Basketball is a game of offense and defense, rebounds and steals, fast breaks and no-look passes. No matter who plays the game, men or women, young or old, the same rules apply - except during intramural co-ed basketball games at Western.
In a standard game of basketball, shots count for one, two or three points, depending on where the shot was made from.
In typical pick-up games, such as ones at the Wade King Student Recreation Center, shots are worth one or two points, no matter who is playing.
Co-ed intramural games at Western have gender-specific rules.
A foul shot made by a woman is worth two points, not one. A standard shot or lay-up is worth three points, as opposed to the normal two points, and a shot from behind the three-point line counts for four.
The point rules, which are an industry standard in co-ed recreational leagues, help promote sports participation among a broader range of students, said Pete Lockhart, Campus Recreation Services assistant director of programming and services.
Western’s intramural program, like many other schools, is a member of the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association, Lockhart said. The national association helps guide many aspects of intramurals on campus. Western’s program uses rules from the National Federation of State High School Associations, with some modifications such as rules involving time constraints.
Since there is no specific rulebook for co-ed recreational sports such as basketball, the NIRSA put together a set of guidelines. Six different member institutions created their own set of rules in connection with NIRSA’s, which are featured on NIRSA.org. Half of them use the same point rule as Western.
Aleeta Summers, a senior and intramural player, said she felt the rule was not belittling to women.
“I feel like [the rule] is equal because it’s co-ed, and guys have an advantage over women anyways, physically,” Summers said. “So, it’s justified.”
Senior Philip Kohnken, another player, said the rule helps give all co-ed intramural athletes a fair opportunity to compete.
“I feel [the rule] provides girls with more of a chance to play,” Kohnken said.
Lockhart said one reason for implementing the rule was to encourage more women to sign up for intramural sports.
Similar gender-oriented rules are used in co-ed volleyball and flag football leagues.
In volleyball, the nets are at a lower height to prevent men from blocking women’s shots. In flag football, teams cannot run a certain amount of plays without a woman actively involved.
“What it kind of comes down to is as soon as they get to college, and out of the high school structure system, a lot of people—not just women, but women more so than men—don’t necessarily have any interest in being ultra-competitive,” Lockhart said.
“The female population tends to devote their time to fitness classes.”
Lockhart said the point rule should not be thought of as just an incentive for women to participate in intramurals, but also as a way to ensure players of all genders have a chance to be competitive.
“In order to ensure participation works, and that everyone gets a fair shot, certain rules are applied to make sure everyone is included on the court,” he said.
The point rule can have downsides, particularly when it is used for the wrong reason.
In the past, teams have been known to pass the ball to female players in order to take advantage of the point rule when games are close.
Lockhart said such strategies are not what the point rule was instituted to do.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Lockhart said.
Currently, the intramural program at Western offers co-ed teams in recreational and competitive leagues. Co-ed basketball was only offered in recreational leagues, since not enough participants signed up this year to organize a competitive league.
“We’d always be open to looking at changes, if it were to continue to promote fair play and promote the idea of inclusion,” Lockhart said.