SPU Sports Pulse

Two of the hardest football hits I have witnessed this fall were not even on Sportscenter. They were not a part of any NFL, NCAA, high-school or Pee-Wee football game. They were right here at good old SPU. The intensity level of intramural football belies the fact that, if you win it all, your grand prize is a T-shirt. A T-shirt that is a bright crayon blue. A T-shirt that seemingly only comes in extra-large. That’s right, folks, it’s intramural football time!

Such ferocity over a relatively meager prize demands a deeper examination. There must be a more enticing goal than looking like an over-sized walking blueberry. For answers, I turned to the ones who take the brunt of player frustration: the referees.

Much maligned throughout the history of sports, these common scapegoats take quite a verbal lashing Saturdays on Wallace Field. The strange thing is, most of SPU’s all-student cast of referees play intramural football themselves. Being an intramural football participant and a referee (though not at the same time; there might be some complaints) gives these students an opportunity to see both sides of the story.

"Now that guys are in college they have nothing else to athletically challenge them," observes long-time intramural referee Jon Mack. "They come out on Saturday mornings … they just want to hit each other." Ah-ha! Our first clue! Participants appear to enjoy hitting each other. This assertion seems a little bit strange considering that the SPU version of intramural football consists of flag-pulling instead of tackling. Why would students hit each other when such behavior is not required and, in fact, damages their chances of winning?

For an answer to this burning question, I turned to yet another intramural referee/participant, Stephen Bretz, who said, "Guys take it too seriously. They’re trying to fulfill some college dream because they didn’t make it into college football."

A common problem among parents, especially dads, is the tendency to want to live vicariously through their children by pressing them intensely into one or many sports. Recently, star Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens was asked to leave his son’s baseball game for arguing with the umpire. For a major league pitcher who has played for much more than a T-shirt (although an XL would probably fit him nicely), his actions seem fairly ridiculous, especially since, unlike most fathers, he has had a great deal of success in the field of professional athletics.

What we have in the case of intramural football players is a bit less drastic, but, according to our referees, a bit more complicated. It appears that players are living vicariously through themselves. Like an out-of-control dad, they push themselves to greatness despite the anonymity of intramural athletics.

Luckily, there is a simple solution to this psychological problem: become a referee. So gather all your friends that fit the symptoms of self-vicarious living, and tell them to sign up. They can even get work study. Once your friend gets on the field and experiences first-hand the garbage dished out to referees, they will become a new person. Oh, and I want to take this chance to apologize to that 10th grade basketball referee for calling him blind. They can make some really realistic-looking glass eyes nowadays. Seriously.

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Title: SPU Sports Pulse | Author: Dylan Romero | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2004-10-27 | Internal ID: 4150