A brief look at non-varsity athletics

In the academic world,

there are few rivals more bitter than the one that exists between athletes and non-athletic students. There exists a great debate of whether or not universities should fund athletics as heavily as they do, or if their primary focus should be on academia. Back in 2009 when rumorus of joining the NCAA first began, Dr. Nello Angerilli, Vice President of Students International, stated that “We need to think about what’s best for our student-athletes [. . . they’re] an important component of any university.” This attitude illustrates the value placed on university athletics. Joining the NCAA is far more expensive than the CIS division we were a part of before. Student artists also get drawn into the debate, arguing that the art world is often ignored and neglected, sometimes even cut, in favor of athletics.

A 2014 Rasmussen poll confirmed the results of similar polls done in 2012 and 2013, stating that two-thirds of Americans “think college sports run the show and have too much influence over educational institutions.” While Canada is not as serious as the USA is about sports, SFU’s NCAA status suggest that our school is gradually moving in that direction.

In between the athletes and non-athletic students, there are the SFU students who play sports, but on non-varsity teams, teams who don’t have a fraction of the funding or attention of our varsity athletics. It is not uncommon for varsity athletes to receive full-ride scholarships, whereas non-varsity players are expected to be both students and athletes with very little additional support from the university. The Peak interviewed three members of three different non-varsity teams on campus that are, according to them, underfunded by SFU. I talked to SFU students, and tried to uncover what it means to be a non-varsity athlete.

Interview with SFU quidditch captain, Talor Mykle-Winkler

 

The Peak: Where does your team practice, compete, etc.?

Talor Mykle-Winkler: We practice on Terry Fox Field here at SFU, and we go all over the place for competitions.

P: How many players are on your team?

TMW: Um, I think we have about 26 registered, but obviously numbers vary from practice to practice and who can come out to games and everything.

P: How is your team doing so far this season?

TMW: We came in third at a tournament a few weekends ago, and that was the first trophy we’ve won, so that was really exciting. We just keep getting better. We have Regionals coming up [. . .] and we’re hoping to come out with a good standing in that.

P: Approximately how much money does your team receive from SFU?

TMW: From SFU? I’m not sure of the figure. . . Most of our money comes from fundraising or the $10 team fee, which players have to pay to get into the club.

P: Would you say your team’s financial status impacts your ability to practice, travel, and compete?

TMW: Definitely not practice, because we have the equipment and any changes to the equipment is just a minor fix, like getting a new screw or some tape. The Rec department doesn’t charge us for field usage, so that saves a lot compared to what community teams have to do with booking fields and everything, so we’re really fortunate to have that accessible. And for maintenance, if we needed to use tools or anything, Rec does have that for us to use.

P: What about competitions? 

TMW: It depends on which competition we’re going to. . . that [money] does come out of players’ pockets. For some players, that does affect them on whether they can come to the tournament [. . .]. With the fundraising though, we try to reimburse that or get cheaper rates for the players.

snitch copyP: How successful would you say the fundraising is?

TMW: Not that successful. We do get some discounted prices for some expenses on things like t-shirts for fundraising, though.

P: If your team had more money from the school, what would or should it go towards?

TMW: It would definitely go towards the travelling.

P: Many would argue that schools should focus their funds on academics, and others often complain that schools overfund athletics and underfund art programs. Do you have an opinion on this issue?

TMW: I actually got into a huge debate with my friend about this. I think it’s really important to have a diverse dispersion of funds for everything, because if everything is put into academics, then there’s no fun stuff for anyone. But if everything is put into sports, that leaves some kids out. So it’s really important that everyone gets the funding they need to make the students happier.

P: What is the benefit of increasing funding towards school athletics?

TMW: I think it could really help build a sense of community and kids would be more willing to participate because most college kids don’t have access to unlimited funds, so if they’re able to save as much money as they can, they can enjoy their time here and go out and have fun and meet new people.

P: Do you think SFU should fund all sports teams equally?

TMW: I’m not sure all teams need the same amount of funding. Some do need it more than others. Like the football team, they hire coaches from outside of the team, where our club is a student-run team so we’re not really paying our coach. It’s more a volunteer position. But in regards to travel, that’s always important. We don’t go quite as far of a distance as they do, but if we had access to, we could go down to other teams and to California and get more competition.

Interview with SFU’s women’s field hockey team president, Maddy Galts

 

P: Where does your team practice, compete, etc.?

Maddy Galts: We practice twice a week off campus at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex and we play at various fields throughout Vancouver.

P: How often do you compete?

MG: We usually play one game every Saturday, but sometimes we play on both Saturday and Sunday in a given weekend due to makeup games.

P: How many players are on your team? 

MG: 15.

P: Approximately how much money does your team receive from SFU?

MG: Anywhere between $500–$1,000 [annually].

P: How does this impact your team’s ability to practice / travel / coordinate / etcetera?field hockey copy copy

MG: This money, although we greatly appreciate it, really doesn’t cover any of our expenses. We pay the league $1,725 in three instalments throughout the season for field time and umpire costs. We also pay our coaches a salary that ranges from $1,500–3,000, depending on our finances for the year.

