Iowa intramurals introduces YouTube information videos


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The idea to replace captain meetings with YouTube videos in the Iowa intramural program came from an unexpected place.

Recreational Services at Florida State recently ditched its long-running captains' meetings in favor of online videos that relay all information about the many intramural sports to participating athletes. That's where Tommy Schorer, Iowa's assistant director of Recreational Services, got the idea for changing the way athletes learn rules and regulations.

"I did my graduate work at Florida State, and I was talking to a few colleagues about what they were doing in their program," he said. "They mentioned how they were using YouTube videos instead of meetings. They had a green screen and everything."

Iowa Recreational Services has made videos for basketball and indoor soccer so far. The nearly 30-minute videos feature Schorer and Recreational Services Director Mike Widen reading rules, regulations, and guidelines while a PowerPoint runs through other points in the background.

Recreational Services had use captain meetings for eight years, but Widen said the new videos offer things the captain meetings couldn't.

"We always had to set up two or three captains meetings for each sport," he said. "Some students couldn't make it to the meetings, and their teams had to be dropped from the league. We didn't like the rule, but the meetings had to be mandatory. The videos can be watched any day, any time."

Athletes who register their teams on imleagues.com, the school's intramural sports hub, must now score 85 percent or better on a 20-question quiz before being able to place their squad in a league. A player can take the quiz as many times as he or she needs to pass. Widen said he prefers that captains watch the video, but it isn't necessary or required to pass the quiz; the important thing, he said, is that someone on the team gets the information and spreads it to her or his teammates.

"The point is that they know the information," said Widen, who is in his fifth year at the helm of the intramural program. "It's totally fine if they pass the quiz without watching the video. Some athletes already know the information and the regulations."

Still, there's a drawback to the convenience; Schorer said that without having the meetings, they lose the face-to-face time some athletes might desire.

"It's great because it's just one presentation that gives everyone the same information," he said. "But they lose the ability to ask questions in person. They can still send emails to us for clarification on rules, though."

And while Widen and Schorer don't feel much need to change the videos, at least one intramural captain said the videos could be improved.

"It was a really long video," Quinn Storage intramural soccer captain Cheyne Reiter said. "It took half an hour to go through everything. Some people might find all of the information hard to remember. It would be beneficial to everyone to make it shorter and not as boring."

But Schorer said the push to move the intramural program online has made Iowa surpass most other national programs. Tweaks can be made to a few features, and he'll listen to feedback from athletes, but he said Recreation Services is happy with where the program is.

"We receive feedback and learn what works well and what doesn't work well," he said. "The changes we make are to balance the program and the participants' needs."

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