ATHLETES FOR SALE TO HIGH BIDDER

In Editorial /

By Robyn Doolittle

Editor in Chief

The $500G advertising and recruitment deal between Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the Armed Forces should never have been pitched in the first place.

As student groups across the country enter a fifth year of vehemently protesting the war in Afghanistan, Canadian Interuniversity Sport has decided to sell its athletes to the Armed Forces for the bargain price of $500,000. By the end of the month, the Canadian military will have a major advertising and recruitment presence at every CIS national event. To date, the armed forces had no clear way to specifically target the roughly 10,000 university athletes who compete countrywide — a major military problem considering these educated and athletic individuals are exactly the type the army desperately needs to fill vacant officer positions.

Now, as CIS officials dream of shinier court floors, better manicured football fields and the latest in sound system technology, they’ve offered up the one commodity that they can to earn some extra cash. Josh Wingrove’s story on page 14 delves into the inner workings of the deal, as well as the numerous academics who have expressed outrage at the proposition, which should come as no surprise.

The armed forces already have recruitment ads at universities across the country — including Ryerson — which has sparked anger among students and campus groups.

University students around the world have traditionally been one of the loudest voices against war. And especially given the political climate of the day, it seems highly inappropriate that the Canadian military should be given such a high profile at varsity events.

On one side, athletes will most likely be thrilled at the added funding and imminent improved facilities, but on the other, there is a not-so-fine line anyone in the Canadian education system needs to stay clear of when looking for cash to make those improvements.

When Pepsi and Coke moved in on elementary schools in the 1990s, obvious ethical issues arose. The education system may be strapped for cash, there may not be enough books to go around, but is it ok for large soft drink companies to bail them out?

These students may be older, but the debate is just as valid.

If a corporation that produces steroids wants to pump money into varsity athletics, is that ok? That seems like an obvious no, but what if a sperm clinic also wants to target young, intelligent, athletic men for donors? To enter an even more sophisticated debate, what if it’s a clothing company whose uniforms are made in sweatshops?

It’s difficult to place much blame on the Canadian Armed Forces. They have their job to do and varsity athletes are clearly ideal recruits.

And if it’s just money the CIS is after, perhaps they can convince Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie to stage the next Simple Life on a varsity team. But maybe that’d be too far for them.

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