Competitive Fitness Activities

Physical fitness is one of the foundations of combat readiness, and maintaining it must be an integral part of every soldierís life. This chapter discusses competitive fitness activities and athletic events that commanders can use to add variety to a unitís physical fitness program. There is also a section on developing a unit intramural program. Athletic and competitive fitness activities are sports events which should only be used to supplement the unitís PT program. They should never replace physical training and conditioning sessions but, rather, should exist to give soldiers a chance for healthy competition. Only through consistent, systematic physical conditioning can the fitness components be developed and maintained.
Crucial to the success of any program is the presence and enthusiasm of the leaders who direct and participate in it. The creativity of the physical training planners also plays a large role. Competitive fitness and athletic activities must be challenging. They must be presented in the spirit of fair play and good competition.
It is generally accepted that competitive sports have a tremendous positive influence on the physical and emotional development of the participants. Sports competition can enhance a soldierís combat readiness by promoting the development of coordination, agility, balance, and speed. Competitive
fitness activities also help develop assets that are vital to combat effectiveness. These include team spirit, the will to win, confidence, toughness, aggressiveness, and teamwork.

The Armyís sports mission is to give all soldiers a chance to participate in sports activities. A unit-level intramural program can help achieve this important goal. DA Pam 28-6 describes how to organize various unit level intramural programs.
Factors that affect the content of the sports program differ at every Army installation and unit. Initiative and ingenuity in planning are the most vital assets. They are encouraged in the conduct of every program.

A well-organized and executed intramural program yields the following:
ē Team spirit, the will to win, confidence, aggressiveness, and teamwork. All are vital to combat effectiveness.
ē A change from the routine PT program.
ē The chance for all soldiers to take part in organized athletics.

The command level best suited to organize and administer a broad intramural program varies according to a unitís situation. If the objective of maximum participation is to be achieved, organization should start at company level and then provide competition up through higher unit levels. Each command level should have its own program and support the next higher program level.
To successfully organize and conduct an intramural program, developers should consider the following factors and elements.

The unit commander should publish and endorse a directive giving authorization and guidance for a sports program. A detailed SOP should also be published.

Leaders at all levels of the intramural program should plan, organize, and supervise it. Appointments at all echelons should be made for at least
one year to provide continuity. The commander must appoint a qualified person to be the director, regardless of the local situation, type, and size of the unit. The director must be a good organizer and administrator and must have time to do the job correctly. He should also have a sense of impartiality and some athletic experience.
Commanders should form an intramural sports council in units of battalion size or larger and should appoint members or require designated unit representatives. The council should meet at least once a month or as often as the situation requires. The council serves as an advisory body to the unit
commander and intramural director. It gives guidance about the organization and conduct of the program.

Facilities and Equipment
Adequate facilities and equipment must be available. When facilities are limited, leaders must plan activities to ensure their maximum use. In all cases, activities must be planned to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.

Funds and Budget
Adequate funds are essential to successfully organize and operate a sports program. Therefore, beforehand, organizers must determine how much money is available to support it. To justify requests for funds they must prepare a budget in which they justify each sports activity separately. The budget must include special equipment, supplies, awards, pay for officials, and other items and services. Units can reduce many of their costs by being resourceful.

Commanders can stimulate units and soldiers to participate in competitive athletics by using an award system. One type is a point-award system where teams get points based on their win/loss records and/or final league standings. This reflects the unitís standings in the overall intramural sports program. The recognition will help make units and individuals participate throughout the year. Trophies can then be given for overall performance and individual activities.