Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Alternative sports gain popularity on college campuses

From prep school games to pure athletic pursuits to stadium-sized productions and now to alternative sports. The face of college sports is constantly changing, and the current shift toward alternative sports and activities is no exception.

It turns out you don’t have to be on the cross country team to be in good shape or on the basketball team to be a real athlete.

“I just like physical labor, and it’s kind of meditative in a way.   It’s a good release,” said first-year Shannon Flood, who participated in trail building this past summer.   Flood ran cross country, played softball and danced before coming to Whitman, but she now appreciates the repetitive nature of working in the organic garden.

“I just like doing independent things,” said Flood, who also noted she likes the total concentration necessary for manual labor and the way it works muscles she never knew she had before.

The trend away from traditional varsity sports and toward alternative forms of recreation began in the 1980s but has really come into fruition in the ’90s and early part of the 21st century.

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, traditional sports began to decline in popularity starting in the mid-1990s.   Since then, alternative sports from yoga to snowboarding have exploded in popularity.

While institutions themselves aren’t usually at the forefront of the innovation, college students are often pioneers.   Whitman didn’t start an official snowboarding team until 2000, but many students had been boarding for years and even participated in the fledgling collegiate nationals before an actual team was started.

Now Whitman offers classes in everything from triathalon sports to modern dance to the extremely popular yoga and rock climbing.

The growth isn’t just at the college level.   First-year Jeremy Norden has seen a big increase in the popularity of ultimate Frisbee in even the past few years.

“In 2004 at high school level, there were six or seven states that had a state tournament, and my senior year, 16 or 17 states had a tournament,” said Norden.

Norden, who helped coach a junior high team for a while estimated the number of teams for that age group has tripled in the past few years in his native Seattle.

“I feel like alternative sports are a good way of getting out there,” said first-year Linnea Ruden.   Ruden played soccer and did gymnastics in high school but has shied away from traditional sports in college.

“Alternative sports can provide the same communal spirit as a team but without the same competitiveness.   It reaches gets more people involved or at least meets different needs.”

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  • M

    MCJul 23, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • L

    lewisMar 16, 2009 at 1:12 am

    There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

  • J

    john blackJan 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Generally Ido not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

  • D

    dave navarroJan 8, 2009 at 5:41 am

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