Health and safety a factor in intramural decisions

Health and safety are significant issues when it comes to many aspects of university life at Whitworth and university intramurals are no different. Intramural coordinator Jordan Dale will be enacting changes to reflect that concern.

Dale said he generally is not notified for minor injuries, but mentioned that it depends on the extent of the injury.

“If it’s really bad, I hear about it,” Dale said. “If it’s just a twisted ankle, not usually.”

Dale’s staff of referees are trained and certified in CPR and have forms to fill out in the event of injuries and incidents.

“If there’s ever blood or anything, there are forms that my staff has to fill out, and give to UREC,” Dale said.

Basketball and volleyball referee Jamie Carroll mentioned going through CPR training prior to starting the position and the process of dealing with injuries during the season.

“We’re supposed to tell Jordan and then usually we’re supposed to fill out an incident report through the front desk at UREC too,” Carroll said.

This is his first year in the intramural coordinator position, but Dale feels like there have been more incidents than usual this year.

“I don’t know why, but it was just freak accidents that happened out on Omache, and the firetrucks came and ambulances and stuff,” Dale said. “So I would obviously get notified then.

After injuries occur during intramurals, the Health Center’s registered nurse, LeAnn Dettmann, prefers it if students head to the Health Center first.

“We like them to come here first,” Dettmann said. “We can save them expense because of the student health fee.”

The Health and Wellness Fee is $87 per semester and is a required fee for all enrolled day students. The Health Center is located in Shumacher hall and is able to provide consultation visits, basic labs and x-rays, for no additional fee, according to the Whitworth website.

By coming to the Health Center before seeking additional medical assistance, the healthcare professionals at the Health Center are able to triage and determine if further assistance is need, Dettmann said.

Contrary to Dale’s opinion, Dettmann believes that they have seen “an average amount” of intramural injuries this year and the sport with the most injuries is soccer.

“We see a lot of ankle, shin and head injuries,” Dettmann said. “[We see a lot of] head injuries from collisions, mostly from soccer.”

Bubble Ball soccer is a new addition to the intramural program at Whitworth and overlaps in many ways with the traditional game of soccer. Bubble Ball soccer involves inflatable plastic bubbles that a user straps into and plays soccer. Collisions are widespread and the bubble covers the head down to around the knee.

“These things completely cover your extremities [and] your head as well,” Dale said. “It’s really your feet that are at risk, which…is the same risk of injury as soccer, which we deem as reasonable risk and something that we’re going to still continue to play soccer even though there is a risk there.”

As Brandon Barthell found out, the highest risk is the knee area since the rest of the body is surrounded by inflated plastic. Barthell faced his own injury in his very first game of the season and has not been able to play since then. His injury came towards the end of the third quarter when he was playing goalie.

“The ball was coming towards me and I ran up to go kick it and someone on the opposing team was also running to go kick it and I got hit into the goal post,” Barthell said. “As I was in the air, my knee twisted and I was done after that.”

Barthell was not able to walk or put pressure on that leg. He was on crutches for the next two days, but his knee has slowly been improving. He has not been back on the Bubble ball field since his injury. Immediately after the injury, someone came on the field and took his spot and he sat on the sidelines for the rest of the game.

“I had to be helped off the field and we had someone else replace me and I just had to sit,” Barthell said. “I had to sit with my leg up not even watching the game; I was looking the other direction. I just kind of had to wait it out.”

Barthell chose not to go to the Health Center after his injury because it began to heal quicker than he thought it would.

The novelty of Bubble Ball soccer makes it fun for one or two games, but after that interest dies down and forfeits have been an issue during this inaugural season Dale said. The process of picking up players to avoid a forfeit is commonplace in all intramurals, Bubble Ball is no exception.

Dale is making a change next semester that will crack down on picking up players because of safety and liability for intramurals. Players will be required to bring identification to each intramural game.

“You [will] have to bring your ID to the game and check in with the ref,” Dale said. “We had a conference down in Texas that we went to and just heard a lot of scary stories about people suing the school and intramural programs getting shut down.”

No such requirement currently exists and teams are able to pick up players as they choose, whether or not they have signed the liability form, which is what the requirement is seeking to challenge.

“That’s a big change we’re going to make,” Dale said. “That’s standard at a lot of schools; it’s something that we’re behind the times on.”

Intramural basketball and volleyball referee Jamie Carroll thinks that the ID requirement is a good idea and that it will give the referees more “credibility.”

Madeline Ritter, who plays intramural volleyball, understands the need for an identification requirement, but also mentioned times where it was helpful to be able to pick up players at the last minute.

“There were a couple of times where we had to grab people last minute because people would find out like an hour before [about] a study session,” Ritter said. “[Picking up players] was really helpful so we’d have six people to play.”

Intramurals are an important aspect of the university experience. Dale is always looking for ways to protect students and the university with added safety measures. When Bubble Ball was added, there was a specific liability form in addition to the traditional form.

“Just a little added safety there makes it definitely better and more reasonable,” Dale said.

No matter how many safety measures are added, the risk of injury is inherent, Dettmann said. Going forward, for Dale it’s all about maximizing safety, resources and amusement in order to protect the intramural program and get more students involved in intramurals.

“We’re trying to introduce a few more sports that hit different groups of people, but don’t really cost us much more to broaden the program,” Dale said.


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