Athletics at McMaster is managed by the university's student affairs, under their athletics and recreation department. The university's varsity teams compete in the Ontario University Athletics conference of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The university's team sports programs include baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, rugby, soccer,swimming, volleyball, and water polo. The first major sport game played at McMaster was in 1889, when a group of alumni from Toronto Baptist College and Woodstock College played an exhibition game against one another, sparking an early intercity rivalry between McMaster students. In 1897 the university placed all physical activity and sports under the jurisdiction of a central executive committee. The varsity teams have been known as the McMaster Marauders since 1948, through a contest run by the student newspaper, The Silhouette, to name the university's men's basketball team.
The Marauders have won 11 national championships and 139 provincial champions since 1961. The men's water polo team has won the Ontario University Athletics championship 25 times, making it the Marauders' most successful team at the provincial level. The men's wrestling team has been the Marauders' most successful team at the national level, winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship four times. McMaster University has graduated 34 Olympic athletes, eight Olympic coaches, two Olympic administrators and two Olympic officials. As is mandatory for all members of Canadian Interuniversity Sport, McMaster University does not provide full-ride athletic scholarships.
The university's sports facilities are located in the northeast corner of the main campus. The university has a number of sports facilities, including theDavid Braley Athletic Centre and the Ron Joyce Stadium. Ron Joyce Stadium includes a full-sized Canadian football field and FIFA-sized soccer pitch. The stadium features permanent seating for 6,000 and temporary seating for an additional 6,000 on the other side of the field when needed. Ron Joyce Stadium is not only used by the university's football and soccer varsity teams it is also used as the training camp for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League and as the home stadium for the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse.
Intramural sport leagues and tournaments have a high level of participation at McMaster. Opportunities are offered at multiple skill levels and across a variety of sports to service a range of interest and ability. Sports offered include traditional sports like volleyball, basketball, soccer and cricket, as well as less traditional events like dodgeball, inner tube water polo, and extreme potato sack racing.