The waterball intramural season began Thursday as nine men’s and five women’s teams dove into the pool for their opening games, but not without a twist.
The intramural directors put a new rule into effect that has impacted the way players are able to come in and out of games.
“From now on, during a substitution, before a player on the side goes in, they must wait for the other player coming out to touch the wall in the sub zone first, then they will be allowed to come in,” said Kyle Pinson, director of Intramural Sports.
The change is expected to lessen the amount of stops and allow the game to flow better.
“I believe this will allow substitutions to go more smoothly and offer less confusion during the subbing process,” said Molly Bagley, director of Aquatics and Events. “It’ll be faster, allow swimmers in and out of the water in a safe manner and protect the individuals who are playing in the deep end.”
The risk of injury was the main reason for the change.
“We are definitely hoping to have fewer dislocated shoulders this season,” Bagley said.
This has been the second consecutive year that the waterball season has begun with a new rule change. Last year, the “no contact rule” was put into effect before the season began.
“The no contact rule was established last year and it states that you are no longer allowed to wrestle or pin an opposing player who does not have possession of the ball,” Pinson said. “Whenever someone doesn’t have the ball, they are not allowed to be held down like they have been in the past.”
The change seemed to have gone over well. The biggest impact was on the players, but it also affected those officiating the game.
“With that change, the refs had to focus on not watching just the ball all the time,” Pinson said. “They had to see everything else that was going on with players that were not near the action. We set it up to where one referee would watch the ball while another would scan the pool to make sure no one was involved with non-ball wrestling.”
Even with the changes, waterball promises to remain one of the most popular intramural sports offered.
“We want to make the game safer without having to take away the things that make it fun,” Pinson said. “We want students to continue to actively participate in all sports offered here, but our upmost importance will always be safety.”