Racquetball is a fast-paced game that gives the participants a good workout. The equipment requirements are minimal as well: a racquet, ball and maybe a pair of goggles, depending on how daring you are.
However, the game is suffering a decline in popularity. With college campuses converting their old racquetball courts into other types of workout facilities, it’s worth asking if racquetball still has a place in campus recreation.
Campus Rec spoke with Kim Scott, the director of campus recreation at Baylor University about whether students are still interested in racquetball and if it should still be offered as part of campus recreation programming.
CR: Is racquetball relevant to college students?
KS: I would say any sport or activity that promotes the goal of helping students create patterns of physical activity that are congruent with healthy lifestyles is relevant. We want students to live in balance with self and others and learn to live a holistic lifestyle. Racquetball has the physical component but also provides a social component. We want to help our students develop relationships built on trust and accountability. When two students engage in a game of racquetball, they referee themselves, they agree on protocols and they enjoy the competition while working with another participant. This also speaks to relevancy.
CR: How would you describe the state of racquetball on college campuses?
KS: Has the sport of racquetball declined over the past 25 to 30 years? Yes. Thirty years ago, many racquetball courts were concrete, some indoor with small entry doors — not ADA compliant or inclusive — and some were three and a half walled concrete courts outdoors. As recreation centers were designed, real racquetball courts with glass viewing walls were installed. Students learned more about the health benefits of a lifetime sport in a recreational environment. There are many options in a collegiate recreation center, therefore, racquetball is not as unique or popular as it once was; however, it still has value in the hand-to-eye development, the cardiovascular workout, and the social ability to engage one-on-one with another person — not online or in 140 characters.
CR: What steps have you taken to make racquetball relevant on your campus?
KS: At Baylor, racquetball is still a Lifetime Fitness course offering — for credit. That means approximately 200 students per semester take beginning racquetball. This is a start for getting some interested that might not have ever played before. We also offer it as an individual intramural sport. Generally, we have about 150 participants who play a racquetball tournament over the course of two weeks in the fall. This allows them to meet others who enjoy the sport. The club sport of racquetball ebbs and flows. If there is enough consistent interest in any given year, it is revived. If not, those few who want to play engage in intramurals. We have also offered a Ladder for those who play with consistency. Some students and more faculty/staff engage in this recreational form of friendly competition.