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(Photo courtesy of Sebastian Herman)

McGill Intramurals ensures only the average survive

Behind the Bench/Sports by

McGill Intramurals are highly competitive and low-level matches that border somewhere between animalistic and majestic. These clearly untrained and mediocre athletes pay tens of dollars to compete against the worst of McGill Athletics. Some people wrongly believe these casual leagues are there for “fun,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Winning is everything for a well-oiled intramural squad.

“On my dodgeball team, we had someone who took it way too seriously,” B-League dodgeballer Max Newcamp said. “He would yell at every girl on the team if they even tried to throw [the ball].”

In intramural dodgeball, the will to win supersedes even basic human courtesies. Teammates lose all sense of empathy and revert to barbaric creatures. But dodgeball isn’t the only über competitive intramural sport.

“I once saw a friend lay out a kid for being in his zone during football,” Intermediate flag football linebacker Sami Meffre said. “He was coming across the middle, caught the ball, and took a huge shot. This is flag football, too. It was crazy.”

That’s what happens to players who don’t protect themselves when they go over the middle in intramural flag football. The intensity of the game means players sometimes lose sight of the flag aspect of the contest, turning a recreational sport into a high-stakes competition.

Intramural basketball matches are equally intense. Friendly back and forth can soon get out of hand and become violent.

“This one game I was reffing, these two guys […] got too tangled up, but one of them shoved the other guy and then they were face-to-face pushing each other,” B-league basketball referee Itai Nitsan said. “Of course, every player on the court runs into the middle of a scrum trying to calm it down, but in reality they just make the scrum bigger.”

Overreactions and aggresion come easily in the heat of the moment. With high tempers and little training in restraint, inexperienced athletes become shaken with hardly any provocation. 

Sometimes more seasoned players will take charge and try to coach their teams to victory. 

“We would go against teams that would actually call their own plays with names and everything,” Newcamp said. “One team even called audibles, but they were so unathletic it really didn’t even matter.”

As it turns out, some players are unteachable in low-level athletic contests. The best strategy is usually just letting the physically-average specimen try to dominate matchups game after game. 

In intramural basketball, unskilled ballers put everything they have on the line. Their bodies are simply tools used to win a much revered intramural championship.

“I once reffed a game where a guy fully dislocated his finger,” Second-year intramural basketball referee Arman Bery said. “A med student on the other team popped it back in, and then the guy tried to argue with me and my co-ref to let him keep playing.”

Apparently nine fingers are more than enough to perform on the court or the field. San Francisco 49ers legend Ronnie Lott once had his finger amputated to prevent missing game time. Want to be a true intramural baller? You have to follow Lott’s lead.

In all seriousness, intramural sports are actually meant to be about fun. The games are supposed to be friendly, particularly in lower divisions. There’s no reason for students to risk their well-being and friendships over an intramural match of basketball, dodgeball, flag football. To rephrase the great Allen Iverson: “I mean, listen, we’re talking about intramurals. Not a varsity game! We’re talking about intramurals. I mean, how silly is that?”

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