Asha Prihar

The Tyng Cup is up for grabs — just make sure you wash your hands.

Intramurals have adapted to Yale’s COVID-19 safety precautions. Students must wear masks, socially distance and sanitize their hands and equipment. Instead of field sports like soccer and football that involve physical contact and transportation, students can now represent their residential colleges in two-on-two games of CupCheck, HORSE, cornhole, pickleball, Spikeball and table tennis. KanJam and bocce will be introduced later this season.

“Though they may not break as much of a sweat as they would at volleyball or soccer, participants will still be able to bond with their colleges and have some friendly competition,” head intramural secretary Rachel Cohen ’21 said.

According to Tom Migdalski, Yale’s director of club sports, intramurals and outdoor education, the University waited until the end of the summer to decide whether intramurals would be allowed to proceed, in order to act on the most up-to-date public health information.

The intramural office, however, did not wait for this announcement to begin planning. Migdalski said the planning process began in late May and that his office took inspiration from how other universities, both within the Ivy League and nationwide, were addressing the pandemic. The residential college secretaries were also proactive, drafting coronavirus-compliant plans as soon as Yale College Dean Marvin Chun announced that students would be able to return to campus on July 1.

“The main challenge was making sure everything could be done safely,” Cohen told the News.

New sports and social distancing are not the only changes. Residential colleges can only bring a limited number of players and substitutes to games, and spectators are prohibited. Yale Athletics employees and trained student referees are present at intramural games to enforce these rules.

Dan Huynh ’23 said that “it’s super nice” to have intramurals in the absence of other residential college programming such as teas and study breaks. Nevertheless, he expressed his concern over the absence of many upperclassmen who had led intramural involvement in previous years.

Trumbull College’s head intramural secretary Adia Klein ’21 echoed this sentiment. She told the News that complying with public health guidelines was the intramural program’s biggest hurdle.

“Some other challenges have been recruiting people, especially upperclassmen, since many students are not in residence,” Klein said. She added that first-year engagement is similar to previous years, likely due to the fact that the class of 2024 represents a large percentage of on-campus students.

Though they are unable to make it to their residential college courtyards, Yalies who are enrolled remotely or taking academic leaves can still get involved with intramurals. In continuation of online programming from last semester, the intramural program and the E-Sports program are hosting digital game tournaments. Each month, students can register to compete in rounds of Mario Kart, FIFA or digital chess on traditional gaming consoles or their mobile phones. However, E-Sport victories will not count toward Tyng Cup standings.

“IMs are important every year, but are perhaps more important this year than any other,” Migdalski said. 

With COVID-19 scouring students across the globe, impeding community formation and forcing students to remain sequestered in their bedrooms, Migdalski emphasized the importance of camaraderie, community and friendly competition inherent to the Intramural program.

Klein urged students to sign up for intramurals, stating that “they allow you to meet other people of all class years and provide an outlet for athletic competition for people of all skill levels.”

Timothy Dwight College currently leads the race for the Tyng Cup with 66 points. Grace Hopper follows closely with 54 points.

Jordan Fitzgerald | jordan.fitzgerald@yale.edu