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Opinion: Look past the slogans and smiles

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By Devin Jones 

There’s this theme that I’ve noticed throughout my year as sports editor. It’s very subtle and often in the midst of covering a basketball game, the enthusiasm of the Ram Pack will push it aside completely.

We’ve all seen the slogans: “We are all Rams,” or more simply put: “Ramily.” This idea of an equal community across all sports. And yes, for those successful teams that bring in the Toronto Star articles and the limited television time Canadian university sports are allocated —  we are all Rams that fit into a neat marketable package with banners and all the trimmings.

But every time I leave the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), the question comes up again: “What about everyone else?”

I get it, the athletics department at any university is logically centered around promoting its best talent, because of course as basic economics go, these departments need to turn a profit in order to justify their existence, to pay those the department employs.

But what confuses me and what I’ve been hearing all season from athletes is this idea that after having a great season — the women’s volleyball team is only now getting the recognition that should have been there all along, despite the “We are all Rams” mentality.

And again, even from an incentive standpoint, it makes sense to reward those teams that have seen sucess stemming from their hard work.

But this incentivized way that the Ryerson athletics department has decided to run things is often confusing, summed up by the divided chart attached to the back of the student-athlete handbook. This chart divides up teams based on past performance, which is theoretically tied to media coverage. This, coupled with a better record, leads to a jump in division and therefore more recognition and services from athletics.

On paper this idea makes sense, but when I hear administration say things like they’re allowing their lowest division in terms of athletics funding, recognition and services -— competitive clubs — to wear the Ryerson logos and jerseys — as if this is the better option to an alternative that doesn’t exist —  rides against the Ramily mentality we’ve all seen.

Or the baseball team and their competitive club status for example. After two years of probation and three seasons of growth and continuous success — capping this season off with a playoff appearance, the team still needs two seasons of success to become eligible for OUA sport status. Put this against other teams within athletics who until a few years ago weren’t posting winning records but were given immediate OUA sport or CIS status, due to entrenched ideas about the importance of certain sports.

The other thing I’ve struggled to understand that has come up recently is the switch from Adidas to Nike. It’s not the switch in vendor that bugs me but the fact that the new jerseys that athletics are ordering only apply to the seven CIS teams. And while administration notes that teams within other divisions have the option of using the new jerseys, funding this option comes down to the individual teams and their ability to fundraise.

It’s this weird situation of opposites, a collective community as long as you win, that I’ve been thinking about all season.

And after a long year of game recaps and player profiles I still leave the MAC late on a Friday night wondering, “What about everyone else?” And while I don’t have answers on how to integrate the curling or cross country teams, let alone how to run the athletics department, the theme seems to be at odds with the sentiment — we are all Rams when it suits the administration. It’s important to understand we aren’t all equal, which is fine. But it’s not okay is to pretend like we’re all playing on the same field.

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, published in print on April 13, the Ram Pack was incorrectly identified as the Rams Pack. The Eyeopener regrets this error.

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