Last Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Basketball, football, hockey. Yeah, yeah, yeah—we know those are the big college sports. But there are so many more athletics out there, especially when you dive into the super fun and varied world of college intramural sports. Unique options range from inner-tube water polo to Quidditch! Here’s a look at a bunch of fan favorites that you can find at colleges across the country.
This is an insanely vibrant game of seeing who can hit the target as many times as possible with exploding dye shots, except the target is moving and it's probably the enemy. The object of the game is to purposefully hit the team or individual on the opposing team without getting hit yourself. Many games are played on outdoor terrains with movable props where you can take shelter from the colors splattering around you. Though plenty of colleges offer paintball as a standalone intramural sport, many university teams also play the game to strengthen team building and teamwork. A quick warning if you decide to join in on the fun: you may have some battle-worthy bruises in store.
Do you remember when your cool friend was given a foam sword for their birthday? And how you two would fight imaginary monsters with them? At some universities, Swords is the game played where two groups meet on the school lawn and battle with these foam swords and other soft weaponry. (Very different from fencing!) Practices include battle techniques, teamwork, swordplay, and javelin or knife throwing. The workout is insane, and it's amazing how much more agile you'll become.
Who here has read Harry Potter? Well, for those of you who don't know, in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, Harry attends a magic school where their main school sport is Quidditch. Sadly, as muggles (aka non-magical humans), we cannot fly broomsticks, so instead we've created our own game of Ground Quidditch. There are four positions in which two players are on the defensive and two are on the offensive. Those on the offensive have to throw one type of ball through three metal hoops to earn points, whilst their defense must guard their own goal hoops. There is one player, called the Snitch, who doesn't play for either team but runs around in gold attire. This player tries to avoid being caught by special offensive players on each team called Seekers. The Seekers chase after the Snitch, who, if caught, gives extra points to the winning team and the game ends.
Related: Colleges Most Like Hogwarts
Although it may not be as popular as Quidditch, Segway polo is another unique college intramural sport that deserves to be mentioned. The game is just like polo, except where horses were once running, the 21st century has replaced them with Segways. Each player is equipped with a polo staff and Segway in order to go into battle. Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, held the first World “Woz” Challenge Cup (named after Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple and an avid player of Segway polo) at Hotchkiss field in 2013. (Sadly, there was no 2014 tournament.)
This game is seen at idyllic family picnics and backyard barbecues. In cornhole, aka beanbag toss (among many other names), you throw a beanbag from a distance onto a slanted piece of wood—ideally into the hole in the wood. Where the beanbag lands determines your points. Mix in frat boys and sunburns, and, well, cornhole can get a little crazy.
Those Friday nights spent at the bowling alley in high school weren’t for naught. Bowling is popular at many universities, with some scholarships even being awarded at certain schools. If you’ve never enjoyed the game before, the object is to throw a bowling ball, weighing about 10 pounds, down the alley to knock all the pins down. Games usually last about an hour and a half, but there are certain techniques to be learned in order to become a pro. In this intramural sport, you'll learn about everything from velocity to how much spin to put on your ball. Time to dust off your dad’s bowling shoes from 1987, because it’s your time to shine!
Were you always the last kid to be picked for a team in middle school because of how small you were? Not to fear, sprint football is here! In this game, the player can't weigh more than 172 pounds, according to the official rulebook. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden played sprint football during college. The game is exactly the same as regular football, including full contact, but a player's main goal is to be quicker and more agile than the norm. If you're good at running, you'll undoubtedly be able to run the football all the way to the end zone.
This sport has been gaining in popularity on the East Coast. Woodsmen is a student athletic club that practices logging skills such as logrolling, the standing block chop you see in all the movies, sawing, and pole climbing. These are the true pioneers of the great outdoors; brain and brawn are required for these hearty classics of American culture.
Imagine the game of golf. Now imagine instead of holes in the ground with flags coming out, there are metal baskets standing upright. Oh, and take out the golf balls and add a bright yellow Frisbee. Now you have Frisbee golf! Players compete in this game by throwing a Frisbee into each basket from a certain point on the course. The teams have to take into account the obstacles of wind, strength, and sometimes even tossing over a lake!
Love swimming and diving but hate ice? This sport pretty much covers you on that front. Get the excitement out of playing hockey, but at the bottom of a swimming pool! You’ll suit up with fins, a mask, a snorkel, protective gear, and a foot-long stick. The puck weighs about three pounds, so you better be ready to hit the pool floor. It’s very similar to hockey, except no physical contact is allowed. The goal, of course, is to score as many goals as possible. George Mason University has a club team definitely worth checking out.
Inner-tube water polo
Inner-tube water polo is a sister to regular water polo, except, you guessed it: you use inner tubes. Basically, it boils down to would you rather float along or be swimming for 40 minutes? (My vote is for the inner tubes!) Hope College and the University of Iowa are just a few examples of schools that offer this tubular intramural team.
You don’t hear those words everyday! Although it's not a regularly played sport throughout the year, it seems that blacklight volleyball is being played at schools tournament-style. And it’s exactly what it says it is—all you need are some ultraviolet black lights, a court, and a ball, and you’re all set. Although blacklight volleyball isn't like the other intramural and club options above, it’s a great example of how weird college athletics can get. It also shows you that you can transform a regular sport into something new and different—and something that I’m sure your school’s student activities/athletics department would be very excited to help you put together.
Who says you have to go the traditional route and play old-school baseball or football in college? These are just a few of the most entertaining and strangest sports played at schools throughout the United States these days. Who knows—one of them might be your next passion!
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