggering game times and entrances/exits to facilities (when possible) to reduce numbers of people arriving and leaving simultaneously
Reducing the number of participants allowed per team and not allowing spectators
Sanitizing spray to clean shared equipment and hand sanitizer at every court
Next semester, Hess thinks that they will be back to more normal sports but it depends on the guidance from the university administration and health officials.
“It really depends on how the next several months shape up in our state, region, and country - and nobody knows exactly what that will look like yet,” Hess said.