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By Kenny Yum

Ryerson is a whole lot like Canada. 

We have a healthy mix of cultural and religious groups, though nobody will agree to what extent.  We are a young nation (school) compared to others around us.  Our taxes (tuition) are high.  WE are almost entirely apathetic to the actions of those who hold power over us.  And we are envious of our larger, richer neighbor down the street (U of T).

However, one of the differences between Canada and Ryerson is the way we treat athletics.

Canada draws a sense of pride from the accomplishments of its athletes.

Those who are old enough to remember can tell you exactly where they were when Paul Henderson scored his series-clinching goal against the Soviet Union in ’72.  WE all rejoiced when Mario Lemieux got the pass from Wayne Gretzky to beat the Ruskies again in ’87.  And we all got al ump in our throat when Donovan Bailey came out from behind to beat the snot out of the world in the 100 metre sprint in Atlanta.

We even felt a guilty sense of pride when Bailey went on to trash Yankee rival Michael Johnson in the 150 metre race at SkyDome a year later.

Ryerson students, however, have no idea what that kind of pride feels like because no team from our school has ever captures our imagination with stories of triumph.

Ryerson has been a member of the Ontario University Athletics association for nearly three decades, yet we have never won a provincial team championships.

This is not to say that we have never had good teams.  Two years ago, our men’s basketball team was one red-hot Laurentian point guard away from the Canadian championship tournament.  Marie-Claire Ross, a legally blind swimmer, blew the shit out of previous world records in her vision class.  She dazzled the crowds at the University of Toronto pools for the past two years with her courageous swims.

Through it all, and true to form, Ryerson students remained blissfully ignorant of their fellow students’ victories.  Few Ryerson folk attended any of these events.

There are several theories behind this phenomenon.  First, Ryerson is a commuter school.  Without any significant student population on campus, there is not much of a connection made between sports and students; there is a whole lot more to do in Toronto than go to a university badminton game.

Second, the school has few athletic facilities, meaning the hockey, soccer and figure skating teams compete off-campus.  Ryerson students are understandably unwilling to travel an hour to see the soccer teams play at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough, or the hockey team at St. Mike’s arena at Bathurst and St. Clair.

More importantly though, the athletics department doesn’t do any marketing of mention.  They post a whole wack of posters on bulletin boards in Jorgenson, but within weeks, they are plastered over with countless other non-sports posters.

As Ryerson marks its 50th anniversary this year, we are left to wonder whether athletics is a necessary part of our school life.  Does a polytechnic school need any athletic teams?  If we don’t care, or support our teams, why not defer the $600,000 –plus athletic budget to something more academic?

This week, we’ve taken a broad look at Ryerson athletics.  We’ve compared them to more than 10 other schools in Ontario and our findings have been more than interesting.  They’ve been start raving loony.

Take a gander.  Do we need competitive athletic teams here?  With support, athletics have proven to be a healthy part of Canadian society.  What about Ryerson?

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