The Army’s sports mission is to give all soldiers a chance to participate in sports activities. A unit-level intramural program can help achieve this important goal. DA Pam 28-6 describes how to organize various unit level intramural programs.
Factors that affect the content of the sports program differ at every Army installation and unit. Initiative and ingenuity in planning are the most vital assets. They are encouraged in the conduct of every program.
A well-organized and executed intramural program yields the following:
- Team spirit, the will to win, confidence, aggressiveness, and teamwork. All are vital to combat effectiveness.
- A change from the routine PT program. The chance for all soldiers to take part in organized athletics.
The command level best suited to organize and administer a broad intramural program varies according to a unit’s situation. If the objective of maximum participation is to be achieved, organization should start at company level and then provide competition up through higher unit levels. Each command level should have its own program and support the next higher program level.
To successfully organize and conduct an intramural program, developers should consider the following factors and elements.
The unit commander should publish and endorse a directive giving authorization and guidance for a sports program. A detailed SOP should also be published.
Leaders at all levels of the intramural program should plan, organize, and supervise it. Appointments at all echelons should be made for at least one year to provide continuity. The commander must appoint a qualified person to be the director, regardless of the local situation, type, and size of the unit. The director must be a good organizer and administrator and must have time to do the job correctly. He should also have a sense of impartiality and some athletic experience.
Commanders should form an intramural sports council in units of battalion size or larger and should appoint members or require designated unit representatives. The council should meet at least once a month or as often as the situation requires. The council serves as an advisory body to the unit commander and intramural director. It gives guidance about the organization and conduct of the program.
Facilities and Equipment
Adequate facilities and equipment must be available. When facilities are limited, leaders must plan activities to ensure their maximum use. In all cases, activities must be planned to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.
Funds and Budget
Adequate funds are essential to successfully organize and operate a sports program. Therefore, beforehand, organizers must determine how much money is available to support it. To justify requests for funds they must prepare a budget in which they justify each sports activity separately. The budget must include special equipment, supplies, awards, pay for officials, and other items and services. Units can reduce many of their costs by being resourceful.
Commanders can stimulate units and soldiers to participate in competitive athletics by using an award system. One type is a point-award system where teams get points based on their win/loss records and/or final league standings. This reflects the unit’s standings in the overall intramural sports program. The recognition will help make units and individuals participate throughout the year. Trophies can then be given for overall performance and individual activities.
A successful program depends on sound plans and close coordination between the units involved. The intramural director should meet with subordinate commanders or a sports representative to determine what program of activities is compatible with the mission and training activities of each unit. Unless they resolve this issue, they may not get command support which, in turn, could result in forfeitures or lack of participation. The less-popular activities may not be supported because of a lack of interest.
Before the program is developed, leaders must study the training and availability situation at each unit level. They should include the following items in a survey to help them determine the scope of the program and to develop plans:
- General. Evaluate the commander’s attitude, philosophy, and policy about the sports program. Under stand the types of units to be served, their location, the climate, and military responsibilities.
- Troops. Determine the following:
- number and types of personnel;
- training status and general duty assignment;
- special needs, interests, and attitudes.
- Time available. Coordinate the time available for the sports program with the military mission. Determine both the on-duty and off-duty time soldiers have for taking part in sports activities.
- Equipment. Consider the equipment that will be needed for each sport.
- Facilities. Determine the number, type, and location of recreational facilities both within the unit and in those controlled by units at higher levels.
- Funds. Determine how much each unit can spend on the intramural program.
- Personnel. Assess how many people are needed to run the program. The list should include a director and assistants, sports council, officials, and team captains, as well as volunteers for such tasks as setting up a playing field.
- Coordination. Coordinate with the units’ operations sections to avoid conflict with military training schedules.
- Activities. The intramural director should plan a tentative program of activities based on the season, local situation, and needs and interests of the units. Both team and individual sports should be included. Some team sports are popular at all levels and need little promotional effort for success. Among these are volleyball, touch football, basketball, and softball. Some individual competitive sports have direct military value. They include boxing, wrestling, track and field, cross country, triathlon, biathlon, and swimming. While very popular, these sports are harder to organize than team sports. See Figures 9-1 and 9-2 for a list of sports activities.
Once the evaluations have been made, the following functions should be performed:
- Make a handbook. An intramural handbook should be published at each level of command from installation to company to serve as a standing operating procedure (SOP). This handbook should include the essential elements listed in Table 9-1 above.
- Plan the calendar. Local situations and normal obstacles may conflict with the intramural program. How ever, a way can be found to provide a scheduled program for every season of the year.
- Choose the type of competition. Intramural directors should be able to choose the type of competition best suited for the sport and local circumstances. They should also know how to draw up tournaments. Unless the competition must take place in a short time, elimination tournaments should not be used.
- The round-robin tournament has the greatest advantage because individuals and teams are never eliminated. This type of competition is adaptable to both team and individual play. It is appropriate for small numbers of entries and league play in any sport.
- Make a printed schedule. Using scheduling forms makes this job easier. The form should include game number, time, date, court or field, and home or visiting team. Space for scores and officials is also helpful. Championship games or matches should be scheduled to take place at the best facility.