Fringe sports out in the cold

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

October 19, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Western’s men’s lacrosse team, unlike their women’s counterparts, is not recognized with varsity status from the university.

The team is one of several athletic teams that do not get the distinction of being a varsity team for Western. The university does not recognize teams that do not play under an established governing body, either Canadian Interuniversity Sport or Ontario University Athletics.

Consequently, the players must shell out their own funds to play their sport. Even realities as basic as lighting under TD Waterhouse Stadium, uniform costs and travel must be covered by coaches, team members and outside sources of funding.

Of course, it is important to remember Intercollegiate Athletics has a finite budget to work with. IA management must determine the marketability of the various teams to be fiscally responsible.

University athletics mean less in contemporary Canada than they did decades ago; the landscape of IA now is such that they must strategize to minimize losses. To actually make profit through any varsity team would be merely a pipe dream.

Hence, it is strange when IA spends thousands of dollars on promotions and gimmicks for the football team, when the money could perhaps be better channeled to lower-tier teams and non-varsity teams.

All facets of athletics should factor into Western’s “best student experience” so perhaps university administration should help these teams out a little more. It was quite an accomplishment for IA to procure $1.7 million in funding for varsity teams this summer, but this still left many of the non-varsity teams out in the cold.

Administration would not even have to fund all the sports clubs per se, it should easily be able to offer fundraising strategies and know-how to IA and the teams themselves. A small amount of effort from the university’s side could result in much improved revenue for the fledgling athletes and squads on campus.

For the part of Western’s student-athletes, both varsity and non-varsity, there are all sorts of fundraising ideas that would make subsistence more viable. Car washes or bake sales executed by all varsity athletes on campus " with the proceeds being circulated among lower-tier and non-varsity teams " would help those programs and be an excellent display of solidarity among athletes.

Other ideas like the sale of raffle tickets at the annual Athletic Banquet and the invitation of non-varsity teams to the banquet would also go a long way to show gratitude.

Student athletes are proud to pull on the Purple and Silver to represent their school " throwing them a few tokens of appreciation would be a worthwhile investment.

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