Recreation Services Seek Answers: Why is Participation in Intramural Sports Declining?


by Savanah Hippert
Intramural sports have traditionally been a fun and engaging outlet for the Fitchburg State campus community. In recent years, however, Recreation Services has noticed a decline in participants. The question is simply: Why?
Data from 2008 up until the present shows that the more popular years for student participation in intramural sports were 2008-2011, varying on the sport and whether it’s a league or tournament. Certain data for the 2017-2018 academic year was unavailable because some sports have not occurred yet in the season, nor did indoor soccer or 2X2 volleyball begin until the 2011-2012 and 2014-2015 academic seasons respectively.
intramural participant graph
When FSU sports teams are done practicing for the day – either in Parkinson Gymnasium or on Elliot Field – determines when intramurals can actually begin playing. Times usually range from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. The issue at hand may be that students, faculty, and staff just don’t have as much time as they did in years past. “Five or six years ago,” said Brad Cohrs, Recreation Services Director, “students seemed to be more enthusiastic to do every activity and be more involved.” However, it is possible that there is just a different type of student now: a type of student where available time is limited.
At the present time, there is no plan to reduce the number of intramural sports, but nothing is set in stone yet. Brittany Rende, Recreation Staff Assistant, agrees with Cohrs that having a variety of league sports and individual competitions offer students a diverse pool of options and is something they don’t want to take off the table.
Cohrs plans to put out a survey to gain insight on how students prefer to get their communication to what’s going on and what they’ll be more apt to pay attention to. A new marketing effort is currently underway to also help promote what happens at The Rec and to manage the social media outlets (Facebook:, Twitter: @FSURec, Instagram: @fitchburg_rec).
Cohrs and Rende are hopeful that once the Landry Arena is finished, it will open up gym and weight room time varying on the athletic season. The new arena, located in the Wallace Civic Center, will be available primarily to student-athletes and will be an outlet for appropriate practices.
By taking part in an intramural sport in comparison to a DIII collegiate sport, there isn’t that strenuous commitment. Participants determine practice time with their team, and show up on game day and maybe even compete against a faculty member. Rende, for example, is on a volleyball team this season alongside some of her own staff.
“When I get to play with them on the court it’s a totally different interaction and I get to see them on a different level – they get to see me on a different level – verses we’re having a meeting in my office or we’re having a staff meeting or it’s just chatting behind the desk,” she said. Not only does her staff get to see her in a different light now, but she gets to “see students leadership abilities come out naturally.” The friendly competition and community engagement is the ultimate goal.
The 2017 fall season for intramurals will come to a close in early December. However, registration for the 2018 spring season sports begins as early as November 30. Students, faculty, and staff can find a full listing of the intramural sports offered, and register their team(s) at With a new year ahead, hopefully, Recreation Services will see some new Falcon Fanatic faces during the upcoming spring season, and years to come.