Author: Julie Xu
With about 500 students playing intramural sports at Occidental each year, the intramural basketball program is gaining more recognition as student interest continues to grow.
Currently, 5×5 intramural basketball is most popular. “There are 16 teams competing this year. We have [had] great turnout,” head of intramural sports Sae Woon Jo said.
Due to the fact that each team has different skill levels, the teams are divided into two different leagues. The A League includes the teams that have experience playing basketball competitively. The B League allows students to play basketball without the competitive pressure of the more experienced A League.
Furthermore, the increasing number of students signed up to play 5×5 basketball this year has forced the B League to divide the players into two separate pools: Pool A and Pool B.
Intramural basketball has seen increased team depth this season because it gives students a chance to become more physically active, engage in competition and spend time with teammates. “I got involved because I love basketball but definitely couldn’t make varsity. I just like playing around with some friends,” Oliver Saks (first-year), a member of the Semi Bros team, said.
Even though these students are not NCAA athletes, the players practice and play on the same court as the varsity team. “They are given the opportunity to play in the same environment as the varsity athletes,” Jo said.
Intramural basketball has also benefited from Jo’s leadership.
Since he took over as head of intramural sports in 2007, intramural basketball has had an unprecedented amount of student participation, especially compared to all other intramural sports. “Pick[ing] up basketball is a statement of our society and as a result, the basketball culture on this campus is strong,” Jo said.
Some of the players also attribute the program’s success to basketball’s relative ease. “Basketball is easy to play. All you need is a ball, a court, a few people and a basket,” Andrew Featherston (first-year) said.
Because intramural basketball is not perceived as a demanding sport, many of the students who play 5×5 basketball in the spring will continue to play again next year. In addition to this, many will play 3×3 basketball in the fall to supplement their spring participation.
As the intramural department continues to grow, many students are requesting a new sport on the intramural roster. As long as there is a demand by students, the athletic department is willing to add another sport. “My goal is to add one sport each year. However, I want to have a quality number of sports where there is solid participation by the students, like the basketball team,” Jo said.
As the basketball season wraps up, the teams are getting ready for the playoffs.
The B League will play for the championship on April 20 and the A League will play for the title on April 12.
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