Intramural sports and the way students are treated and divided in these activities is a small event, but one that can hold a rather large impact. The people athletes play with can affect their experience and how comfortable they are while participating in these sports.
York intramural participants found that the teams did affect their experience. The teams were usually chosen either by the staff, or the sign up order, but a few sports did have typically gendered teams.
When asked if they would deem the teams they played on as “fair” in their opinion, Manuella De Castro, a fourth-year music student who has been involved in York’s intramurals says, “No, but the colleges’ athletic reps are working tirelessly to improve it.”
Making sports teams that are seen as “fair” to everyone playing is difficult, especially when discussing gender. Many students prefer co-ed teams, finding that splitting participants based on skill instead of gender is a more inclusive and fair way to seperate them.
Splitting up teams based on gender can also worsen the experience for people who may not identify as a man or a woman, forcing them to choose between both the genders. When asked if their experience playing soccer with co-ed teams made a difference for them, Guy Peritore, a second-year theatre student says, “Of course they did. Depending on who I play with, that determines how my experience will be.”
Cordelia Sutton, a second-year music student who has experience playing volleyball intramurals, felt more comfortable on co-ed teams, stating, “Gendered teams can be constricting, and it can ruin the mood when you don’t really ‘fit’ on either team.”
Participants being able to feel comfortable and safe during these sport events is one of the most important factors when it comes time to play.
Sutton goes on to add that who you play with matters a lot when it comes to sports, and that “being teamed with people of all genders makes it more welcoming and fun.”
The gender restrictions of certain sports have also led to many forfeited games throughout intramurals. When asked about it, De Castro says, “It was heartbreaking to see entire teams forfeit due to the lack of enough female or male players to fill the minimum requirement.”
De Castro adds that in order to prevent teams from forfeiting they then stepped in to play various games at sometimes conflicting hours, although going on to say that regardless of the stress, they were happy to see everyone enjoying themselves.
Deciding sports teams, even university intramural teams, in relation to gender can seem unimportant, but basing teams off of inclusion and equality can make a huge difference to some people. Students have stated that it can help make people feel more included and comfortable, as seen with how it already has affected the students here at York, and how much co-ed team leaders are pushing for a more inclusive experience.