Last November, the campus recreation department at the University of Wisconsin – Superior began looking for ways to connect with student organizations on campus. But they did not go to the basketball court or the baseball field. Instead, they partnered with the video game club.
“When I saw the video game club, I thought this would be a different way that we can reach some of those students that did not have that sports-related interests. So we’re just trying to find ways to increase the participation numbers,” said Jared Meyer, the intramural and competitive sports specialist at the University of Wisconsin – Superior.
Meyer wanted to know if the club was interested in doing an intramural activity. They decided on a Wii Sport Tournament, planned for Wednesday, February 10. Students do not have to pre-register for the event. Meyer said he found pre-registration does not work well with one-time special event tournaments. But students are invited to come at 5 p.m. to be paired in a bracket, depending on the Wii sport.
A local Game Stop store also donated a $25 gift card and video game T-shirts for the winners of the tournament.
As of right now, the video game club is not an intramural sport at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, but they hope to use this tournament to gauge interest whether or not it could be an intramural sport in the future. “We’re always looking at different activities or different sports to keep up with what is trending or what’s popular. So if that is something students want to become an actual intramural, that is something for sure that we are hoping to do,” said Meyer.
And although a video-game league does not sound like a typical intramural sport, he said it’s important for campus recreation professionals to not get “tunnel-vision” on traditional sports. “It’s our job as campus rec professionals to put out those activities that the students want to be involved with, they want to participate and sometimes that isn’t necessarily your traditional sports,” said Meyer. “It all depends on the students you’re dealing with and you want to find what their interests are and then it’s your job to put out like those activities that they want to participate in.” And he explained that interest could differ university to university.
He recognized today’s college students grew up playing video games, and it’s an activity they do in their free time. The tournament will simply provide a way to test their ability to compete against each other. If the first Wii Tournament goes well, Meyer said the campus recreation department would implement a tournament twice a semester.