Freshman Games are a classic Gonzaga tradition that has often introduced new students to the curious and unconventional game of inner tube basketball for years. However, this fall, inner tube basketball will not be one of the four sports included.
According to the Associate Director of Athletics Shelly Radtke, this change is due to a lack of time and space. Inner tube basketball requires using the pool and the process of getting in and out of the water can be too time consuming for students’ busy schedules. Some students also complain about having to swim and get their hair wet.
Over the past few years, the Rudolf Fitness Center (RFC) staff has observed fewer students showing up for inner tube basketball games and an increasing number of forfeits. This pattern is not conducive to a successful Freshman Games experience for students or the RFC.
The RFC is unsure about what exactly is causing the overall decline in intramural participation. Radtke said that GU’s culture is changing in a way that places less emphasis on extracurricular activities, which is contributing to the number of no-shows at intramural games.
“Years ago, there would be die-hard intramural participants and I think there is a correlation between the average GPA going up and being more academic focus and based,” Radtke said. “I think some of the extracurriculars are not as important as they used to be.”
Instead of inner tube basketball, this year’s Freshman Games will include some of the more popular intramural sports: indoor soccer, flag football, volleyball and softball. Inner tube basketball will still continue to be offered as a regular season sport in the fall and the spring.
Cheyenne King, a senior at GU, has played inner tube basketball every year since she tried it for the first time in the Freshman Games. She remembers her team being very successful, which made her a huge fan of the sport.
“Inner tube is really fun because no one comes in already being really good at it,” King said. “It levels the playing field and made it really competitive for everyone.”
Whether a person comes in with previous basketball experience or not, being in an inner tube while shooting baskets takes away any advantage.
When inner tube basketball was introduced as an intramural sport years ago, the RFC had some of the GU basketball players give it a try. According to Radtke, even these extremely well-practiced athletes struggled to make baskets.
The RFC hopes that it will not diminish any interest in the sport for the regular intramural season, even though freshmen will not be introduced to it through the Freshman Games this year.
“Inner tube is different. It’s not like you played it growing up or anything, so you really have no advantage over anyone else,” Radtke said. “It’s a unique sport that we are hoping will still intrigue people to participate in.”
Freshman Games start on Sunday and run until Sept. 23.