What Are Intramurals?
Intramurals encourage school-wide involvement of all students in physical activity during non-instructional times that occur during the school day. Quality intramurals are student-focused, inclusive, fun events or activities that maximize physical activity participation for all students and “provide something for everyone regardless of age, gender, size, shape, ability, culture or socio-economic status."1 Intramurals can also “reach traditionally inactive students,” “can include a diverse range of activities that can be done daily,” and “provide leadership development for students”.2 Although friendly competition may be an element of an intramural program, it is not the main focus. An intramural program can and should coexist with inter-school sports programs as well as clubs and other opportunities for students that don't focus on physical activity.
It is important to recognize that there are many activities (e.g., cup stacking, card games, or tasks that may link directly to a theme) that can be included in any intramural program that can contribute towards achieving some of the desired outcomes but involve less physical exertion. The social, emotional, inclusive, and engaging advantages of these types of activities are equally important to achieving the overall involvement of all students and can be considered a valuable part of any intramural program. Encouraging student involvement through these types of activities may be a gateway to increasing their involvement in intramurals that do focus on physical activity.
Types and Formats of Intramurals
- Intramurals can be categorized by different types of activities:
- Clubs (e.g., physical activities, yoga, dance, Kilometre Club etc.)
- Low-organization activities (e.g., co-operative games, accuracy challenges, Rock Paper Scissors, baseball etc.)
- Novelty events or activities (e.g., Gym Riots, Moga Madness, winter carnivals, theme days, Jump Rope for Heart etc.)
- Sport Imitations (e.g., 3 on 3, 21, speedball, Newcombe ball, scooter soccer, beachball volleyball etc.)
- Sports (e.g., European handball, soccer, badminton etc.)
- Intramurals can be a one-day event or can take place daily, weekly, monthly, or throughout the year. Intramurals can include leagues, open gym, clubs, one-time activities or events, and novelty games or activities.
Benefits of Intramurals
Intramurals contribute to the goals of the government of Ontario’s Foundations for a Healthy School resource (which aligns with the K-12 School Effectiveness Framework) as well as Ontario’s Well-Being Strategy for Education by fostering school spirit and a sense of belonging for all students. They are a great way to increase student engagement by providing students with opportunities to interact socially with their peers, which fosters a sense of belonging, positive mental health, and greater engagement in both academic and non-academic activities. Participation in intramurals helps students further develop their social skills, co-operation, teamwork, physical literacy, and overall health. Intramurals involve students in school decision making processes and encourage them to be school leaders who share the responsibility of planning, organizing, and implementing physical activity opportunities for others.3 Most importantly, intramurals provide much-needed opportunities for students who do not have the opportunity to participate in organized sport or physical activities within the school or community or fee-for-service activities in the community.
1 Physical and Health Education Canada. (2019). Intramurals. Available at: https://phecanada.ca/activate/intramurals
3 Ministry of Education/Ontario Public Service. (2014). Foundations for a Healthy School. Available at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/healthyschools/resourceF4HS.pdf