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IU Recreational Sports hosts socially distanced home run derby



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IU Recreational Sports hosted a home run derby for students Sunday to fill the void of competitive intramural sports events that are typically played in the fall.  Courtesy Photo and Anna Tiplick

Masked Recreational Sports staff patrolled the softball diamond on IU’s Recreational Sports FieldComplex armed with hand-grabbers to pick up balls. Students, many adorned in the colors of their favorite MLB team, waited in line 6-feet apart as the ping of softballs ricocheting off metal bats echoed throughout the complex. 

On Sunday, IU Recreational Sports hosted a home run derby for students to fill the void of competitive intramural sports events that typically are being played in the fall. 

Students signed up for the event on the RecSports website with time slots from noon to 4 p.m. with six batters per hour and three turns each. Participants were given a set amount of time to hit as many home runs as they could. There was also a waitlist in place in case participants were unable to attend and vacated their slot.

RecSports took multiple precautions to ensure the safety of students during the event including constant sanitization of equipment, enforcing social distancing and the balls only being touched by the pitcher while the rest of the staff used hand grabbers.

“We were looking at options of how we could return to some in-person intramural sports programming,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, assistant director for intramural sports. “Safety comes first for all of our participants and staff while we’re out here.”

The intramural sports staff have been planning events that are individualized in nature with social distancing in mind, said program director Brad Whittaker. More socially distanced competitions will be held in the coming weeks, including a soccer skills challenge Oct. 4 and a punt/pass/kick competition Oct. 18.

RecSports has introduced esports into its intramural lineup. Currently, an NBA 2K and FIFA tournament are ongoing while Madden NFL and Rocket League competitions will begin Oct. 18. The organization is prioritizing games that promote exercise and physical activity, while avoiding any games that could promote violence, said Kathy Bayless, executive director of Rec Sports.

All competitions are free to participants, and signups for events can be found on the Intramural Sports website.

“I think they’ve done a good job. I’m glad they put something together,” a participant, junior Max Pattison said. “I know there’s so many students who’d like to be in intramurals.”

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