Students returning to campus can expect a few changes to the intramural offerings this school year. Rivalry Week games will return to Homecoming Week but waterball will no longer be offered as an intramural sport.
After looking at stats from the most recent season, the Office of Student Life, SRWC staff and the Risk Management office decided to eliminate the university’s most dangerous intramural sport and replace it with three other water sports.
Dr. Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life, said participation in the sport had gone down significantly over the last five years, and injuries had become more common. In the last 2 seasons, four 911 calls were made and, according to stats, students were three times more likely to get injured playing waterball than football.
Participation had dwindled to 10 teams last season, most of which represented social clubs. This number was down significantly from the 21 teams in 2009. Riley also noted the decision came in part because of the negative environment often associated with the physical nature of waterball.
“It is bad enough in football, but we don’t want to continue to do things that make people angry or put them in a negative environment,” Riley said.
ACU was one of the only schools that still offered waterball as an intramural sport, so many including Riley are sad to see it go.
“I’m sad we have to get rid of it because it’s a long-standing tradition, but maybe we were the only ones dumb enough to keep playing it,” Riley said.
Mark Jackson, newly-appointed director of intramurals, said he’s tried to be transparent about the reasoning behind the decision.
“I’m a big believer in letting people know the ‘why’ behind things,” Jackson said. “After conversations with risk management, we knew it was in the best interest of the university to move away from the sport.”
In lieu of waterball, three new water sports will be added to the schedule. In the fall, students can play inner tube water polo or participate in a log rolling weekend tournament. Co-ed water volleyball will be offered in the spring.
Though the decision will be disappointing for some, namely the women of GATA who have dominated the sport the last few years, students can look forward to seeing club rivalry football games return to Homecoming Week.
Last year, the games fell the week before Homecoming on the schedule, but Jackson decided to bring it back as one of his first acts in his new position.
“When I was approached about the job, I knew it was one of the first things I’d do,” Jackson said. “It builds up more excitement for that weekend.”