Sports for all

Intramural basketball unites people across campus

Eddie Kerekes, Sports Editor

In the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Grace, Principal Ed Rooney’s secretary, claims that “the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies [and] dickheads” all look up to the titular character.

There’s something that unites all types of students at Case Western Reserve University, similar to the way Bueller unites all of his classmates. That activity is intramurals (IM’s), specifically IM basketball. Fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, pre-meds, law students, graduate students, varsity athletes, nursing students, engineers and humanities majors all play IM basketball, at least according to a survey sent out to the captains of the teams playing in the 2017 season.

Graduate student Dustin Narcisse, captain of the team Law & Basketball, said there was no difference in the playing style between undergraduates and graduate students. “I really couldn’t tell the difference,” he said. “Everyone plays tough. [Sports] is the equalizer.”

Basketball is one of the most popular IM sports at CWRU. A total of 50 teams and 423 students are participating this season. Daniel Conway, assistant director for Intramural and Club Sports at CWRU, said that he’s seen similar numbers in the past.

“The participation numbers fluctuate a little bit every year, but trends have remained the same over the past decade,” he added.

The regular season started with the new semester on Jan. 18 and ends on Feb. 8, with the playoffs beginning the next day. The sport is split up into three leagues: co-rec, Greek and open. Each league offers something different for the teams involved.

The co-rec league is mixed gender. Every one of the five approved teams has at least three self-identifying males and females. In addition to a membership requirement, there is also a required number of people of each gender playing at all times. Conway clarified, “The Co-Rec league requires teams to play with a certain ratio of male and female players on the court.”

The Greek league is, as the name suggests, open to teams from Greek organizations. This season Phi Gamma Delta, Delta Chi, Sigma Chi, Phi Delta Theta (Phi Delt), Delta Tau Delta and Delta Sigma Phi are the organizations with teams in the league. Phi Delt, Phi Mu and Pi Beta Phi also have teams compete in the co-rec league.

The open league is, just as clearly, open to everyone. There are teams consisting of players from fraternities, sororities, multiple varsity sports teams and quite a few graduate programs. The 39 teams are split up into seven divisions of five teams and one division of four teams. The open league also has the most artistic team names with puns (Cadavaliers, The MEMe Team, MAcc Daddies), inside jokes (RIP Chauncey Blakeslee, Pants Are Optional), arcane references (Bowl Cut Maintenance, Backyard Basketball) and the obvious (A Basketball Team) populating the standings.


The creative names showcase one of the main reasons for playing in the league: having fun. Of the 20 team captains who responded to questions, 12 (60 percent) mentioned either fun or love of basketball as a reason for forming a team. A good sample of this type of response came from fourth-year student Brendan Lynch, captain of the team Guenther’s Warriors. He said, “I love basketball and I love to compete.” Third-year student Cristina DiFranco, who never played in an official league before, added, “Playing organized basketball has been really fun.”

For a few graduate students, the IM league provides them with the last experience to play organized basketball with their friends for a few years, or sometimes even ever.

Narcisse said, “Most of the people I’m playing with… I won’t see for a long time.”

He added that the league presents an opportunity for them to get together one more time and play basketball that’s not just pick-up.

The competitive spirit goes beyond the graduate students. A solid 55 percent of the survey respondents projected their team to either win the league or make a run at the title. As much as everyone wants to be a winner, clearly that will not be the case.

Though the league has a very high favorability rating among students there have been some complaints. Two captains mentioned the lack of referees officiating games as a problem. Graduate student Daniel Murray believes that hiring referees will “make the games better.” Conway said that no IM programs at CWRU currently use student referees. However, he added that the program has done so in past years and is “not opposed to trying them out again.”

Scheduling was another issue mentioned by the captains, particularly around playoff time.

Murray, referring to last season, said,“due to some confusion … we were unable to participate in the playoffs.”

Fourth-year student Thomas Nolan spoke about a similar problem affecting his team two years ago. Conway hopes that the system put into place last season to schedule playoff games helps to stop these problems from happening. Before the tournament begins, team captains meet at a special playoff scheduling meeting to determine the time that works for both teams. Conway said the system, “gives teams an opportunity to have [a] say in the playoffs and some flexibility when their game might be scheduled.”
Despite a few minor drawbacks, IM basketball is very popular with CWRU students and it’s easy to see why. It’s low-stakes (the winners get T-shirts) but still competitive, fun and a great way to bond with friends. IM basketball is for everyone, no matter their academic standing, major or skill level.