Club Sports Stuck on the Sidelines
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 01:11
A Jesuit education is supposed to stress the importance of body, mind and spirit, but the administration of this university has grossly neglected one-third of this triumvirate. Relative even to the lackluster attention given to the university’s varsity athletic programs and intramural sports, the extensive array of club sports remains an overlooked entity on campus.
Not all Georgetown students are cut out for the varsity level, but without adequate support from the university, many miss out on a valuable opportunity to develop aspects of their lives through the cooperative, spirited and health-promoting environment provided by club sports teams.
With 940 undergraduate student-athletes on 29 teams, club sports participants make up nearly 15 percent of Georgetown’s undergraduate student body. This vibrant and dedicated base has been subjugated to a system designed for the convenience of others. Field space not already reserved for varsity athletics is monopolized by intramural sports. The remaining space is then divided up between competing club sports teams, forcing them to fight over already meager resources.
A typical club practice occurs at 10 p.m. on a field split into thirds so multiple teams have a chance to meet and participate. Sports played on 100-yard fields are practiced in a 30-yard space, occasionally even less. If intramurals are relocated to a space previously assigned to a club sports team, that team must then practice on the outskirts of the intramural game — if they are allowed to continue practicing at all.
Most club sports teams must also practice on Kehoe Field, a facility typically avoided by Georgetown’s varsity teams — and for good reason. Patches of concrete poking through the slim layer of outdated artificial turf make the field a breeding ground for shin splints and turned ankles.
Club teams represent Georgetown at games, tournaments and national competitions yet have to fight with intramural teams for practice space and recognition on their own campus. Granted, varsity athletics ought to be given priority for space on the Hilltop. However, club sports deserve a transparent and fair system of space division like all other valued, legitimate organizations on this campus.
The Advisory Board for Club Sports combines 29 club sports teams into one functioning body and works with administrators to get funding, allocate space and improve the functioning of club sports. But ABCS faces a lack of support and recognition and has been drastically underfunded by the administration. Of all the advisory boards at Georgetown, ABCS receives the least amount of tuition money and therefore has the greatest reliance on funding from the Student Activities Fee.
The Georgetown University Student Association is forced to make up the difference. In 2011, GUSA more than doubled ABCS funding to meet demonstrated need, but club sports will continually struggle to have their needs met without a significant increase in funding from the university.
It is time for club sports to receive adequate funding, and the university must recognize their need for space on campus and give them the respect they deserve. The Report on Student Life in 1999 and the Student Life Report of 2012 have both called upon Georgetown’s administration to encourage the development of these teams with a semblance of the attention given to intramural programs. Nevertheless, the administration has failed time and time again to support club sports as a fully matured institution on this campus.
Ben Weiss is a sophomore in the College. He is a member of club rugby and chair of the GUSA senate Student Life Committee.