McGill kicks off intramural lawn games tournament

It’s time for McGill sports fans to prepare for a new season. It’s not U SPORTS, it’s not the RSEQ, it’s McGill’s Intramural Lawn Games.

While U SPORTS and the RSEQ have cancelled their fall championships and seasons respectively due to COVID-19, McGill Athletics has organized new intramural events to offer students safe recreational activities.

“Originally, we wanted to run a one-day tournament in April, but, given the pandemic, that wasn’t possible,” Ryne Bondy, assistant manager of Intramural Sports, said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Instead, we realized that lawn games would be a great alternative for some of our programming this semester, as many of these games have natural social distancing built into them.”

McGill’s intramural leagues have four levels of competition: PLAY-COMP Tiers 1-3 and PLAY-FUN, which does not hold playoffs. Games are played weekly, with the season running from Sept. 21 to Oct. 30. Sixteen teams will compete for the championship mugs in the two lower PLAY-COMP levels, with 10 teams in Tier 2 and six in Tier 3. All teams can have a maximum of six players.

The athletes will compete in cornhole, Kan Jam, Mölkky, and roundnet (Spikeball), with teams playing a different game every week.

Cornhole, a classic outdoor game across Canada and the U.S., tests a player’s precision. Players toss beanbags onto a board with a hole in the center and are awarded three points if they successfully get the beanbag into the hole. Landing the beanbag on the board counts for one point. Play continues with bated breath until one team reaches 21 points.

Kan Jam incorporates Frisbee-throwing skills with an element of risk. Each team has a thrower and a deflector; the thrower tosses their Frisbee, and the deflector knocks it out of the air and into the Kan. A redirected bounce off of the Kan is worth one point, a direct hit off of the Kan is worth two points, and a successful deflection into the Kan is worth three points. Twenty-one is, once again, the magic number, unless a particularly skilled player throws their Frisbee into the slot in the front of the Kan, resulting in a coveted, yet elusive instant win. 

Roundnet, also called Spikeball, is a volleyball-style game played around a circular net. Much like volleyball, each team has three touches, analogous to a bump, set, and spike. Players can rotate around the net to keep the ball in play, with the rally ending when a team cannot return the ball. Twenty-one points is the goal.

Mölkky, a Finnish throwing game, combines skill and strategy. Players throw a wooden pin into a bowling-like array of 12 numbered pins, or skittles. If one pin is knocked over, the player scores the number of points labeled on the pin. If multiple skittles are knocked over, they score the total amount of points labeled on the pins knocked over. However, unlike the other games, players must be exact with their scoring: Play ends when one team reaches exactly 50 points. If they go over 50 points, their score is reset to 25 and they must climb the Mölkky mountain again.

McGill Athletics is striving to keep players safe as they compete, with numerous protocols in place. The games themselves are played in six separate areas of the 19,800-square-foot Forbes Field. Each team is allowed two players per night, with no players on the bench, substitutions, or spectators. Staff members in full PPE sanitize all equipment between matches, and players must wear masks for every game except Roundnet. Everyone must also wear a mask in between matches. Finally, contact tracing is facilitated through rigorous tracking of which team members are in attendance each night.

With the precautions in place and players ready, let the games begin!

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