Somewhere to call home

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For the last two semesters, Ryerson’s cricket team has packed Kerr Hall’s Upper Gym to practice regularly. But now, the only sound that’s coming from their old athletic space is the bounce of basketballs. Their gym time is gone. They lost their place.

“It’s sad to see (the equipment) sit there in the storage room and collect dust, but we’ve given them all these avenues,” Randy Pipher, the intramural co-ordinator at Sports and Recreation. “From what I hear, there’s a huge outpouring of cricket interest among the campus and community, but when it comes to setting something organized, the interest falls off.”

While Ryerson’s campus is full of diversity, the platter of available athletic programs is not. And now with Maple Leaf Gardens slated to open in March 2011, Ryerson sports have a chance to be reborn.

But Ivan Joseph, the director of athletics, said the problem does not lie with the university.

“Who would you play? You’d need other universities to compete against and that’s the problem,” he said. “You have to look at how many athletic directors out there have an international background. The universities are generally traditional in what they offer and stick to what they know.”

A survey authorized by the Association for Canadian Studies found 28 per cent of respondents believe soccer will overtake hockey as the No. 1 sport in Canada. The results of the survey show how the Canadian sporting mindset is shifting towards an international flavor.

After failing to organize cricket at the intramural level, Sports and Recreation purchased an indoor cricket mat, wickets and bats for recreational play. Cricket players have flocked to Kerr Hall Upper Gym the past two semesters, but practices were cancelled for the winter session. Faisal Hussain was the cricket co-ordinator for Ryerson last year as they hosted the school’s first-ever tournament. But after he left the post, he watched the sport die — along with players’ interest.

“We got lazy. We don’t practice anymore. People couldn’t meet at the practice hours which used to be on Mondays and Fridays. Cricket was squeezed out by Sports and Rec and now they’ve given our time to basketball,” he said.

In September, the rugby club shut down after three years of dogged promotion across campus. It was the brainchild of former manager Ryan Stratton, now a Ryerson graduate. He was unable to round up players who simply won’t commit. “Everyone has to be enthusiastic and get to pub nights so people know that [the rugby club] actually exists,” he said.

“That’s on us. We could have gotten more numbers and have a larger commitment from the players.”

He blamed Sports and Recreation for its lack of communication with potential rugby players. But according to Pipher, the department’s job starts and ends at helping to manage a budget, designating gym space and other paperwork.

“We gave rugby as much of a chance as any other club,” said Pipher.

“Obviously, there were a lot of issues over fields and the number of people actually showing up. For rugby, no one showed up other than the six or seven people who paid [the small membership fee].”

But there is still hope. Ontario University Athletics is looking at a new tier model which would offer one-off championship tournaments for fringe sports like cricket and could help emerging clubs.

“There are several schools in the GTA that play cricket. Instead of having a league, there could be a cricket tournament,” Joseph said. “All of a sudden you have an OUA sport. I think that will change what sports are offered.”

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