It's back to normal for intramural sports at McMaster University this year

By Miguel Sibal, Sports Staff Writer 

As the school year begins, McMaster University students can look forward to getting involved in a variety of intramural sports. This year the department of athletics and recreation will provide students with a wide assortment of intramurals, including indoor sports, outdoor sports and e-sports. 

Peter McComie, intramural sports coordinator for McMaster’s athletics and recreations department, is expecting a full return to normality, barring any last-minute government announcements. Any occurring changes to health and safety restrictions set by the province will in turn be followed and enforced by the department.  

“I know it comes pretty last minute and everybody does not agree . . . It’s catching us off-guard as well and whenever things have to change, we need to take our time to get things into place,” explained McComie. 

Back in the fall semester of 2021, the department of athletics and recreation instituted a set of COVID-19 policies for McMaster intramurals following both provincial health guidelines and health and safety policies outlined by the university. Such procedures included the adherence to the university’s COVID-19 vaccination policy and the limiting of intramural leagues to current McMaster students.  

Presently, these mandates are paused for the upcoming term and should have no impact on intramurals for the fall.  

“As we go along, if things do change, we will update as necessary,” explained McComie. 

Per McComie, the department also plans to reintroduce previously offered sports which were unavailable in recent years, such as cricket and flag football, in the fall intramural lineup. 

The department [of athletics and recreation] also plans to reintroduce previously offered sports which were unavailable in recent years, such as cricket and flag football, in the fall intramural lineup. 

Registration will begin on Sept. 7, and will run until Sept. 14 for all outdoor sports, such as soccer and ultimate frisbee. Registration will begin on Sept. 18 for indoor sports, including water polo, floorball and volleyball.  

Intramural sign-up is done through the IMLeagues website. On the site students can sign-up in pre-organized teams or register as free agents to make and receive requests to join teams still in need of members. Based on their interests, participants can select several different leagues and play styles for their intramurals. 

Intramural sign-up is done through the IMLeagues website. On the site students can sign-up in pre-organized teams or register as free agents to make and receive requests to join teams still in need of members. Based on their interests, participants can select several different leagues and play styles for their intramurals. 

The league options require a team to meet specific gender-based requirements when fulfilling their roster. Students can take part in a men’s league, a women’s league, an open league for students of all genders or a co-rec league with sport-specific gender-based roster requirements. It is however important to note that students will only be able to participate in one gendered league (either the men’s or women’s league) and one other league per sport they are involved with. 

On top of these league options, students can play under a PlayFun or PlayCompetitive style. While both options allow for players of varying degrees of skill, PlayFun allows for a more casual dynamic of gameplay while PlayCompetitive play is typically a choice for more sport specific experienced athletics.  

Continual updates through the year will be provided through the McMaster intramural website, as well as on their social media pages: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor

As intramurals around campus kick off, the soccer intramurals in particular took off with immense interest. 

As of Sept. 17, intramurals for some leagues have begun. The very first sport that started was competitive soccer, which consists of 16 teams of seven players who play every week that subsequently proceed to play-offs. Not only was competitive soccer the first sport to start off, it was also the most popular choice amongst student athletes on IMleagues.com registration. After the team sign-ups opened on Sept. 8., the league was full within two days

Out of numerous teams that have attempted to apply for a spot within the competitive league, only 16 teams got the spot which was given on a first come, first served basis. However, there are currently over ten squads on the waitlist, which is used to replace any teams that drop out or get disqualified from the league. 

Shortly after the league reached its 16-team capacity, McMaster Intramurals sent an email to all participants regarding safety protocols and the waitlists that have been racking up over the past couple of days. They stated that due to the lack of resources and the facilities that are currently operating, there won’t be any opportunity for the organization to accept more teams into the leagues, while also reiterating that it is necessary for all registered teams to confirm their participation or else they’ll get replaced. 

There aren’t currently any plans to expand the league sizes, which is why confirmed participation is vital for those who remain interested in partaking. According to an email from the McMaster Intramurals organization, this participation confirmation will guarantee a spot in the league. 

Speaking to one of the registered players for the upcoming intramurals season, Aidan Matthew, a second-year student studying computer engineering, spoke about the registration period as well as the excitement that he and his team poses just before the season premiere. 

“I am surprised that the registrations filled up so fast, as there was no marketing/advertising for IM leagues at the time of registration. However, my friends told me about the website so I signed up as soon as I could and got in,” explained Matthew. 

