The nine stitches above Madie Pelletier’s right eye were a striking reminder of what can happen during an intramural flag football game.
Pelletier, sophomore from Hopkinsville, Ky., plays intramural sports for Alpha Gamma Delta. During a flag football game approximately one month ago, Pelletier and a teammate collided while attempting to pull the opposing quarterback’s flag.
Their heads hit above their eyes, causing deep cuts for both women. Pelletier said the officials stopped the game because of bleeding from the injuries.
After receiving ice packs from the officials, Pelletier said one of her sorority sisters drove her and her teammate to the emergency room. She received nine stitches above her eye, while her teammate received 13.
She said the injury did not keep her from competing, however, as she played in Alpha Gam’s next flag football game.
“We’re really competitive, so whenever we play, we play hard,” she said. “And we were playing a rival sorority so it was really intense anyway.”
Pelletier said this is not the first Alpha Gam intramural injury this semester. She said she has had sisters injured in both softball and flag football – some of which have required surgery.
These injuries in intramural sports are becoming part of a pattern that the director of Campus Recreation, Steve Leitch, is not pleased with.
Leitch, in his third year as Campus Recreation director, said there has been an increase in injuries this flag football season.
He said the increase is predominantly in the women’s division.
“There’s been an uncomfortable trend in the women’s games – particularly in head injuries,” he said.
Leitch said all 14 Campus Recreation supervisors are certified in CPR/AED, and there are always two supervisors present at every field.
If an injury occurs, he said his supervisors will not hesitate to call an ambulance, but there is not one present at the fields for all games as that would be too expensive.
He estimated having an ambulance on site would cost $100 an hour, and since intramural games are played five hours a night Monday through Thursday, Campus Recreation would have to pay approximately $2,000 a week for on-site emergency medical services.
The rise in head injuries is the most problematic for Leitch. Though he is certified to train in CPR/AED, neither he nor his employees have the training or authority to diagnose concussions.
He said what he and his staff hope to do is reduce injuries by thoroughly explaining intramural sport rules and penalties. He thinks if coaches and players better understand the safety rules – such as screen blocking and flag guarding – that injuries will be reduced.
Leitch does not find that the intramural league is fraught with injuries, however. He said when he first became director of Campus Recreation, he found that the rate of injury was less than one percent.
McKenzie Sirtak, senior from Mascoutah, Ill., is in her third year working for Campus Recreation and is one of the 14 supervisors for intramurals sports.
She said she has seen approximately a half dozen injuries during this flag football season, but has not noticed a particular increase in women’s injuries.
She said whenever an injury occurs, the head supervisor is contacted and an injury report is filled out.
“With each sport there are some inherent risks,” Sirtak said. “We do our best to make sure we can prevent injuries by explaining the rules every game and proactive officiating.”
Story by Kate Russell, Staff writer