Tapping Into Trends

Twitter knows it. So does Facebook. That’s why both platforms offer a trending feed.

However, if your intramural department implemented every trend in sports and fitness, you would soon find yourself with a lot of money spent and a  lot of useless equipment.

So, how do you decide what trends to pursue? “We use our students and social media to see what other schools are adding and what’s creative and new,” said Ruchelle Dunwoody, the director of intramurals at Miami University of Ohio. “Overall, I believe it’s the student population that drives the trends.”

Dunwoody explained if students want to see a sport added to the intramural roster, they must fill out a sport proposal, consisting of the sport’s rules, objectives, costs, risk management, etc. Depending on further analysis and discussion, a preview tournament will be held. Its results will assist in the decision if the sport should be added permanently.

“It’s important to know what students want and are interested in so we can provide many recreational opportunities,” said Dunwoody. “Our motto is ‘fun through sports.’ To live up to it, we must provide the traditional sports and be on the look out for non-traditional options to engage our athletes and non-athletes.”

At Ashland University, student opinion is also a large factor. “Most important if you’re thinking of starting up new programs is getting that student input and getting that feedback from them because honestly, what we do is filtered through them and is for them,” said Andrew Havrisko, the assistant director of programs at Ashland University.

Additionally, the various demographics of campus life should be considered. A major priority at Ashland University is getting international students involved in intramurals. They do this two ways: by promoting activities as an avenue to get connected, and by offering popular culture-specific sports.

Other trends in the intramural world expand beyond the sports students play. One recent development has been taking the intramural system online, explained Matt Macer, the intramural sports coordinator at the University of Arizona. Previously, students needed to visit the rec center to fill out their sport roster or make a payment. The school has since converted everything online, expediting the process.

This, along with implementing trends, keeps the university at the forefront. “The persona we give off is that we are staying up on the new trends, so all the students see us as people that are paying attention to all the new trends that are occurring,” said Macer.

Finally, be resourceful and look at using what you already have. For example, since the outdoor adventures program was well stocked with canoes, Macer said implementing Battleship was easy. While Ashland University does not have the resources for Battleship, Havrisko said they are looking at alternatives, such as inner tube water polo. He wants to give students the same opportunities they would find at a bigger school.

Ultimately, Macer suggests listening to the students regarding intramural trends, as they often know what will be best received. “Make them realize that they have a say in the program and that they can really voice their opinion,” said Macer. “Make sure that you follow through and make the changes that they have submitted and then they realize that they do have the buy in, so they’re that much more engaged in the program.”

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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