Intramural Basketball: A Big Deal

Bartosz Janczuk, Sports Writer

It’s not very often that an intramural sport overtakes its high school counterpart in popularity, but this seems to be the case for basketball here in Eagan. That’s not to say that Eagan High School’s varsity basketball is in need of fans – quite the contrary – but the intramural basketball league has burst onto the scene in recent years, and it appears to be just as, if not even more, popular today than high school basketball.

The Eagan Intramural Basketball Association, otherwise known as EIBA for short, has been around since the 90s. Current director Nick Johnson says it was a result of both students’ desire and the growing expansion of such intramural leagues in high schools across the state. Over time, intramural basketball has grown in popularity, and it’s gotten to the point now where it’d be unusual not to have a league. “Today,” says Johnson, “it’s so popular that just about every high school is doing it.” In fact, EIBA reached its 18-team limit this year within just one week of sign-ups, and it was arguably the league’s most popular season yet. But what, exactly, makes intramural basketball such a big draw?

Current players attribute EIBA’s popularity to several things. Ryan Mott, a senior who played for the top division’s champion squad, says, “It’s nice that, around the school, there are a lot of people who go to games and support teams. It’s also great how you know all the players and teams you face off against each night.” Because of this familiarity between competitors, the league ends up having an atmosphere that is largely competitive, with a sprinkling of casualness. Players always try to win every game they can, but they also make sure to have fun during the process. “For us,” says junior Zach Sorensen, “it depends on how the team is feeling. We have fun, but – unless we have a huge lead – we’re usually playing 110%.”

Perhaps even more importantly, though, the league contains a pivotal aspect of enjoying yourself and each game. “For me, what makes intramural so appealing is just the amount of fun you have,” says junior Rayyaan Usmani. “You can be a golf or cricket player, not necessarily someone who plays basketball, and still have fun playing games.” As a director, Johnson tries to emphasize this characteristic. “At the end of the day, we just want people to be happy and have fun,” he explains. “If they’re doing that, and the games are competitive, then that’s all we care about.”

This year, the playoffs were played over a two-day span on March 4 and 5, with three teams being crowned champions in each of the league’s three divisions. The season definitely ended on a positive note, and Johnson is already looking forward to matching its success next year. While there may be a few more tweaks that get made before next season’s opening tip-off, such as – gym space permitting – the addition of an “All-Star Game” or more teams, the league is generally considered to be set up quite well already. This solid foundation, coupled with its seemingly-constant growth in popularity, can only bode well for EIBA moving forward.