Floorball is gaining more and more attention from people looking for inclusive, fun, engaging, and cost effective sports. Organizations, business, schools, and Universities are starting to find out about Floorball. People are getting educated through online materials, websites, videos, in-person demonstrations, and conferences.
I had the pleasure of getting connected with the staff at Salisbury University in Maryland. The Rec Staff learned about Floorball at the 2017 NIRSA National Conference, and were interested in learning how to add Floorball to their intramural sports programs. Historically Salisbury has had a robust floor hockey program, which has been a staple for their students. In fall of 2017 they decided to drop floor hockey and give Floorball a try. I was fortunate enough to work with their staff to help them get the sport off the ground.
As with any new sport there were some challenges. The biggest challenge was educating students about Floorball. Floorball was marketed for the season, but they did have teams drop out because it wasn’t floor hockey. This has more to do with a lack of familiarity of the sport in relation to floor hockey. Staff did what they could for marketing the sport doing a demo event to give students a chance to try it out. The season kicked off with 12 teams including one all girls team, which the staff felt was a great start given a new sport. Another challenge faced was learning the game and being able to officiate. In my conversations with the Rec Staff I created a training video for them outlining basic rules, looking for fouls, and other important information for them to get them off the ground. My intent was to give them enough information to call the game as intended, but not overwhelm them with information. As the player and officials become more comfortable with their understanding of the game they will be able to take their development that much further in the future.
The students who participated in the sport enjoyed playing. The feedback the IM Staff got was that once players understood the flow of the game they preferred the finesse component of the sport versus the more physical nature of floor hockey. The equipment staff routinely had students coming during the week to check out sticks to practice, train, and learn. While these are great components to seeing a new sport grow in the future, the more important aspect that came from this was buy in from the students. They had a few examples of students getting so involved in learning the sport that they became an ambassador for the sport within the intramural department. Having these components working together bode well for the long term growth of the sport at Salisbury University. For the time being I looks like Floorball is here to stay.
Floorball is growing, and it’s fun to see more people catch on to what I’ve seen and envisioned the sport becoming. To help people across the country get involved and get moving is encouraging for the long term development of the sport. Too often we shy away from trying new things. It could be a fear of failure, knowledge, willingness to try, or just keeping the status quo. In the field of recreation we use data to support our existence, and a significant drop in participation isn’t always a good thing. However, doing so may push us further than before. Needless to say I’m excited with what the Rec Staff are doing and I look forward to see how they will continue to grow Floorball at the University.