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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2013

From planning to play-offs: The importance of intramural sports

By Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After an exciting football season, and with a tumultuous basketball season underway, Langley Air Force Base has embraced the urge to get down and dirty with some friendly squadron-to-squadron sports.

The 633rd Force Support Squadron set up the groundwork, allowing Airmen to compete in a multitude of sporting events.

"Every year people look forward to the intramural sports season," said Staff Sgt. Billy Hollowell, 633rd FSS sports director. "It is an important morale mission for the base."

Hollowell said the guidelines called for each squadron to choose a sports representative and meet with 633rd FSS officials to discuss rule changes, coaches, questions and bylaw issues.

"The program constantly changes," said Hollowell. "The meeting is vital to maintain order and cohesion between officials and players."

Players who volunteered to referee games during the basketball season were trained by an official referee. Hollowell hopes having a solid base of referee information will prevent confusion on the court, especially when players get competitive.

"A lot of our Airmen are very competitive," said Senior Airman Shaika Bryant, 633rd FSS sports program representative. "Bylaws are in place to keep that level of competition healthy."

Bylaws such as the requirement for players to be referees in unaffiliated games, or the prohibition of military uniforms during games, keep the Airmen on an even-playing field.

Players, coaches and referees all follow a modified rule set taken from the 633rd FSS in order to keep Airmen safe and able to continue their individual missions. Having well-trained referees and a free flow of information between players, representatives and officials maintains order and fairness during a game.

"We don't want our players intimidated on the field or the court," said Bryant. "Keeping rank out of the game allows players to give it their all and really helps in team building for the squadron."

It seems no matter the possible challenges faced by players or officials, Airmen keep coming back for more. During the football season, 21 teams were formed into two divisions. For the basketball season, 10 teams were formed in one division.

Senior Airman Antonio Grace, 633rd Security Forces Squadron head football coach, reflected on the impact of intramural sports on his squadron.

"The camaraderie aspect of the season could not be more important," said Grace. "I know a lot of the other larger squadrons also benefit from the 'face time' offered during team sports."

Grace, who works in combat arms, doesn't often see 633rd SFS personnel outside his office. He explained having a venue to create a team that breaks the boundaries of the workspace allows the whole squadron to come together, instead of being confined in individual offices or flights.

"We all want to play and kick the snot out of our competition," said Grace. "But when we line up at the end to pat each other on the back, we remember we are always one Air Force."