After last year’s poor turnout for women’s field hockey, intramural secretaries from all 12 colleges have been involved in ongoing discussions about changing the roster of IM sports.
“It’s the students’ show,” said Director of Intramurals Carlos Pinela. “If they want to change something, that’s what we’re here for.”
At the last bi-weekly meeting of IM secretaries, the question of what to do about women’s field hockey, which is played every spring, was a hot topic. Many secretaries said there is a lack of interest in this spring sport, as evidenced by the high number of forfeited games. Others said the major difficulty was the high level of skill required to play, which may exclude some students from participating.
Change involving the intramurals program requires a long formal process that may preclude immediate action, Pinela said. Even if representatives from all 12 colleges unanimously vote to make the change, the proposal will have go to a committee of masters, which only meets at the end of the year.
“IM’s aren’t set in stone,” he said. “But I doubt it will happen.”
Additionally, there is not a strong precedent for the removal of intramural sports. Only two sports have been dropped from the program in past years — tackle football and crew — Pinela said. The choice to eliminate the former was related to the liability incurred by the program, while the elimination of crew had more to do with the problem of purchasing and maintaining equipment.
The current issue arose because intramural secretaries were concerned about the lack of interest in women’s field hockey, head intramural secretary J.D. Kearney ’07 said. Because colleges have had trouble recruiting teams, forfeits and double forfeits have frequently decided the outcomes of the games, he said. Last season, four out of the six regular season games were decided by forfeit, two of which were lost by double forfeit.
Pierson intramural secretary Molly Howard ’07 said field hockey is problematic for more reasons than just the recruiting issue.
“Field hockey requires a lot of skills that not a lot of people have,” she said. “The quality of play is poor.”
Since the intramural secretaries and the committee of masters must come to a consensus about changing a sport, one college’s dissent can throw a wrench into the entire effort, and it seems as though Calhoun may provide that opposition.
Calhoun intramural secretary Jennifer Sarah Bolton ’08 said that there are many people in her college who are interested in and who enjoy playing intramural field hockey.
“And field hockey is important because it attracts a different crowd,” Bolton said. “It doesn’t just get the people who play all IMs.”
Bolton said the Calhoun team played all its games last year, never once having to forfeit.
Calhoun may have been unique last year. Every team, which is comprised of two colleges because no single college could muster the requisite seven players, was scheduled to play two regular-season games. Berkeley-Calhoun, the Ivy North champion, made it to the championship game by winning one contest outright and getting another win by forfeit. But the Ivy South champion, Jonathan Edwards-Branford, split its two regular season games, both forfeits, and still attained a finals berth, where they won the championship game — an impressive feat for a team that had yet to see a minute of actual playing time.
Several sports have been proposed to replace field hockey, Timothy Dwight intramural secretary Travis Nelson ’08 said. The secretaries are looking for women’s sports that also involve seven players, and badminton is one option, he said. Nelson said he does not support two of the other suggestions, dodgeball and kickball.
“Dodgeball could be dangerous because it would be the only IM sport where players try to make contact with their opponents,” he said. “And in terms of kickball, we already have two spring sports that use the diamond.”
Many intramural secretaries, as well as Pinela, said the change still remains up in the air.
“The secretaries are in charge of day-to-day matters,” Pinela said. “But at the end of the day, the masters are responsible for the drastic change.”