Volume 96, Issue 81
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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Athletics out west is best

Shooting from the Hick
Ryan Hickman
Sports Editor

I spent the other night watching a hockey game and drinking a beer – no different than any other hockey game right?

The difference was that I was in the stands drinking a beer at a University of Alberta hockey game in Edmonton.

At U of A you can go to a sporting event and it is just that – an event. You can sit in the green and yellow stands and have a couple of bowls of loud mouth soup and not think twice about it.

But beer, something you can't indulge in at Western games, is not the only thing that creates the "event" aspect to sports in Alberta – it is just one indicator of the different view of sports around the Edmonton campus.

This past Saturday night in Game 2 of the Golden Bears' series with the Calgary Dinos, there were just under 1,900 fans out to take in the game. That's a lot of people out for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday night game that competes with the Edmonton Oilers on TV at the same time. Oh, and did I mention that, down the hallway from the Clare Drake Arena, the university was also hosting the men's volleyball National Championships, where Alberta was defending their title?

At hockey, volleyball and even basketball games, there is a buzz surrounding sports in Alberta – beer stands and food concessions are everywhere along with a full spread of vendors selling an assortment of the U of A shirts and sweatshirts everybody streaming in and out of the gates is wearing. There are also full colour programs for every sport with up-to-date inserts.

The University of Alberta has made a commitment to their athletics and the school's community has hopped on for the ride. Last year, Alberta tied a record after bringing home five National Championships and they have teams in nearly every Canadian Interuniversity Sport tournament again this year.

I have always thought of Western as the premier sporting school in Canada, but that has slowly waned this past year. Coming to see the athletic frenzy that goes on at the University of Alberta has heightened my disdain for Western's prowess, or lack thereof, in sports.

Western might have been the benchmark that set the sporting standard in the '70s and '80s, but complacency has set in since then and the steps to enhance our athletics programs have not been taken, not only by intercollegiate athletics, but by the upper administration of our university.

So, next time you sit in the midst of a sparse crowd at a Western sporting event and would like to sip on a cold one, remember the disappointment should run deeper than not having a beer.

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