"I am surprised that the registrations filled up so fast, as there was no marketing/advertising for IM leagues at the time of registration. However, my friends told me about the website so I signed up as soon as I could and got in."

Aidan Matthew, IM league participant

On the topic of the upcoming season and his thoughts, Matthew did not hide his exhilaration.

“I am very hyped to finally be on campus, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. My first year was entirely virtual so I am happy to finally be around, and to play soccer while meeting new people,” said Matthew. 

"I am very hyped to finally be on campus, I've been looking forward to this for a while. My first year was entirely virtual, so I am happy to finally be around, and to play soccer while meeting new people."

aidan matthew

While there may not be any space left for any new teams in competitive leagues anymore, players can still choose to register as free agents here. As a free agent, they can get drafted by any of the participating teams if there’s a shortage in athletes at any time. The competitive soccer league is set to run until the middle of November, where it’ll end as the weather gets less suitable for outdoor sports.

C/O Pixabay

As McMaster students make their way back to campus, intramurals will be making a subsequent comeback.

Preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, the McMaster University Athletics and Recreation department organized a wide variety of intramural sports on campus for each fall term. These sports ranged from indoor activities such as volleyball, to typical outdoor activities like soccer. This year the intramural program will look different. 

For most sports, the number of players on the teams will be limited. This is to mitigate potential community spread and to limit the number of player interactions as much as possible. The sports that are affected by these limitations are soccer, volleyball, basketball and floorball. The number of players per team is different for each sport.

According to the COVID-19 Back To Mac website, those planning for fall intramurals can expect to have a variety of outdoor intramural sports, including soccer, spike ball, ultimate frisbee, touch rugby and softball. These activities were chosen based on safety considerations and the ability to deliver them safely without compromising the experience for students.

Presently, the Athletics and Recreation department have delayed any official announcement regarding the intramurals for the fall term. 

“Safety is their number one priority . . . We are still finalizing some protocol details as per the provincial government announcement,” said Peter McComie, the intramural sports coordinator.

Many of these decisions involved the inclusion of vaccine passports around Ontario for non-essential activities, allowing for further close contact between students. 

"We must go through the McMaster health and safety channels before we can finalize our departmental plans and put anything out to the public about our recreational programs. Student and participant safety is the highest priority,” explained McComie.

"We must go through the McMaster health and safety channels before we can finalize our departmental plans and put anything out to the public about our recreational programs. Student and participant safety is the highest priority

Peter McComie, Intramural Sports Coordinator

The McMaster Intramural website has since provided further updates, having listed a total of 15 sports for registration throughout the fall. Out of the 16 sports, three of them are remote while the other 13 are going to take place on campus. 

The three remote categories of sports are fantasy leagues, E-sports and National Football League picks. Within the E-sports category, FIFA, Madden, Rocket League and chess will be available to players to sign up for. 

Every sport will offer a “PlayFun” league which is a division for those who just want to play casually, offering a social and active lifestyle blend. However, sports such as basketball, soccer and volleyball will also offer a “PlayComp” league, which is a division build for those interested in playing in a more competitive and higher effort league.

Thirteen other sports will take place on campus, which include indoor and outdoor activities. The indoor activities include softball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, touch rugby and spikeball. The outdoor activities include innertube water polo, pickleball, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, basketball and floorball. 

Pricing for the fall intramurals ranges from free to $120 per team. The remote sports — such as the E-sports leagues or NFL picks — are the cheapest, compared to softball and waterpolo, which are the most expensive at $120 and $110 per team, respectively. 

The season length for the fall intramurals differs from sport to sport. The outdoor sports will start in mid-September and will take place until early November due to the challenging weather conditions that occur mid-November onwards. Indoor sports will have their seasons shifted a month later, starting at the end of October and finishing by the beginning of December. However, the remote leagues will take place from September to December. 

Registration for the McMaster fall intramurals will begin on Sept. 8 for outdoor sports and remote leagues, whereas indoor registration will begin on Sept. 19. Every student that wishes to participate in this semester's intramurals can do so through the IMLeagues website by creating an account and registering their team through the portal. If a student doesn't have a team and wishes to register solo, they can register as a free agent on the website and will be placed into a team. 

For additional information, visit the McMaster intramurals page or the McMaster intramurals calendar.

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