P: Does your team get money from other sources? 

MG: We get most of our money from fundraising, which is challenging because we are all university students and our time is valuable. It’s difficult to organize events that everyone can attend, and that people will actually want to go to. Our fundraising goal for this year was $3,000. We are also looking into potential sponsorship opportunities and have reached out to a few businesses. Some of our money also comes from player fees. This season the first semester we charged our girls $85, and second semester was $35.

P: How is your team doing so far this season?

MG: Unfortunately our team is not doing too well this season. We’ve had a very hard time securing a coach. Without a coach, myself and few other executive members have had to step up and act as a coach and [disciplinarian] when necessary. As a result, practices aren’t as organized and productive as they should be, and we get no objective perspective and direction during games. This season is the first time since I’ve been on the team that we aren’t making playoffs.

P:  If your team had more money, what would and should it go towards?

MG: If our team had more money, it would go towards covering our field and umpire costs first and foremost. It would also go toward new equipment, as we had to fundraise to buy 15 new balls this year. We would also use this money to pay an experienced coach who would be with us for a number of seasons. Leftover money would go toward tournaments that we haven’t been able to enter due to financial deficiencies. All of these are definitely essential components to a successful team. We desperately need a coach, we need to be able to cover our operating expenses, and we need equipment to be able to even play.

P: Many would argue that schools should focus their funds on academics, and others often complain that schools overfund athletics and under-fund art programs. Do you have an opinion on this issue?

MG: I agree that academics are very important, and are the main reason that people go to university. However, athletics contribute to the overall university experience. Speaking from my own experience, I’ve made many friends and great memories on this team than almost any other university related experience. I just think it’s ridiculous how stressed out the execs and I get over the financial issues of the club. A little more money would go a long way and would definitely contribute to our success as a team.

P: What is the benefit of increasing funding towards school athletics?

MG: I think you would see a lot more successful SFU teams with an increase in funding.

P: Do you think SFU should fund all sports teams equally?

MG:  I don’t think they should be funded equally. Different teams have different expenses and operating costs, and I think funding should reflect that.

P: What would you say to SFU administration about funding SFU athletic teams?

MG: We cannot represent the school to our full potential with the amount of funding that we currently receive. We need the school to take us seriously and invest in us as a team. Help us make SFU proud.

Interview with SFU dance team member, Matthew King-Roskamp

 

P: Where does your team practice?

MATTHEW KING-ROSKAMP: Our team practices approximately six hours a week in the gym, and performs at various SFU events, such as basketball games, charity events, etc. We have also performed in outside events such as the Surrey Dance Festival.

P: How many players are on your team?

MKR: There are 15-ish members of the team.

P: Approximately how much money does your team receive from SFU?

MKR: Our team receives approximately $1,500 per academic year. We use this to offset the cost of uniforms. We fundraise through promotion of outside events, raffles, selling makeup products, etc.

P: How is your team doing so far this season?

MKR:  We are doing quite well. But, our performance is subjectively judged — we don’t have a win-lose record — so opinions may change throughout the team.

dancer copy copyP: If your team had more money, what would and should it go towards?

MKR: If our team had more money, hypothetical things it could go towards would include dance classes run by outside sources, travel and competition entry expenses, and paying for uniforms. I think these would not alter the Dance Team’s overall success, but would greatly increase the ease at which those results were reached. Our time and funds could be more focused towards our success rather than operating costs.

P: Many would argue that schools should focus their funds on academics, and others often complain that schools overfund athletics and under-fund art programs. Do you have an opinion on this issue?

MKR: I would wholeheartedly agree that Universities are overfunding athletics programs and underfunding academic and artistic performance. I am of the opinion that a university exists as an academic institution, and thus should focus the majority of its funds towards academics. Furthermore, I feel that student athletes receive a disproportionate amount of financial and other aids. For example, it is possible for a student athlete to receive full reimbursement for living and tuition expenses [the maximum amount for undergraduate national students for the 2014-15 year was $8,141, international students $13,913] compared to some prestigious academic scholarships of approximately $3,000 per semester. Ignoring individuals, team based funding can also vary widely in comparison to student union organizations.

P: What is the benefit of increasing funding towards school athletics?

MKR: Increasing funding towards student athletics would be beneficial in terms of school spirit and involvement. While SFU is in the NCAA, the comparison of school spirit and student involvement in sports is quite comical.

P: Do you think SFU should fund all sports teams equally?

MKR: Simply put, different sports team are naturally going to have widely varying operating costs. The cost of coaching, managing, and traveling for the football team of more than 40 men will always be greater than the cost of running the basketball team. The swimming team will naturally have more facilities upkeep costs than the soccer team, etc. In contrast, funding all teams equally can hypothetically greatly increase the success of underfunded teams and programs.

1 COMMENT

  1. Props to author for putting all this info together, but come on editors, it’s almost like the whole interview transcripts were copy and pasted – it’s an interesting topic but there’s a ridiculous amount of content to go through here and it all just gets flooded, like theres more to drafting a piece than spell/grammar check… plus, what’s with the sub-headers spacing?? -_-