OPINION: The transition from Recreation to University Life for club sports brings forth unexpected challenges

Club football in their game against Onondaga Community College. (Photo courtesy of Dakota Cunningham)
Club football in their game against Onondaga Community College. (Photo courtesy of Dakota Cunningham)

Out of a student population of over thirty thousand, Mason has about 500 NCAA varsity athletes. While, as a community, we should be very proud of these athletes’ many achievements, there are hundreds of club athletes—outnumbering varsity athletes—who also contribute to the successes of Mason in athletic endeavors. Mason Club Football has won the Seaboard Conference Championship five times, 2000, 2001 and then defended the honor three consecutive times from 2003 to 2005. Last year alone, the Crew Club took bronze at the ACRA National Championship, set the course record on the James River in Richmond and earned a spot in the Petite Finals of the largest intercollegiate regatta in the United States—The Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. The Crew Club also represents Mason in front of an audience of 300,000—the largest audience of any sport, varsity or otherwise—at The Head of the Charles in Boston, MA. Mason Trap and Skeet Club frequently places at national championships, and Mason’s Club Hockey team advanced again to the National BRHC playoffs.

Speaking as a club athlete, some of us fear that in the coming months our successes might be compromised. Club sports have been moved from the Recreation Department to University Life, and the ability for club teams to use the Field House for practices has, at this point, been abolished. As it stands, club sports are also prohibited from working out as a team in the RAC, AFC or in Skyline. Meanwhile, varsity athletes, who comprise 40 percent of the athletes on campus, maintain access to the Field House and all of Athletics’ facilities. Although training is crucial to the success of all teams at Mason, varsity athletes are currently given priority access to all of recreation’s facilities, leaving club sports to find new ways in which they may train as a team.

Hopefully Mason will consider finding a way in which club sports can train and therefore continue their winning traditions. In allowing club sports such an opportunity, Mason can continue to make an impression across the country in both national and international competitions.

Both varsity and club athletes put a tremendous amount of work and dedication into the sports they love; both types of athletes deserve our support and an equal opportunity to excel. 

Opinions expressed in this column are solely the beliefs of the writer. 

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