Straus Cup Casualities

Intramurals Can Eat Away at Your Health

How many fat people have you seen at Harvard? How many full blown glad bags?

Not many

How many broken people have you seen around the House lately? No, not mentally broken people, not people who adopt English accents but recalls broken ones. The poor bastards hobbling on crutches and bald armpits because they twisted their ankle or broke their knee or something like that.

Quite a few? If obesity and injuries are two common afflictions of the body human, and only one can be found at Harvard, there's a fairly simple explanation. Everybody comes here well-rounded, in the strictly figurative sense. Not only are they smart but they're athletic as well, playing several varsity sports in high school, and captaining one of them.

Once they settle in they feel no inch nation to drop their cultural baggage (it got them this far didn't it) so they maintain previously cultivated routines mornings runs afternoon swims evening basketball. Even mailbox heads who spend all night at the computer keyboard keep on twitching enough to pour-out a couple buckets of sweat every day.


But in one of those strange twists of fortune, all the attention liberal artists place on recreational physical fitness can be counter productive It's not much fun to go out for a run and come back hopping on one foot, or to lift weights with such elan that you require that special abdominal surgery.

Indisputably, injuries haven't blossomed into a cultural phenomenon in the College in general. There's a highly persuasive body of thinking that claims any rise in injuries parallels a similar rise in gross athletic activity. But there is a particular musty corner where ailments breed like morning glory. It's in the rambling yet-elusive, unwieldy net work of intramural sports.

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Who understands intramural sports? Maybe no one What are they? No one can be sure Call them "House athletics" asnd, oh yeah, now you've got the picture. Hyers on the breakfast table, sign-up posters on the bulletin board. House athletics: slightly amateurish, organized by House secretaries who with a few exceptions, aren't too organized Sports that constantly change, games that take place all the time, all hours of the day, every day of the week. Sweat clad athletes who journey across the river and back to play, forked constants amid the change.

In such a rambling circulatory system, clots are bound to coagulate. When they do you call them injuries.

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In early February Jeff Ulin, a Currier House junior, played a 10:30 p.m. Sunday House hockey game against Kirkland. He came out of it with a double spiral fracture and shattering of the tibia as well as a fracture of the fibula of the right leg, courtesy of a late-game check at an exceedingly awkward angle.

Ulin's is an extreme example of intramural ailments, but there are more Rajeev Bhatla, a South House senior, struggled for a loose ball and snapped his tibia in an early October House soccer game against Quincy. Dan Henshaw of Lowell tore knee ligaments when he was blind-sided away from the ball in a House football game. Kirkland House's Steve Larkin separated his shoulder in House basketball when, running down court at full tilt, someone stuck out a clumsy foot and upended him.

The hardy, of course, are the first to point out that injuries are only, well, the breaks of the game. Gusto bring, glory; if you don't have grit, get out. And no studies such have shown that House athletic injuries outstrip those in varsity athletics. Many of the injuries that do occur specifically the wide-spread concussions of House football, have cropped up before on other fields of battle specifically in high school football (In a sense intramurals are more fertilizer to hurt than they are spawning ground).

But a landscape of sundry handicapped limbs can't be appropriate for activities devoted to fun, no matter how the injuries grow Intramurals provide non-varsity athletes the chance to play and they go a long way toward making the concept appealing. Many games and little practice Condense the best and throw out the worst Undoubtedly injuries are one of the more non emulative characteristics of the role model varsity program.

So why does it keep raising its ugly face'.

Let us count the ways. The number one cause has to be physical conditioning or more precisly, the lack thereof. That idea of the mind being willing, but the body claiming otherwise didn't gain acclaim for nothing.

Inexperience tanks as another prime culprit. Many sportsmen save their first taste of a particular sport for the House team, and frankly, their lack of fundamentals is often a hazard to both more adept players and to themselves.

Finally, the out and out cases of the overzealous athlete, bucking medical recommendation to play for the House is anything but healthy. Initial physicals, even for those playing contact sports like hockey and football, process too many people to be effective at rooting out problems. The real trouble increases when people ignore the problems that have been spotted.

No matter how starved for competitively physical outlets though, few people care to justify hobbling about on crutches for 12 weeks because their team was in contention for the championship, or even because their House was in contention for the Strauss Cup. It might be more fun to eat five pizzas.