Intramural sports to return as delta variant looms

Intramural+sports+look+to+resume+normal+programming+within+COVID-19+guidelines+following+Hurricane+Ida.

Matthew Tate

Intramural sports look to resume normal programming within COVID-19 guidelines following Hurricane Ida.

Robbie Eschete, Contributing Reporter

When students return to campus, things will be far from normal between recovering from Hurricane Ida and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, intramural sports returning to Tulane University this fall is a step in the right direction.

In March 2020, students watched helplessly as the university canceled events and transitioned from in-person to remote learning indefinitely due to COVID-19. According to Korey Lane, assistant director of Tulane Campus Recreation, who oversees the Intramural Sports program, that was the last time in-person team sports leagues such as soccer and basketball occured on campus. 

“Since then, though, we’ve continued to offer online programming such as eSports as well as individual, socially distanced in-person leagues including tennis, pickleball and ping pong,” Lane said. 

A year and a half later, much of the student activities are resuming, albeit not quite the same as they once were. “We planned to resume (and continue to, post-Ida) team sports leagues this fall, to the degree that guidance from Tulane, as well as city/state/federal guidelines, allows,” Lane said.

Much like in a professional setting, cleaning and sanitizing equipment, mask-wearing and social distancing, when possible, will now creep into the world of intramural sports. According to Lane, these guidelines and those unique to intramural sports make it possible for their return. Intramural sports will only be available to Tulane students, faculty, staff and alumni with Reily Recreation Center access, who are vaccinated or can provide a recent negative COVID-19 test to participate. 

Although Tulane is one of the top universities in the U.S. regarding its student, faculty and staff vaccination rates, this does not mean the university is risk-free. 

“Of course, even with all these precautions, breakthrough transmission is still an unfortunate possibility, and if a participant does return a positive test, we maintain participation records that will allow us to assist the Tulane contact tracers in reaching out to anyone potentially impacted,” Lane said. 

When asked what would happen to the intramural program if there was another return to virtual learning, Lane hopes that will not be the case. But, “should such a transition be required, whether due to COVID or (as we’re seeing now post-Ida) other circumstances, we will do as we did during the past year-and-a-half: we will continue to adapt and do everything we can to provide the best possible experience to the Tulane community,” Lane said. 

Since the onset of COVID-19, the emergence of eSports as an intramural program makes staying connected and competitive while distancing from one another more attainable. Esports may show their value sooner rather than later. “Historically, a significant proportion of our officials come out of our participants, so the COVID-necessitated reduction in offerings over the past year has certainly had a disruptive impact on our recruitment efforts,” said Lane. 

Without enough participants in the pool, it will not be easy to find the people to officiate these events. “In advance of our planned resumption of leagues later in the semester, we’ll continue to encourage folks who are interested in sport, willing to learn the skill set of an official, or seeking a great way to be more engaged on campus to come join our team,” Lane said.