With all varsity and most club sports cancelled this semester due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and strict on-campus health and safety guidelines, chances to make friends, decompress and get some exercise—typically provided by sports teams—are both rare and valuable. In an effort to preserve the benefits of sports, the Bowdoin athletic department will offer non-traditional intramural sports this semester to students living on campus.
As with any activity happening in the time of COVID-19, precautions and changes have to be put in place. Intramural sports will be played outside, and students will have to maintain a distance when possible and wear masks when it is not. But a change specific to sports is that students must avoid exertion, said Head of Intramurals and Head Softball Coach Ryan Sullivan.
“Soccer is a very normal September-October offering from the intramurals and we didn’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we’re requiring students to wear masks while they’re playing or having to control if somebody wasn’t wearing a mask,” said Sullivan in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “Then obviously with the exertion part of it, being very aware of what we’re spraying from our mouth.”
Instead, intramurals will offer sports that require little physical strain, including disc golf, croquet and cornhole. Students who sign up for a sport will be matched with an opponent and left to schedule between themselves when to meet and play. The equipment used will be thoroughly sanitized afterwards.
Additionally, Bowdoin intramurals is collaborating with Head Coach of the men’s rugby team Jake Fautley and Head Coach of the women’s rugby team Marybeth Matthews to offer a new intramural.
“We’re working on a walking flag rugby offering as a way to be able to introduce people to a new sport that they may not have been exposed to before,” said Ashmead White Athletics Director Tim Ryan in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Ryan further explained that students playing rugby would be instructed to power walk instead of running and that there would be flags instead of tackling in an attempt to limit contact between students.
Outside activity is permitted when the campus status level is orange or yellow, levels which are determined by the number of COVID-19 cases and community compliance with COVID-19-related protocols. As long as the campus status does not rise to the red status, intramural matches could begin as soon as mid-September.
Intramurals will take place at Farley field, Pickard field and wherever other space is available for there to be properly distanced outdoor gatherings that do not disturb the activities happening in outdoor tents. Sullivan said there might even be a hotshot competition at the new basketball hoops at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School down the road.
Overall, the goal is for the adjusted intramural program to give students a way to relax and enjoy themselves.
“We hope that this will fill a need for students to be able to get outside and meet new people and engage in some various forms of competition,” said Ryan.