Time for Pittsburgh universities to compete in supramurals

By Greg Trietley

As I begin my last semester as an undergraduate, the mental checklist of lasts has already… As I begin my last semester as an undergraduate, the mental checklist of lasts has already started.

Last game in the Pitt football student section — high-octane or regular. Last soccer game covered. Last coaching-hire press conference (hopefully).

Then there are the things I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to. I’ve neglected half the restaurants in South Oakland — and, wow, I’ve barely ever been to Bloomfield. I’ve never gone to Fuel & Fuddle’s Sunday brunch, since it only sounds like a great idea until hitting the snooze button sounds like a better one.

And of course the remorse spills into the sports world. In four years at Pitt, I’ve sat through chants for three different backup quarterbacks and bounce-housed in the Oakland Zoo, but I’ve also skimped on wrestling, tennis and gymnastics. Heck, I’ve never been to Trees Pool, although I imagine it smells like chlorine.

Four universities reside within three miles of the Cathedral of Learning, but I’ve never gone to a Duquesne, Carnegie Mellon, Carlow or Chatham game that didn’t involve Pitt. College life eats up so much time that the paths of students at different schools don’t cross very often.

I wish I had a reason to visit Carnegie Mellon’s library or scrutinize that weird pole sculpture the school has in its quad, but it’s a little too late for me to break through the Pitt bubble before I earn a diploma — although the challenge of doing so sounds like a movie plot.

We’re not cut off. We’re just not given a reason or a real chance to say, “Hello!” to the Dukes, Tartans, Celtics or Cougars. But what if there was a fun way to change that?

I introduce the supramurals.

Well, I don’t think “supra-” is the right prefix. I just like it because it sounds like “super,” as in “super intramurals.” Somebody get a Latin major over here.

Right now there are intramural sports played between teams of Pitt students, and there are club teams that travel to competitions against other schools at sometimes hefty expense. How about something in between? The area schools informally link their separate intramural programs.

I think “extramurals” might actually be the linguistically correct word I’m looking for, but other schools (UCLA, Brigham Young) mention extramurals online, and it looks like a synonym for club sports. Expenses and travel dominate. The Pittsburgh supramurals, thanks to the proximity of the schools, are more low-key.

Each school’s intramural program functions like a conference. For added appeal, name them after famous alumni. When your intramural football team, the Wolf Blitzers, rolls through Marino Conference play, congratulations! Stroll up Forbes to take on undefeated Tartan Sauce at Gesling Stadium for the supramural championship.

It’s a World Series for the average Joe. You have your scrappy underdog (Chatham), your city slickers (Duquesne) and your Backyard Brawlers, except brainier (Carnegie Mellon).

The campuses of Carnegie Mellon and Pitt essentially overlap in North Oakland, providing a natural rivalry if there ever was one. And although the Tartans don’t play Pitt in NCAA sports because, well, they’re Division III, that athletic imbalance vanishes once you’re pairing up Admiral Atwood against the Mellon Ballers — all of these intramural team names are pending copyright.

Travel is minimal, and we’re talking exclamation-point entertainment as a payoff. Students suddenly have a vested interest in the outcome of a pickup basketball game.

The schools do have plenty of ties — if you ever want to, feel free to take a class at Carnegie Mellon — but it’s currently like an awkward dinner invitation from a neighbor. You’re probably not going to take him up on the offer. The supramurals, though, are like first-date paintball, and nobody’s going to turn that down.

Honestly, this won’t happen. At least not in an organized fashion. The logistics are far too daunting. But maybe I can hope for a “Field of Dreams” type of scenario. One day, a champion intramural basketball team at Duquesne outgrows its Downtown opponents and looks for a challenge. I think we can take ’em.