SUNY Oswego Campus Recreation looking to bounce back after COVID, increase number of students playing sports on campus

OSWEGO, N.Y. — SUNY Oswego’s campus-wide athletic program, Campus Recreation, has had trouble getting students involved after COVID, either participating in campus sports or working out in the on-campus gyms, the Campus Recreation director said.

“It was starting to trail down before COVID even, so about 2015-16 we started seeing a decrease in the number of teams per sport. One of the best examples is our broomball trends, it was a sport where we had 40 to 50 teams in a season. Now we have about 10 or 12, it was a pretty significant drop,” said Brian Wallace, director of Campus Recreation.

Broomball is an intramural sport that Wallace said he wants to see regain the popularity it once had. It’s played in the hockey arena on ice, but you don’t need to know how to skate because you can wear sneakers on the ice. Instead of a hockey stick and puck, a broom and a soft ball are used instead.

“It’s a blast to play and here’s the thing about broomball, no one comes in and has played broomball before. So, it’s a sport where everybody is fairly equal, besides for your athleticism, no one’s awesome at it and anyone can play,” said Wallace.

Compared to intramural sports and overall involvement in Campus Recreation, club sports are on the rise, said Wallace.

“I don’t think traditional team sports are as popular anymore. But here’s something interesting, I believe our club sports are trending up. Students who are looking for a sport to do, are going to want to do something that’s a little more involved like a club, rather than dropping in once and a while for intramural sports,” said Wallace.

Intramural sports and club sports differ because intramural is typically more laid back, less serious, but still playing for a little championship of some kind. Some intramural sports are tournaments rather than a season. Club sports are a step up for intramural, where there is a full scheduled season, practices and a more meaningful championship because the competition is other SUNY schools.

Scott Harrison, assistant director of Campus Recreation, deals mostly with intramural sports and said he thinks students benefit in the classroom from being active. The semesterly fee for using the fitness centers is now included in tuition, which is helping to get more students moving, Harrison said.

“More students are taking advantage of the on-campus gyms… I think these students are benefiting by helping their mental health, getting active and staying active,” said Harrison.

Students told Harrison that working out at the on-campus gyms and participating in intramural sports have helped ease their depression, he said.

“An article studied anti-depressant medications and exercise. And the benefits, the impacts and the effectiveness of each on people’s state of mind, depression specifically in this study, and if you look at hurdles and barriers of being successful in the classroom, mental health is one big one,” said Harrison.

Anisa Holder, a student employee for Campus Recreation, said working in Lee Hall has allowed her to meet new people, experience new activities and see campus life through a different scope.

“I really like working here. I get to watch people have fun and enjoy the sports that they love playing and it makes me happy,” said Holder.

The highlighted areas illustrate parts on SUNY Oswego’s campus that Campus Recreation events take place, such as Lee Hall, Cooper Fitness Center, and the Deborah Stanley Arena. Source: Google Earth

Harrison said working for Campus Recreation allows students to get involved outside of the classroom. It opens the door for more physical activity than a typical work environment, he said.

“Often times, based on their interest and their participation and engagement in those activities, leads them to want to work here,” said Harrison.

Campus Recreation is trying to gain more popularity by offering more recreational events outside of traditional sports.

“We also offer rec sports such as bingo, Texas Hold ‘Em and other little games to attract more students that don’t participate or want to participate in non-traditional sports,” said Harrison.

With the addition of these different games to offer to students, Campus Recreation has started to include different variations of traditional sports to get more students wanting to play. Wallace said it’s all about getting students to try something for the first time.

“Sometimes we have to meet [the students] where they’re at and see what we are offering for students for sport and activity and does that match up with what they want to do. Let’s take a season and turn it into a tournament, so it’s not as long of a commitment. Let’s do dodgeball, make it a tournament, and put it under the black lights and make it glow in the dark,” said Wallace.

Wallace said he has high hopes for the future of Campus Recreation’s flag football league in the years to come because of a new change in the Olympics.

“We are hoping for a boost in popularity in kids wanting to play flag football since it’s becoming an Olympic sport. Hopefully more people seeing it on TV will boost their want to play it here,” said Wallace.

Campus Recreation offers traditional and non-traditional sports that are open to any current SUNY Oswego student year-round. Sign-ups for leagues and tournaments can be found on the SUNY Oswego Campus Recreation website, as well as in emails sent to students from Campus Recreation.