are recreational sports organized within a set geographic area. The term derives from the Latin words intra muros meaning "within walls", and was used to indicate sports matches and contests that took place among teams from "within the walls" of an ancient city (as opposed to a varsity team
In the United States and Canada, varsity sports teams are the principal athletic teams representing a college, university, high school or other secondary school. Such teams compete against the principal athletic teams at other colleges/universities, or in the case of secondary schools, against...
which competed with teams from other cities and towns).
The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan
created the first intramural sports departments in 1913. Elmer Mitchell
Elmer D. Mitchell was an American football and basketball coach in Michigan who is considered the father of intramural sports. He was the first varsity basketball coach at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the founder of that school's intramural sports program...
, a graduate student at the time, was named the first Director of Intramural Sports at the University of Michigan in 1919 and the first recreational sports facility in the country opened at the University of Michigan. Mitchell is considered the "father of intramural sports" and taught a class in intramural sports taken by William Wasson, founder of the National Intramural Association (NIA), the forerunner to the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA).
Mitchell later authored Intramural Athletics (ED Mitchell - AS Barnes, 1928), and Intramural Sports. He co-authored Intramural Sports with Pat Mueller.
Today, "intramural" tournaments are still organized within a specific community or municipal area, between teams of equivalent age or athletic ability. For example, intramural sports programs are often organized on college campuses to promote competition and fun among the students. "Extramural" or varsity games, are games played between teams from different geographic regions or towns.
For most schools and campuses, Intramural sports are used to promote wellness and allow students who do not compete on a national level an opportunity to be active.
Intramural sports in the United States
The National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), a professional organization based in Corvallis, Oregon, provides a network of more than 4,000 highly trained professionals, students and Associate Members in the recreational sports field throughout the United States, Canada and other countries. In most of the world outside North America, sports scholarships and college sports on the North American model do not exist so the distinction between college and intramural sports has no relevance and is not made. One of the early innovators of intramural sports in the US was Forrest Craver
Forrest Eugene "Cap" Craver was a college football player and coach and athletic director who helped to pioneer physical education programs at the collegiate level including the introduction of intramural sports....
of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Craver began the intramural sports program at Dickinson in the late 1920s or early 1930s.
- C. Jensen & S. Overman. Administration and Management of Physical Education and Athletic Programs. 4th edition. Waveland Press, 2003 (Chapter 14, "Intramural Recreation").
- D. Wade & S. Mayhew Everything I know about Intramurals, I learned from Gary Cahen (1st edition, Iota Press, 2005.)