On Friday afternoons at 2 p.m., the community recreation field outside the Stott Center is filled with football players. No, this isn’t the Portland State Vikings tuning up at a practice. Instead, it’s the athletes of the school’s intramural flag football league. These competitors gather every week, rain or shine, to battle it out for nothing more than pride, glory, and some friendly competition.
The league is a place for good-natured fun, but make no mistake, these teams and players are out there to compete hard and win. Strategies and plays are conceived long before game day arrives. Free agent players who show up looking to join a team are fought over by teams looking to make upgrades or fill voids. Referees are subject to the same treatment you would expect to see in an NFL game and if you listen hard enough, you may even hear some occasional trash talk.
Around 45 players showed up on Friday to compete for a crown. Football’s head coordinator David Jer-wei Chang is very excited about the changes that he has brought to the league where he started playing as a freshman.
”We reduced the number of active players on each team from seven to five. Which means we will have more teams, more variety and make it easier for people to bond with their teams,” said Chang.
Football is a very obvious passion for Chang. He worked very hard through the summer to make sure that this year was better than the disaster that was last year. He believes that the little things will help create better unity for teams.
”We also added captain meetings this year, which is a better way of relaying information to their team,” said Chang. “This way it holds teams responsible for themselves and helps me communicate to the entire league via seven people rather than 45.”
The dedication of some of these players is evident just by their appearance. Cleats and turf shoes are considered proper footwear, a few quarterbacks can be seen with towels hanging out the back of their shorts to ensure they never get a bad grip on the ball, and a few players even paint black under their eyes to prevent glare, either for the improved visibility or just to intimidate the opposition.
”So far there has been a lot of enthusiasm about coming out and playing. Once the season kicks off we will find out how the actual games are running and how people feel about flag football this season,” said Chang.
Flag football is not the only intramural sport receiving a good turnout this term. Campus Recreation has put together several other leagues throughout the week. In the small gym at the Stott Center, competitive indoor soccer is held on Tuesday nights and recreational indoor soccer on Thursday nights. In the main gym, volleyball is played on Tuesdays and basketball is played Wednesday nights.
Not sure what time your team plays or where? This year all leagues will be equipped with online schedules on the intramurals website that can be accessed by following links from www.campusrec.pdx.edu/im. The Campus recreation department switched over to a new website system during the summer, which is better suited to organize leagues and inform teams.
After the first two weeks of the term were designated for practice games, leagues will finally begin their regular seasons this week. From this point on, the games count. Standings will be kept and can be viewed on the intramurals website.
If you missed the boat on joining a league team during this term and you still want to play, not to worry. You can still participate in a sport. Indoor soccer, basketball and volleyball drop-in games are held weekly. Just show up and play, no team required. Soccer drop-in night is every Wednesday from 9 to 11 p.m. Basketball drop-in is held Sundays from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. and volleyball drop-ins are on Mondays from 9 to 11 p.m.
There are also more leagues to look forward to later this year. A wider array of basketball leagues will be offered come winter term, as the league splits into competitive and recreational divisions. Much later in the school year, the popular intramural softball league will start in the spring.
The Portland State intramurals program was overhauled over the summer in order to improve the experience for its participants. As the sports leagues are just getting underway, it will soon become evident if the program has truly been improved. If the scene outside the Stott Center on Friday afternoons is any indication of things to come, intramurals have a bright future.