In the spotlight: Ryerson student athletes and the media

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By Ryan Ward

Rams basketball guard Jayden Frederick has a routine of rewatching the Rams Live broadcast when he gets home.

“My energy will be high, regardless of if we lose or win, so I’m not going to sleep—so I usually watch the games back to see how [Rams Live does] the whole media coverage,” said Frederick. “I’ve never seen that at any other program, any other school.” The show is almost entirely student-run. 

Over the years, sports at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) have become a Mecca for athletes experiencing the media lifestyle, with campus newspapers and entire programs dedicated to covering their university careers.

Frederick, who transferred from York to Ryerson in 2017, can personally attest to the atmosphere at the MAC.

“York was not like Ryerson at all,” said Frederick. “We didn’t have as much support from the fans or the students or anything like that.”

But even though the basketball coverage at Ryerson is extensive, women’s sports, which include trans and non-binary athletes, don’t always get the recognition they deserve from the media.

Mady Timpany, a former Rams volleyball player, has witnessed the interest in volleyball dip throughout the year.  

“I think a kind of sad realization I had when I stopped playing is that the majority of people watching are just friends, family, and other athletes,” said Timpany. “Less people cared about athletics than I thought. Even for myself when I left the team I cared much, much less, which is not ideal.”

Billie Jean King, a former tennis player and 39-time Grand Slam winner, recently narrated a video for the U.S. Open and mentioned that “only four per cent of sports coverage features female athletes.”

Rams women’s hockey player Erika Crouse—who was named the 2019 U SPORTS rookie of the year—echoed the same sentiment when asked about the attention her team receives during the regular season.

“I think women’s hockey does not get the same coverage as the men’s hockey team,” said Crouse. “It would be nice to see our team showcased on a more even level. It may attract more fans as well since attendance at our home games is very low.” 

Women’s basketball head coach Carly Clarke knows first-hand what kind of impact the media has on Ryerson athletics, as her team was part of docu-series that followed their road to hosting the U SPORTS Final 8 tournament in 2019. 

The series was called #TheJourneyTo, produced by now fourth-year RTA students Justin Naro and Zack Underhill. They gave an inside look at the highs and lows of the team throughout the year. 

“It was incredible. I think our players appreciate the coverage, and I think 10 years from now, they’ll appreciate it even more how much of our season was captured and the memories they’ll be able to look back upon,” said Clarke.

“I think it’s a great experience for our student media to get on the ground, valuable experience that will hopefully coincide with their degrees and lead to future careers,” added Clarke. 

At Ryerson, the relationship between student athletes and student reporters is a unique one. 

From broadcasts to digital content, Ryerson athletics is one of the more closely followed aspects at the university, but there’s still room to improve.

“Over the course of the season, sports like volleyball can get overshadowed,” said Timpany. “It’s up to the media to draw interest to every sport equally, but that is sometimes easier said than done.”

“It would be nice to see improvement in the culture at Ryerson, and attracting more fans than just people involved with athletes and the media. I think the Ryerson media can play a huge role in growing the fan base,” added Timpany.

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