The MIT Athletics Department runs a year-round soccer intramural program where MIT clubs, societies, and dorms register teams to compete against each other in different tournaments. While this arrangement is, in theory, intended to bolster community ties and act as a sanctuary from the rigors of academic life at MIT, its blatant mismanagement means the benefits of intramurals remain largely unrealized.
Soccer is by far the largest intramural sport; it spans four leagues, fifty teams and over two hundred players. Unfortunately it remains one of the most poorly organized activities in the entire IM system.
The problems are numerous. Athleague, the online system used to organize fixtures, results, and rosters, contains several duplicate teams that have been rolled over the years. In the Soccer B league, there are teams that appear twice within the same division, meaning a set of players can be scheduled to play a game against themselves.
Moreover, there are some teams that only have three players registered in their roster. How the Soccer Manager allowed these teams to be included in the fixture list, when the rules state that a team with less than eight players must forfeit a game, does not conform to any form of common sense.
There is a clear lack of communication between the Soccer Manager and team captains, who complain that Athleague is not regularly updated to reflect schedule changes. There have been over five instances this season where entire teams have failed to show up due to confusion regarding the time and location of the game.
In the rare occasion that games actually take place, it is more often than not that there is no referee in attendance to officiate. Not only does this mean there is no record of the match, but it promotes conflict between teams. It has become a habit for some teams to show up with players not on their roster, giving them an unfair advantage that goes completely unpunished.
But criticizing the situation without offering viable solutions is no way to achieve progress on this matter. Most crucially, the IM Soccer Manager must shore up Athleague by merging duplicate teams, removing rosters with less than the minimum number of players, and regularly updating the schedule with correct the time and location of each game.
Next, a general assembly of one representative from each team must be summoned immediately for reps to confirm membership of their teams. This way, teams that have created Athleague accounts without the intention to compete can be expelled from the league.
Team captains have an equal responsibility in confirming attendance to one another the night before a game, and ensuring that everyone on the field is in fact a registered player. While the expectation is that every game has a referee, there is no reason that mature adults cannot to govern the simple sport themselves.
The Intramural Governing Body, which is comprised of a Sports Coordinator, an IM Council, an Executive Committee, and various Sports Managers, is largely made up of MIT students who volunteer their time to organize sports events for everyone to enjoy. It should be emphasized that team members must respect and appreciate the efforts of all organizers involved.
There is no question that intramural soccer is a popular sport that has the potential to benefit members of the MIT community. However, until the IM Governing Body takes serious steps to overcome the challenges at hand, it seems that we are destined to suffer from confusion, disorganization, and league mismanagement for a long time to come.