Photos by Rachel Hanson
There are underlying reasons why we play sports at different stages in life. When we’re young we play sports because we want to hang out with our friends, make new ones and run around. The game itself is inconsequential. You’ll forget the final score ten minutes after you leave the ball park, but you’ll remember how many butterflies you caught in right field while all the parents were screaming at you to pick up the ball laying at your feet.
As we get into high school, sports begin to get serious in a hurry; practices get more intense, your private parts get smellier and you have to go buy a jock strap. Suddenly your elementary school gym teacher that you thought was cool is screaming in your ear as you contemplate letting the air out of his tires after practice. But you know if you outperform the hundreds of other kids in the same position, you could earn a scholarship to play at the next level. However, that is when reality slaps you in the face.
If God sees fit to bless you with a particularly sweet jump shot or a blazing forty time, perhaps you will earn a place in the college ranks. Unfortunately for most of us, our dreams of playing in a national championship with a perennial powerhouse will be demolished relatively soon. That’s when intramurals come in.
Some students are kids that had college level talent but did not have the drive or interest in playing. These are athletes that can out jump, out shoot, out run, and straight up out play everyone around them. You can always spot these kids amongst their teammates. They have an air of confidence surrounding them; they know they are good, and they are about to put their skills on display.
Others are has-beens looking to muster some of the old magic during their nostalgic game of five-on-five.
These kids have a similar domineering gaze. However, the exhibition of skills is much less impressive. They have lost a step since their senior year when they were second team all conference. But because they give 110 percent just like their junior varsity coach told them to, he will probably end up spraining his ankle during a fast break long after everyone else stopped trying. These are the kids who take winning and losing way too seriously and then snap when a teammate says, “Don’t be a bitch, bro.”
Then there is the recreational player. This is the athlete that may or may not have been good in school. They are out there for the love of the game and they understand that the games do not mean anything. This kid plays hard and will make a key play when nobody is expecting it, otherwise they are just as content to let things just happen around them and jump in whenever they can.
Finally, there is the “I’m playing to meet people and spend time with friends” player. These are the kids who are playing so they can, you guessed it, meet people and spend time with friends. They have never played the game that brought them to this organization and possibly do not even have the minimalist of grasps on
the rules. They are easy to spot because they are most likely the first one to either ask for a sub or trip over the free throw line. They generally laugh off a mistake such as dropping a pass that hits them right in the paws or getting smacked in the beak by a lazy fly ball to right field.
Given the right matchup, some games can be quite compelling. Once in awhile you can sit aside and watch a high scoring affair that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last minute. But more often than not the games are like watching a newborn horse trying to walk. It is awkward and mildly comical, yet there is a certain amount of magic to it.
No matter what kind of player you happen to be, intramurals has something to offer everybody. It does not matter if your basketball has gone flat and all your tennis balls have been cut up and stuck on the pegs of your loft. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has balls and they are ready to share them with you. So trade in your Pabst for a Powerade and put out that cigarette - it’s gametime.