Volume 94, Issue 83
Wednesday, February 28, 2001
Purple ready to mad-den march
It's full of passion and emotion. It has every conceivable story line. There are Cinderellas and sleeping giants, upsets and foregone conclusions. It has imagination, creativity, and if you didn't know any better, you'd believe lives were at stake.
No, I'm not referring to some new Hollywood blockbuster or a new "reality" based television show. It's more real than that. It's late February and it's the busiest and best time of year in the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union. And if you're a Mustang fan, it's even better.
We've already taken home a provincial championship (thank you Mustang women's track and field team) and a berth in a national championship (thank you men's volleyball), but now it starts getting really busy. It's March Madness, CIAU style.
Unlike our cousins to the South, our March madness entails more than just men's basketball. We've got hockey, basketball, wrestling and the aforementioned volleyball and track, with Mustangs being well represented in each and every sport.
The women's basketball team takes off for St. Catharines tomorrow for the Ontario University Athletics West Final tournament where they have a good chance of advancing to the nationals in Edmonton the following week.
The naysayers believe they can't get by either McMaster or Guelph, but if the three seniors (Holli Clarkson, Cindy Scott and Laura Verbeeten) decide they want it, and can get on the same page at the same time, then the Mustangs can and will surprise a number of teams and people.
March Madness gets even closer tonight as both the men's hockey and basketball teams get started in their respective runs for national supremacy. The basketball team tips off at 7 p.m. against the Guelph Gryphons at Alumni Hall, while the hockey team faces off against the Waterloo Warriors at 7:30 p.m. at Thompson Arena.
Both teams are at the top of the national rankings and favoured to be at their respective championships.
However, despite the pure drama and excitement of the coming weeks, March Madness CIAU style is in no way the kind of money-maker for universities like it is for its American counterpart.
Why is it that two of our top teams, men's basketball and hockey, play on the same night at conflicting times. These teams have had a difficult time filling the house without having to compete against each other for support, especially during the playoffs. Now I'm sure there are very good reasons for having to play these games at these times, but I've come to find that where there is a will, there is a way.
If the OUA, CIAU, and most importantly Western, were serious about athletics making money, or even ensuring student athletes had adequate fan support, then something could have been done. It could have even been a very special evening of Mustang athletics with two of Canada's top teams in action.
Despite that, there are a number of great Western athletes and teams that deserve our support at their most important time of year. Go to the hockey game. Go to a basketball game. Just go to a game, get purple and enjoy March Madness.
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