By Brian Yauger
Football season may be over, but a different gridiron experience is happening now on campus. Paul Schumacher, the intramural sports coordinator at Youngstown State University, started intramural arena football in 1991.
Intramural arena football on campus is not like the professional arena football league that has existed for about the same time. Arena teams have five players on the field at a time, compared to traditional football’s 11.
Arena players are down as soon as they catch a pass whereas in traditional football, players are allowed to run after a catch.
YSU’s arena football has a different point system than traditional football.
Schumacher said teams usually don’t know the rules when they come to the Stambaugh gym, so they have to be gone over.
He said that teams get three points for a first down with two first down zones, six points for a touchdown and then a two-point conversion. On defense, a team can get two points for a quarterback sack and five points for an interception.
He said a lot of the scores in the past years have been in the hundreds, when good teams play.
“It’s a non-contact sport. Balls that hit the ceiling are live. They can still be caught, but it can’t touch the walls,” Schumacher said.
Joe Conroy, campus recreation coordinator, has been at YSU since 1986 and was around for the origins of the game.
“When we first started the game, and people heard about it, everybody was calling me to find out about the rules,” Conroy said. “Now I can post them on IM Leagues and people can just go look at our rules.”
Conroy said people love intramural arena football and it is a very fast game.
“It’s not about hitting and tackling, it’s about throwing and catching, and it’s what everyone likes to do. That’s the best part of it,” he said.
Conroy said it is easier to get participation at schools where there are more students that live on campus.
“Being more of a commuter school, the biggest thing to overcome with evening programming is getting students to come back,” Conroy said. “A lot of campus housing students participate, but not enough. We have a lot, but it would be nice to have a lot more.”
Jason Henry, a criminal justice major, said he decided to play arena football after transferring to YSU this semester.
“I was looking for some different activities to do and came upon arena football,” Henry said. “I talked to a few guys on my floor and they were all in for it as well. [It’s] something to do on a Tuesday night and get some activity in. I’d definitely recommend it to other students. Get some friends together and just have some fun.”
Having prior football experience isn’t a requirement to play for a team. Some students played other sports in high school.
“I actually did not play football in high school,” Henry said. “I ran track and cross country. I did play up until freshman year, so I always enjoyed playing when I could. Many of my teammates played football in high school, however.”
Schumacher said there are usually six to eight teams in total playing.
People can sign a team up for arena football, or one of the other 12 intramural sports offered at YSU, at imleagues.com. There is also an app available for mobile users on the Apple and Android stores.
The deadline has passed for arena football sign-ups, but there is an option to join the league as a free agent, where a team that needs a player can sign an extra player to their roster. There are leagues for soccer, basketball, volleyball and dodgeball that are currently accepting team applications.
For interested spectators, arena football games are held in the Stambaugh Stadium gym on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m.