Med students celebrate an intramural basketball win.

Med students celebrate an intramural basketball win.

University of Chicago Athletics / The Chicago Maroon

Whether you’re on the lookout for a serious contest or just looking to get some fresh air, UChicago’s diverse set of intramural and club sports has something for everyone. With participants from both the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, intramural sports offer a popular release from academics and a great way to bond with peers, while club sports provide a more intense and competitive sporting environment.

Out of the plethora of intramural sports available, broomball is one sport that seems to have ingrained itself as part of UChicago “tradition.” In the brutal Chicago winter, students head to the Midway ice rink to take part in a modified version of ice hockey with sneakers, brooms, and a tiny soccer ball in place of a puck. Another modified sport popular with students year-round is inner-tube water polo, played in Ratner’s indoor pool.

Over the last few years, Harry Potter enthusiasts have also popularized Quidditch. Flying brooms become, well, normal brooms straddled by players, and the snitch becomes a rubber ball tucked inside the waistband of a speedy volunteer.

Apart from these unique sports, more traditional ones like soccer, flag football, and basketball are also extremely popular. Many intramural athletes were stars on their high school teams, although any level of experience is welcome and encouraged. The athletics department offers co-ed, men’s, and women’s leagues for various sports. These leagues come with the traditional amenities like referees, playoffs, and trophies. In addition, there are tons of individual leagues in games like chess, backgammon, and pool for students to delve into.

Though not quite an intramural sport, another UChicago tradition is midnight soccer, where students form house teams and play other houses on the Midway Plaisance at around 9 or 10 p.m. every week (so not actually at midnight). The results and scores are not official, but it is a great way to build camaraderie while getting in some exercise.

Club sports are essentially social circles unto themselves. The University creates a distinction between clubs focused on competition and those that are focused on recreation. The schedules for club sports are more grueling than intramural sports, which can pose a challenge to some. But these are outweighed by benefits like social bonding and, sometimes, the chance to travel and compete.

You can sign up for intramural sports through your house’s intramural representative or online through IMLeagues.com. Club sports can normally be reached through Facebook pages or their respective websites.