By Adam Huras
More than 15 incidents of fighting, verbal abuse and unsportsmanlike play by students in first semester intramural soccer have led to the cancellation of the winter semester season.
Mounting conflicts between several teams reached a climax during the league finals on Nov. 23, when referees abruptly stopped the game towards the end of the second half after several players made threats to officials during an already tense game.
Ryerson security had been called in to diffuse disputes on several occasions during previous games, and players were frequently warned that the season was in jeopardy.
“People got suspended, teams got suspended, and it still continued so management decided that enough was enough.” said Randy Pipher, intramural coordinator for the Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC). Intramural soccer, with more than 25 registered teams, is the most popular intramural sport.
Pipher also said that the league has a history of violence, spanning back before he even arrived at Ryerson in 2000. Still, Pipher said it’s never come to this extreme.
“We have cancelled sports due to low numbers and that kind of thing, but never in terms of the students just being unacceptable,” he said. F.K. OSSR, the team leading in the finals when officials stopped the game, was awarded the championship.
Jeremy Haynes, a fourth-year international economics and finance student who has won two championships, doesn’t think everyone should suffer for problems between a few select teams.
“I was a little upset about it when I found out, because I didn’t feel we were given prior notice,” Haynes said. “This was just a few teams and there were steps that could have been taken besides just cancelling the whole league.”
Haynes believes better enforcement of the rules may solve the league’s problems. “What about stricter punishments for the teams that are responsible for fighting?”
Current intramural soccer rules state that any participant caught fighting will be automatically ejected, serve a one game suspension and face a $25 team fine upon first altercation; be removed from the sport for the remainder of the school year upon second altercation; and be suspended for life from intramural sports at Ryerson for fighting a third time.
RAC management says this enforcement is no longer good enough. “You get to the point of suspension and then they would just come back and do the exact same thing to even a greater extreme,” Pipher said.
The RAC hopes that soccer can return in September, but not before there are meetings with league players and changes to the rules.
At York University, the administration faced similar violence issues with its indoor soccer program before having to cancel the league altogether, said David Dubois, Ryerson’s director of sports and recreation.
“We are going to sit down with some of the participants and hopefully get some feedback and brainstorm,” Pipher said.
“It is a popular sport, so we do want to give the opportunity back to the students.” Meanwhile, Haynes just plans to play pickup games with his teammates. “Now we are forced to play when there is time allocated in the RAC,” said Haynes.
“It was something to look forward to every year.”