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The difference between intramural and varsity athletics

November 8, 2017


Students come up to me almost every day this semester saying that they want to go out for the basketball team, volleyball team, or whatever team.

They usually aren’t prepared for the barrage of the questions they get in response. “Did you play at the varsity level at your high school? Are you a letter winner? All-Conference/All-State? Travel team? Are you still training?”

If someone said no to one of these, they’re bound for intramurals. Of course, the eye test is factored in there as well. If you look the part, and your answers to these questions line up, you have a chance in varsity athletics.

The reason I’m talking about this is, the line between the intramural programs and varsity programs can be blurred sometimes. I get it, you enjoy sports. Nothing wrong with that. But with the varsity programs, people who are involved have invested years and years of hard work, training, competing, and are in the top 10% of the country (in some sports, less than 10% of the country) in that respective sport. You can’t just waltz in and make the team unless you’re insanely talented.

The biggest differences between intramural and varsity sports are time commitment, talent and coaching staff.

For intramural sports, if you’re not feeling well or need to focus on your homework one weekend, you can take the weekend off without a hitch. For varsity sports, that won’t be possible. You are expected to show up and compete no matter what. You’ll have to take care of yourself and your course work at a different time.

As for talent, you compete with some impressive athletes at the intramural level, but with varsity sports, you’re competing with some of the best in the country. You’re also fighting for a spot on the roster, so every single day, you have to prove it to the team that you’re capable of hanging in there with the best.

Lastly, you have a coaching staff who will challenge you, push you, and put you through the grinder day in and day out. They are completely invested in your physical, mental, emotional and skill development for four full years. In intramural sports, your coaches are sometimes your classmates, faculty, or someone who signed up for the heck of it. The team dynamics are completely different.

These two programs are completely different, but at the same time, they’re exactly the same. People who play in both programs are in there for the love of the game. If you truly think you’ve got what it takes, you know where to find me.

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