Whether you’re into watching or playing, there’s much to be said about sporting events and the thrill they bring. Why not bring that thrill into your weekly life as you navigate the challenges and fun times that college offers? Even if you’re not a Michael Jordan on the court or Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch, intramural leagues cater to all skill levels—just make sure you don’t select a highly competitive league where players will be hunting you down after the game when you miss a goal.
The Physical Activity
School can make it easy for us to pack on the pounds and fall into a pit of inactivity—it’s not called the Freshman 15 for nothing. However, the alternative—heading to the gym and forcing yourself to do reps until your arms feel like they’re going to pop or hopping on the elliptical until you’re feeling faint—can be a hard sell after a long day of school and work. Intramural sports can make working out actually fun and something you look forward to instead of dread. Picking a sport that you love and getting the rush of adrenaline that comes with competition can make it easy to shed the pounds and get your body back into shape.
Look at Your Options
When I said intramural, your mind probably went to the usual suspects: baseball, basketball, football, and the like. However, you’ve got options on options, so make sure you look around in your local area and figure out exactly what’s offered before committing to one sport. Many college towns have created some unique intramural leagues to appeal to every type of student, including badminton, kickball, dodgeball, billiards, and even Frisbee leagues.
Getting Gear without Going Bankrupt
The starving college student doesn’t always have tons of money to spend on sports equipment (Grubhub orders can add up quickly) but you can find amazing deals online at ecommerce stores and spend a fraction of what you would shell out in local sporting good shops. For example, if baseball is your game, check out bats and outfield gloves at Baseball Monkey; if you’re trying to get involved in a local soccer league, check out online e-retailer SoccerSavings.com for some low-cost gear that will save you loads. No matter what sport you’re into, you can usually find some pretty sweet deals online. Also, don’t be afraid to head out on foot and do a little thrifting. Being in a college town has its advantages, one being that students who have graduated often shirk off belongings before heading out of town, which may include great sports gear and pieces of equipment that wind up in local thrift stores.
It’s a Natural Stress Reliever
Getting physical activity and regular exercise in can help decrease the number of stress hormones the body produces. Exercise also stimulates the body’s production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that are responsible for cultivating that “runner’s high” feeling you’ve likely scoffed at in the past. Luckily, even if you’re insanely busy and think committing to another new thing will only see to cause you more stress, intramural leagues generally don’t take much of your time—games are usually once a week during the evening. Regular exercise is also associated with lower risk of depression and anxiety.
Playing sports can give self-confidence a great boost. According to Human Kinetics, playing recreational sports may help students build up character, as you learn to develop and refine self-control habits and improve your self-image. We can all use a little self-esteem boost every once in a while, especially when school studies are beating us down mercilessly during midterms.
Meet New People
College is a wonderful time during which you’re surrounded with people around the same age, and is one of the biggest social opportunities you’ll ever have in your lifetime. If you’re new to the campus, it’s important to get involved in any way you can. Greek life, clubs, and student government might require a hefty time commitment that you just don’t have, but intramural sports, as previously mentioned, are pretty easy to keep up with. You’ll widen your social circle and have fun while doing it, and fostering more connections with those around you can have a huge impact on your professional and personal future.