Last Tuesday, UTM Intramurals and Aquatics teamed up to host UTM’s first Innertube Water Basketball Tournament. Set to run for three and a half hours, UTM Intramurals aimed to offer a sport different to the usual UTM sports scene.
Unfortunately, one team pulled out last minute, leaving the other team to play among themselves. Despite the disappointment, the participants all raved about how much fun they had.
During the event, with chlorine wafting up to the viewing gallery, four first-years in yellow or blue innertubes paddled in the cerulean water. The swimming pool safety line divides the 25-meter pool in half, and they play on the right side with low white and blue basketball nets on the deck. Halfway through they switch to water volleyball.
The tournament convenor, Ashley Beckles, told The Medium that the purpose was to “engage the student population differently than [they] normally do.” While Intramural offers a variety of sports from badminton to basketball to cricket and volleyball, their aim was “to get [students] in the pool.”
Water basketball merges the rules of basketball and water polo. Due to basketball’s popularity and the size of the community on campus, in addition to Beckles’ familiarity with the sport, they decided to combine the sports. Ashley Beckles worked alongside the Tournament and Events Coordinator, Jacob Abrams, to form the rules. The rules reflect those of basketball with some small adjustments.
“We tried to keep the integrity of the sport of basketball,” Beckles says. “[We] remove[d] the travelling rule because people are in tubes—they aren’t dribbling the ball, but when it comes to fouls, it is the same: no roughhousing, no horseplay, no splashing.”
As the name suggests, water basketball is basketball played in a pool. Borrowing some of the rules and conventions of water polo and basketball, water basketball offers a different way of playing the popular sport. The sport aims to “even the playing ground” for athletes.
“[I]t’s really just the experience for the participants,” Beckles admited. “I just want them to walk away with a positive experience.”
After a whistle, the ball is moved up the court through passes. Players cannot have possession of the ball if they are not in their innertube. If they get the ball in, they get a point.
Participants can sign up as a team or free agents. The tournament’s capacity is four teams with a maximum of fifteen players on each roster. The game is played using a five-on-five format with twelve-minute halves and a two minute half-time.
The co-ed sport is aimed to be inclusive of all genders and athletic experiences. “We’re just trying to get everyone included, everyone involved in playing,” Abrams said. “Even if you say you’re not the most athletic person, there is definitely a sport to get away from studying.”
Although, the turnout wasn’t what they hoped for, the participants were able to de-stress after class.
Louis Scheffer, one of the participants and an intramural staff member, decided to join because it “sounded fun.” He added that he was free to participate.
“Also, it was a new sport I’ve never tried before,” added Genavieve St. Denis, another participant.
All the participants agreed they would do it again provided there were more people.