With the recent COVID-19 outbreak canceling all collegiate sports throughout the country, intramural sports were forced to cancel as well. Badminton, soccer, and softball leagues all had to be closed down after Butler University made the decision to move all classes online for the remainder of the semester. At that point, Bailey Finocchio, Club Sports Coordinator, said that the department started to brainstorm ideas of how to still have a successful intramural spring season.
“We were looking into potentially launching a one-day Intramural Esports Tournament but were still very much in discussions of if the spring semester was the right time for us to do that. What we have implemented now with the three IM Esports leagues, was not what we were planning on doing this spring but more looking to launch in the fall of 2020. This was something we created and implemented specifically due to the new circumstances.”
The intramural sports department created three intramural sports leagues: Rocket League, FIFA 20, and NBA 2K20. All of these leagues are available to be played on both PS4 and Xbox One consoles. The seasons run from April 1st to April 19th with an additional playoff bracket directly after the season ends. In addition to the Esports program, the department has rolled out other programs to keep students engaged and entertained: Trick Shots, Champ Shirt Competition, and Monday Sports Trivia.
Students are thrilled that the new Esports leagues give them the option to compete after their traditional intramural sports seasons were taken away from them.
“I was very excited that IM Sports introduced Esports after COVID-19 ended the IM spring season,” Austin Powell, a FIFA participant said, “sports are a big part of my life and even though I cannot play physical soccer I still get to enjoy the game through FIFA.”
“It’s a great idea and I can’t believe that it wasn’t introduced sooner,” Eric Anderson, a Rocket League participant said, “these leagues still give us the option to interact with other students and have fun while doing so.”
If future participants are scared that Intramural Esports will not be around after the coronavirus ends, Finocchio says that there is no reason to worry.
“We have had positive engagement from the students that are participating in our current IM Esports leagues, so we will definitely look to keep Esports in the following years. How it will look and what games we will offer may differ but I see Esports being a constant offering in our Intramural program moving forward.”