How many athletes with Rudy-like dreams of playing football for the Fighting Irish actually get to take the field at South Bend? Well, they can run from end zone to end zone in historic Notre Dame Stadium — even if they don’t make the varsity.
1. There’s something for everyone in Notre Dame’s RecSports program. More than 6,000 students participate in 29 sports — including scuba diving, skiing and swing dance. Check out the RecSports’ website for regularly-updated schedules, results and standings. Besides having a league (60 in all) to accommodate every skill level, the program offers dozens of instructional exercise classes and outdoor activities. For those with a competitive streak, the program annually rewards its top athletes with RecSpys — Notre Dame’s version of ESPN’s ESPYs. “Notre Dame varsity sports don’t attract as many students as they’d like, because students would rather play intramurals than watch from the [varsity] sidelines,” director of intramural sports Rich O’Leary told SI On Campus. “Rudy always said if he could do it over again, he would have gone out for broomball.”
2. The Bengal Bouts were first organized by legendary Fighting Irish football coach Knute Rockne in 1920. Since 1931, proceeds from the intramural boxing tournament have funded Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh. After watching the tourney in 1955, famed sportswriter Bud Schulberg said the Bengal Bouts “established the ideal atmosphere of sportsmanship, safety and lack of any commercial taint.” Boxers are required to participate in a hardcore six-week training and conditioning program. Today, the yearly event features more than 230 students competing in 12 weight classes.
3. Longing for your own version of Friday Night Lights? Notre Dame is the only non-service academy university in the nation with full-contact intramural football. Not only does the school give you another chance to buckle the ol’ chinstrap, it lets you play the title game on Notre Dame’s field — in the shadow of the famous Touchdown Jesus, a 132-foot-high statue of Christ on the wall of Hesburgh Library.
4. Each spring, Notre Dame hosts the Bookstore Basketball Tournament — the largest outdoor five-on-five hoops tourney in the world. The 36-year-old event features nearly 700 teams comprised of students, faculty and staff from Notre Dame, Holy Cross College and St. Mary’s College. Think it’s competitive? Past participants include former NBA stars Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantley and Heisman trophy winner Tim Brown. If that’s not enough in the hoops hungry Hoosier state, RecSports’ men’s and women’s intramural finalists play their title games in the 11,418-seat Joyce Center — the same arena used by the Fighting Irish varsity.