Whether or not politics in intramural sports at Dixie State University exist, some students still believe they are prevalent.
The Dixie Sun News was contacted by a student regarding concerns about supposed favoritism from the intramural sports department. This concern specifically was about the fairness in the process taken in order to choose a team to send to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association regional tournament in Arizona for this basketball season.
“Anytime our tournament finishes in time to send a team, I take whatever team wins the tournament,” said David Howell, assistant director of intramurals. “That’s what I would prefer to do.”
One intramural team questioned why neither of the top two winning teams were sent to represent DSU at the NIRSA tournament.
Dre Smith, a senior integrated studies major from Atlanta, was on an intramural basketball team that was undefeated, yet he was told by a referee that even if their team won the championship it still would not go to Arizona.
“What’s the purpose of winning the championship if the team that’s not even winning the championship is going to go to Arizona?” Smith said.
Howell said he sent out an email to the team captains stating that there was a timing issue for selecting a team to go to the tournament. According to the email he sent out, a team was selected halfway through the season.
“Due to the timing of this regional tournament and in order to ensure we can meet registration deadlines for this tournament, we (the intramural office) will be selecting a team to represent DSU prior to our own school intramural league is over,” said the letter from the email. “… This team will be selected based on their record, appropriate tie breakers (points against) and sportsmanship grade. Just because a team is ranked first in the standings, does not mean they will be selected to represent DSU.
Not all team members were made fully aware of the situation, and that caused confusion.
“We will be changing that over the summer – I’m trying to figure out a better way to do it,” Howell said. “Next fall and spring we are looking to hold an individual NIRSA qualifying tournament [in hopes] to try to alleviate any of how people might say it’s unfair how it’s done.”
Despite the misunderstanding, some still see favoritism in intramural games.
“There was one team we were playing and all of their players knew every single one of the refs and they were buddy-buddy,” Smith said. “With us we didn’t know any of the refs, so it was kind of a lopsided game.”
Howell said he knows the intramural referees can sometimes make bad calls, but he doesn’t think any there is any favoritism happening.
“If I knew of that going on or had any evidence supporting that kind of bias toward players or teams for any reason it might be, those people wouldn’t be working for me,” Howell said.
Ken Turley, a senior integrated studies major from Alamo, Nevada, and one of the supervisors over the intramural department, said there have been instances in every sport when a team didn’t agree with a call, but that’s just the competitive nature of sports.
“Tempers get flared up in things like this, especially in close games,” Turley said. “It’s going to happen in every sport.”
Tyson Williams, a sophomore communication major from Las Vegas, said he also sees favoritism happen sometimes, but he understands why it might.
“[The referees] are students here too, [and] I feel like they lean more toward the people they know,” Williams said. “I’m not saying they always leaned against me because sometimes they leaned for me because they knew me.”
All of the referees go through class time and do rehearsal-like training before every sport starts in order to prep them for being officials, Turley said. He said the intramural staff stresses the fact that they will not express favoritism for any one person or team.