MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Mankind has thrived on competition since the beginning of time. In sports, man can force his competitive will upon an opponent to see who will win in the test of physicality, mentality and drive.
The Marine Corps has used intramural sports for years to allow Marines and sailors to unleash that fighting spirit in positive ways through friendly competition while allowing them to relieve stress and build camaraderie.
"Intramural sports are a part of life in the Marine Corps," said Skip Best, Marine Corps Community Services athletics director. "It helps increase morale and Marine Corps espirit de corps."
Sports benefit Marines and sailors primarily through physical training and staying healthy while having fun. It also provides an outlet for unleashing pent-up stress and aggression.
"It builds morale for the units," said Randy Husted, MCCS sports coordinator. "They get to play as a unit and build camaraderie. They get to take time off of work and do something besides going out and fighting a war. It gets their minds off what’s going on in the outside world. They stay healthy and keep fit, and this goes hand-in-hand with the mission."
People play sports for a variety of reason, but not all of them are limited to the physical aspect. Sports participants can also pick up team skills and leadership traits.
"It’s a leadership opportunity," said 1st Lt. Roy E. Cheeks, 1st Tank Battalion intramural football team coach. "A lance corporal can teach a gunnery sergeant. On the playing field, it’s wide open. There’s no rank on the field. It’s a bonding experience."
There are some who’ve never picked up a ball before, others who dabbled in some sport in their backyard as a child and some who’ve spent their whole lives immersed in the world of sports. For those who know the sport, it’s their opportunity to take the reigns of leadership and teach those who do not.
Without intramural sports, Marines may look for other avenues to fulfill their passion for challenge. Some of these paths could prove dangerous for the Marine as well as the Corps.
"We need intramural sports. It’s a stress reliever," said Staff Sgt. Brian Davis, Headquarters Battalion, Installation Personnel Administration Center. "It’s something to do to take up time and keep Marines out of trouble."
While the Marine Corps will survive without it, those who need a healthy outlet for stress and aggression may suffer for its loss.
"The Marine Corps could survive without intramural sports, but it gives the Marines something to do in their off time other than going out and getting drunk," said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Payer, 1st Tanks.
In Davis’ 14 years of Corps life, he’s been involved in several sports. He has coached youth flag football and the defensive line for the Headquarters Battalion intramural football team. It’s made him a "better team player" and shown him how to look at the "whole team concept."
Having a team concept, a commitment to the team, is paramount in being a Marine as well as its Core values.
Intramural sports will continue to exist in the Marine Corps, for the enjoyment of the Marines and sailors and in molding our future leaders.