Intramural sports expands to esports
By Ashley Kizer
As soon as universities realized that COVID-19 would have an impact on intramural sports, many employees and student staff members had to branch out and find new ways to make intramurals available.
With the rules of social distancing and mask wearing, it became clear that many traditional intramural sports were not going occur. However, because of technology and many students’ love for online sports, recreation departments have implemented online gaming, or esports, into intramural leagues.
At UMHB, Campus Recreation staff member Hannah Zbylot said that UMHB was no exception.
“It has been challenging working this semester because of people’s response to the virus,” Zbylot said. “No one wants to spread their germs, so we’ve had to cut back in some of the intramural sports that are usually our largest competitions.”
UMHB and other universities like the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have still been able to provide some physical intramural sports such as volleyball, disc golf, ultimate frisbee, kickball, and tennis. While there is still a variety, this is a limited batch of sports being offered compared to a normal intramural season. Additionally, playing any of the sports comes with the mask-wearing of the pandemic.
Texas A&M Molly Lindner found it difficult to wear a mask while playing intramural softball.
“It is actually super strange because you don’t realize how much you read people’s faces until you can’t see them anymore,” Lindner said.
For that reason, among others, UMHB and other universities have implemented online gaming as a way for students to play intramural sports. Texas A&M offers MLB, NHL, and FIFA for intramural leagues. University of Texas at Austin offers Madden, NBA, and FIFA. UMHB offers Call of Duty, Rocket League, FIFA, and Super Smash Bros. Each school has different requirements for online gaming, but one commonality between all three is that the students compete in these online games in their own homes using their own gaming consoles. It is important to note that UT and Texas A&M both require students to pay a $10 fee to participate, but UMHB does not.
Mark Gonzalez is currently participating in Intramural esports at UMHB.
“I really appreciate how UMHB tried something new with intramurals this year,” Gonzales said. “It’s really cool to see them give us different options in the midst of the pandemic.” Gonzales also added that he felt UMHB has added different and unique sports to reach a broad range of students.
Universities like UMHB have faced the challenge of COVID-19 head-on and quickly accommodated students with sports they like and online games they enjoy. These schools may keep esports as a part of intramural competitions in the years to come as their popularity has grown so much in the past few years. Adapting to what students like is crucial for universities and universities like UMHB have attempted to do this in a unique way.