By Larry Mullenix
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The numbers are in, and they show that there are an increasing amount of athletes participating in the 1994-95 intramural season.
Men's and women's flag football are in their fourth weeks of play and there are both more teams and more players involved this year than there were last. This is great news for the UA's intramural program, which has been going through a period of reduced interest.
"When the Student Recreation Center first opened our numbers went down somewhat but that was more from the new competition for campus athletes time than a decreased interest in intramurals," said Mary O'Mahoney, the coordinator for intramurals. "Before then, intramuarals was the only thing for campus athletes to compete in. Now they have a whole range of activities available to them.
"People are coming back to us because students have come to understand that they can do both. It doesn't have to be all or nothing."
This year's flag football roster has over 140 teams competing in three leagues Ä cactus, sunset and desert Ä a five percent increase from last year. To get the full grasp of how many students are participating, figure that of the 45 total leagues offered, 38 are participating in league play. Within each of those 38 leagues there are four teams with an average of 10 players. There are about 1,400 students competing.
"Our intramural program is one of the best in the state and that quality is what will keep our numbers going up," O'Mahoney said. "I think our officiating corps are great. These students who referee are doing this with their freetime. For some of these people, this is their first experience with officiating. They go out there with only three or four days of instruction and do the best they can. I give credit to all of them."
Brett Smith, captain of Beta II, agreed.
"With what they have to deal with they do an amazing job with both organizing as well as scheduling," Smith said. "If there is ever any changes to the posted schedule they notify you well in advance."
Another reason many give for the rise in interest is the idea that these leagues are offered so students can participate on an athletic team with a competitive atmosphere while still having fun.
Other teams share the same idea and believe that the theory behind intramurals is fair competition and fun rather than a fierce winner-take-all attitude.
"It's simple," said Philip Klaparda, captain of Delta Chi High Stakes. "What is better than going out with your friends and competing all while having fun? Another reason its good is that you meet so many people when you compete against them."
Another positive of the UA intramural program is that it allows the campus athlete to continue their careers as competitive athletes.
Said Jonathon Kessler, of the O'Malley's team: "The exercise that competing gives you provides a needed release from the academic pressures that school can put on you as a student. No matter how bad things may be going in a class, you always have that game to work out your frustrations.
"I suggest intramurals for anybody that says that there isn't anything for them to do on campus."
"You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining in the fun. I would strongly recommend it," O'Mahoney said.
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