By Joel Wass
I’ve heard that beginning a column with a bold statement is often the best way to grab a reader’s attention.
That said, here goes: Ryerson should cut its men’s hockey team.
However, with that said,it’s not likely to happen.
“There is no way we are cutting the hockey team,” I was told by David Dubois, Ryerson’s head of sports and athletics. I believe him, but don’t agree. With upwards of $134,000-a-year in funding, men’s hockey is by far the most expensive sport at Ryerson.
I’ll never question the heart and dedication of Ryerson’s hockey coaches and players, but there are just too many other puzzlers surrounding the team.
For example, if it’s a Ryerson team why does it play and practice in Etobicoke? Is it fair to have a team for men and not for women? Why has the team not had a winning season since 1989?
If the upcoming athletic referendum passes on Oct. 21 – and I hope it does – Ryerson athletic fees will roughly match those of Carleton University, a school that coincidentally, cut its most expensive team just five years ago.
Following a referendum in 1999, Carleton eliminated its football team- which cost the department about as much as hockey costs our’s.
According to Drew Love, Carleton’s athletic director, the change was needed because the university had too many teams to fund and none were getting the chance to be competitive and were in fact “bleeding to death.”
The situation isn’t quite so gruesome at Ryerson, but we have never had winning teams across the board. Three years ago, when the men’s basketball team was contending for a provincial title, the men’s volleyball was 0-22. Today, men’s volleyball has bounced back (see page 9), while men’s basketball is coming off its first winless season.
Bottom line, cutting inexpensive teams like swimming and squash – both were reduced to clubs earlier this year – are merely Band-Aid solutions. With a successful referendum and hockey erased from the budget, Ryerson could spend more time supporting less-expensive, gender equitable teams, that actually perform on campus.
Athletics could hire full-time coaches for soccer and volleyball and increase teams’ nearly non-existant recruiting budgets. Dubois is committed to winning, but, as proven by Carleton, winning comes at a price.
“We now support fewer, but successful teams,” says Love. “Since [cutting football] the whole culture of the department changed.” Carleton hasn’t merely been successful, they’ve been the best:
Men’s basketball has won back-to-back national titles, men’s soccer has advanced to the nationals twice and the nordic ski teams have consistently plowed through the competition.
The list goes on. I suppose cutting one of Canada’s national sports sounds icy, but the fact is – and I am saying this because I’ve also heard it is a good idea to end a column with a bold statement – the majority of people in Toronto don’t care about hockey.
Sure, the city loves the Leafs and Team Canada, but not hockey in general – that’s why the Toronto Roadrunners ran away and the St. Michael’s Majors get minor turnouts.
If you disagree, write a letter. I’ll be glad to know people care about Ryerson sports — because they should.