There’s a battle that’s been brewing for a long time. You’ve undoubtedly seen or heard a lot about it. You may have acted on it yourself, or you’ve largely left it alone. What I’m talking about is the battle between physical activity engagement and static activity engagement. In short we’re talking about how to get people moving.
Working in Campus Recreation I’ve noticed a few things over the years. It’s becoming increasingly harder to connect students with physical activity. The norms of today are drastically different that those 15 years ago. I’m not saying video games and phones are wrong, and frankly they’re not going away. What I’m speaking to is a desire to make physical activity an everyday part of people’s lives. I’ve seen some of the challenges our society faces long-term through inactivity. In an ideal world students are getting what they need and making physical activity the norm in their lives. Physical Educators have shifted and made great strides in their work in school, but they fight an uphill battle. A lot of students are growing up with less and less social interaction, or necessary skills for social interaction as they age into adults.
One of the challenges faced is coming up with ways to make playing sports, working out, getting physical activity and social interaction more fun than sitting alone on a phone or computer. That’s one of the challenges face collegiate recreation professional every day. It’s one of the reasons why I believe the fitness industry is in a constant cycle. Everyone is looking for the next fad. What they’re saying is, aside from business perspective, what do people want, what are they looking for, what’s going to drive people to an activity. The hope is that through this process we’re able to grab someone’s attention long enough to enact some change in their behavior. Everyone has a different path to that end, and it continues to be a challenge going forward.
I routinely have conversations with colleagues about this stuff. I’m always inquiring and seeking out what’s working and what’s not. I also want to find out why it’s working or not working so I can better approach my own challenges. However, my end game is to provide a diverse programming base to retain and attract new students. One of those trends and opportunities I’ve used in my programming is Floorball.
The game of Floorball is bringing young college students out of their dorms, experiencing campus recreation through a broad, co-ed sport. What I’ve found in offering floorball was that it provides a different kind of atmosphere from basketball and volleyball. Since most kids in my area don’t grow up playing hockey the skill level for most is roughly the same. Even if they do have the stick handling, working with hockey players they usually comment on the conditioning required to play and love it.
Through floorball I’ve noticed newer students come out to events or intramural sports that aren’t coming out otherwise. That is one of the more important aspects to how the sport has helped me attract new students to the department. I’ve even begun to see informal games start up during the day between students.
While I was the driving force behind it in the beginning it has slowly taken on a life of its own by the students. I think it is worth a look by all campus recreation professionals to consider adding floorball to their programming.