Getting rewarded for hard work is extremely satisfying. But in the spirit of working smarter instead of harder, it’s also satisfying to find a simple, easy way to achieve a goal.
The University of Virginia’s campus rec department has found an easy way to boost participation and program exposure in the form of one-day tournaments, events usually organized in just a week or two, lasting little more than two to three hours, and sometimes with less than 40 students.
“We’ve started to do one-day tournaments of corn hole and spike ball,” said Matt O’Connor, the director of intramural and club sports at the University of Virginia. “We’ll host them on a Friday afternoon and give students a deadline of the Tuesday before to sign up.”
The spontaneous nature of these events is intentional — the one-day tournaments don’t have a grand prize at the end. They’re simply events designed to give students the opportunity to spend a couple hours playing a fun game and engaging with their peers.
“We encourage students to come out and play, and we’ll end up bringing in around eight teams or so,” said O’Connor. “We’ve found it’s something that doesn’t really cost us much and is relatively easy to do while still getting a good number of participants.”
And these one-day tournaments aren’t limited to obscure sports or lawn games like corn hole — more traditional sports can draw a nice crowd.
“Every Friday afternoon in April, we host one-day sand volleyball tournaments,” said O’Connor. “When we do our regular intramural league for volleyball, we’ll have upwards of 100 teams, so during the offseason, we try to capitalize on its popularity. We’ll run these April tournaments and get 10 teams or so, which is all we can handle on our courts and in the time available.”
According to O’Connor, April is one of the most successful months for one-day tournaments. They’ll have sand volleyball tournaments going on right next to a field with four spike ball nets, with several groups of students playing or watching the other teams.
It’s fun for the students to play, watch and hang out. “It’s more of a relaxed atmosphere that helps us reach out to some people we might not be reaching otherwise,” said O’Connor.
But whether it’s sand volleyball, corn hole, spike ball or another sport, the goal for any college is to find a way, no matter how seemingly small, to get students interested in participating in campus recreation events.
“We’re happy with the numbers for our one-day tournaments,” said O’Connor. “When we have a spike ball tournament with 16 teams participating, that’s 32 people over a three-hour period on a Friday afternoon we weren’t going to have at our facility before.”
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