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The Year in Sports: The return of sport was a long time coming

By Gavin Axelrod

To view the full issue, visit our microsite here

I’m writing this at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC). Athletes are starting to head home, the custodial staff are making their rounds and the bright lights that once shone upon the moderately-filled stands have been turned off. The clicking of my keyboard and the air vent humming are the only sounds that filled the silence in the MAC balcony.

Every night I’ve spent at the MAC over the last three months has ended the same—edit stories; size photos; complain about the lack of air conditioning; write social media captions; file our work; pack up and head home. But before I leave and when I’m certain I’m one of the last people left in the building, I always get up from the blue couch and perch myself over the railing.

There’s something so pure about leaning over that railing in the dark, overlooking the gleaming hardwood. Nothing beats being alone by yourself in an empty gym.

Whenever I’m up in the darkness of the MAC balcony, I feel like a kid again, fantasizing about getting on the court in front of a packed sea of spectators. It gives me a warm feeling inside my stomach. Well, that could also just be because the MAC is the hottest building on campus and I’m sweating through my shirt.

But every time I start making my exit from the building and I walk down the stairs, I can’t help but think to myself: ‘Damn, it’s good to be back.’

The return of sports at Ryerson was a long time coming. This collection of stories aims to celebrate the return of the Rams, while addressing inequalities that still exist on the playing field which were illuminated by the pandemic.

I’ve always said the best kind of sports writing goes beyond the boxscore. It doesn’t throw numbers or stats in your face, but rather it’s genuine and authentic. It tells stories of athletes and coaches that are more than what you see on the court.

Although this is The Eyeopener’s annual Sports Issue, these stories discuss topics and themes anyone can relate to—even if you don’t know how to dribble a basketball, throw a spiral, skate or enjoy lifting weights.

As you scroll and flip through The Year In Sports issue, you’ll meet the unsung heroes of Rams athletics, hear from the coaches tasked with navigating their squads through uncertain times, dive into the world of the university’s digital ballers and much, much more.

While this special issue puts the spotlight on Ryerson’s best, its rising stars and unknown faces in Rams athletics, the real MVPs of this project are our dedicated squad of sports writers and photographers. Through cold fall nights at Downsview Park, empty arena preseason games and packed postseason clashes, they’ve carried our sports section all year long. Plus we can’t forget about everyone that’s been reading our stories and sharing them across social media.

Two Rams teams—women’s basketball and men’s hockey—will compete at nationals this week with the hopes of reaching the pinnacle of their sport at Canada’s university level. But for us at the sports section of The Eye, this issue is our championship game—it’s the top of our mountain.

So get comfortable, adjust the brightness on your phone and put on a good soundtrack because it’s time for the main event.

This is The Year In Sports.

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