Let's face it, there are more than 6.9 million high school athletes around the country, and according to the NCAA, the highest number of them who continue playing in college is 10.4 percent of the senior boys who play ice hockey.
If we do the math, our chances for being college athletes aren't too good, even if we are blessed by the sporting gods with undeniable talent. Lucky for us, most colleges understand we aren't all going to be the face of the athletic department, so they offer up the world of intramurals, or recreational sports, for college students.
Starting out in Greek life around campuses, intramural competitions have expanded to all students and to nearly all sports under the sun. Not to be confused with college club sports, intramural sports are played by students who are just looking to stay fit and meet new people. Most teams don't hire coaches and just rely on skilled players to step in and help coach.
For those of you staying in our great Sunshine State for college, here's my list of the Top 4 intramural schools:
1. University of Florida: The Gator chomp doesn't just dominate the rankings in the SEC. Intramural competitors at UF take full advantage of access to some of the nicest complexes in the country. Enrolled students, their spouses/partners, any employers associated with UF and their spouses/partners can sign up free for competition. The most popular fall sports are flag football, co-ed softball, ultimate Frisbee and indoor soccer. The sports offered during spring semester are track, swimming, basketball and racquetball. For those interested in less traditional sporting experiences, the Gator intramural program offers Wii sport championships as well as cornhole leagues and rock, paper, scissors competitions. No, I am not pulling your leg. www.recsports.ufl.edu
2. Florida State University: For most students in Tallahassee, bleeding garnet and gold isn't a suggestion, it's a requirement. Now that the 'Noles have taken over the driver's seat in D1 football, the pride that engulfed the Bobby Bowden nation is back and running through FSU's popular intramural program. With a booming Greek life in Tally, you would think fraternities and sororities would dominate the more than 50 sports and events. However, although Greeks are a huge part of the intramural program, a broad group of students and faculty members takes part. A downside is the wait list for teams to get the call-up to play, but according to the intramural website, over the past few years 80 percent of waiting teams get a spot. One of the most popular sports is fishing, with competitions taking place at the lakes surrounding the campus. Enrolled, active students are free; summer passes are $20 for students not taking classes. www.fsu.campusrec.com
3. University of South Florida: The local boys aren't the new kids in town anymore, and some experts even say USF has jumped into Florida's Big 3 with perennial powerhouses UF and FSU. The same can be said for its intramural program. With one of the largest campuses and undergrad enrollments in the state, it is no wonder participation in intramural sports is high. One of the most popular sports on campus is ultimate Frisbee, which is a combo of soccer, hockey and throwing a Frisbee. Unlike most schools, USF broadcasts the ejection list of athletes on its website, which allows teams scouting the free agent market to stay away from the bad apples. The teams practice and play on campus fields and rarely travel farther than the 813. A point system is established for all branches, and all hold annual playoffs and crown of champions. Free with USF ID. usfweb2.usf.edu
4. University of Miami: People say the "swag" was invented at the U, and the swag definitely carries into its intramural program. Not only did LeBron and Chris Bosh take their talents to South Beach, athletes from around the country also participate in non-D1 competition. Under the UM family, there are different intramural branches (Pan-Hellenic, Men's, Women's, etc). Like most schools, the basic sports are offered. You don't have to be the most talented participant on the roster; at UM there are different levels so you can be competitive but not pushed. Free to Wellness Center members (students/faculty); if you are a student but not a center member there is a $20 fee. www.miami.edu
Going out of state to college? Check out imleagues.com for information about your school's options.