Above photo: Team BVB poses for picture after winning 2017 fall intramural soccer championship. Courtesy of Campus Recreation
By Jeffrey Waitkevich
A tale as old as time: Participation at USF St. Petersburg is low.
Campus Recreation has joined the ranks of Student Government and other on-campus organizations that have failed to gain widespread student interest amid abysmal turnouts.
In the fall semester, intramural sports netted just 148 student participants, a decrease from the 182 students that participated last spring and the 211 from the fall before that, according to intramural league records.
Fallon Hartig, the competitive sports coordinator, has set out to change the trend in her third year with campus rec.
While Hurricane Irma can be pinned with part of the blame, half of the planned sports did not play full seasons. Soccer and flag football—the two most popular sports—played on, but 3-on-3 basketball and beach volleyball were axed prematurely.
This semester’s schedule features dodgeball, kickball, 5v5 basketball and 4v4 flag football.
“Dodgeball is usually a hit. Flag football, people always come out for that. Basketball will be interesting and kickball is hit or miss,” said Hartig.
However, gaining steam during the spring semester is difficult, Hartig pointed out. Whereas the fall semester features the most popular sports—soccer and flag football—spring only entails one powerhouse sport—flag football—and is hindered by students’ other academic and extracurricular priorities.
Last semester, she focused on better officiating—implementing a nightly feedback system headed by team leader Devonte Barron. The athletes took notice, which should increase willingness to play, said Hartig.
She also designed new T-shirts for champions to give participants more incentive to sign up and show up. The number of forfeits because of absent teams doubled from fall of 2016.
In addition to continued advertising on Facebook, fliers and the campus rec website, Hartig has reached out to the USC and Connect to increase exposure on digital media. Campus rec is also working to hire a marketing assistant.
“Once that happens, it’ll be a little bit easier to get the word out there,” said Hartig. “Because we won’t have to focus on the marketing. We can just run the programs and they can worry about getting people there.”
Hartig has high hopes for the program as it looks to grow beyond the four sports offered per semester. Once female participation increases—from a measly 20 female athletes in fall—she hopes to start a women’s league for each sport.
“We have a lot of girls who will go out there and play, but we don’t have enough for just a women’s league,” said Hartig. “The first couple games, they’ll come out and play, but they don’t want to just play against guys. They want to play against other women. Trying to get the word out there and finding girls who want to play is the issue we’re dealing with.”
Residence hall leagues are in her sights as well. Her vision includes RA-lead teams or simply floor vs. floor matchups.
Registration for spring sports is now open. Dodgeball begins Jan. 18; kickball, Feb. 6; 5v5 basketball, March 1; 4v4 flag football, March 27.