It was a semi-final game, sudden death. The regular season was over and now the loser goes home for good.The place was packed-with 200 spectators.We are talking about a basketball game between two Ontario universities.The winner of this conference will proceed to a Dominion of Canada championship.

200 spectators watching a beautifully coached University of Toronto team take on the Laurentian Voyagers in the biggest city in Canada. 200 spectators.And therein lies the difference between Canada and the USA.

200 spectators. Where was everybody else on this winter night? Shouldn’t they be dying like their southern cousins for for good old Notre Dame or the hundreds of basketball and football factories that make a mockery of post-secondary education in the USA? Shouldn’t I have been in a field house that seats 15,000 cheering for teen age athletes? The answer obviously is no. My alma mater has decided that its library system with 15 million holdings which places it in the top four research libraries in North America is more important than a massive shrine to sport.Thousands of students were doing other things that night as part of the 300 clubs that proliferate through the campus of the largest university of Canada, recognized as a global leader in so many areas of research.

Who was it that deemed football or hockey more important than choral societies, water polo teams or French clubs? Or the many volunteer societies which give students a shot of altruism and a place to belong away from home? Sport should be fun, a community-building experience not an occasion for idolatry or slavish adulation.

What was more impressive was to see 13 of the 15 players on the U of T team were from the Metro Toronto area. No embarrassing recruiting here. You need real marks to attend this school. Sadly the Laurentian team had three players from Saginaw, Michigan.What’s that about? We have to go to Michigan for scholar-athletes?

What a breath of fresh air to see a hokey 10 piece Engineers’ band and 5 cheerleaders dressed in jeans having fun.

What a treat to go to a game and pay $5.00 instead of the highway robbery it costs to see the pros play—and they only run at one end of the floor! And I didn’t pay $5.00 courtesy of the kindly coach.

Give me our intercollegiate system any day. What we see are important priorities enshrined. Let’s keep it that way.

1 Comment »

  1. 1

    What’s that all about?

    In a post on the priorities of Canadian academic insitutions on academics vs. sport, Ted Schmidt wrote a number of words that I agreed with, among which were:

    200 spectators watching a beautifully coached University of Toronto team take on the Laurenti

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