Possible rule change
Is it fair that the host team gets an automatic berth?
Article: Paige Kreutzwieser – Staff Writer
Hosting a national championship can be a hard task.
Alison Fisher, Program Assistant for the University of Regina Recreation Services, knows that all too well.
The U of R curling teams will be playing host to the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national championships this March and Fisher is involved in organizing the event.
“It’s hard in it’s an extra thing added into your job description,” she said. “But at the same time we have a really good support system through our organizing committee, so a lot of the work falls to them.”
Despite the heavy schedule this year, Fisher said she is enjoying her time.
“It allows me to give back to the students that I work with everyday,” Fisher said. “And it’s a great opportunity for them.”
That “opportunity” is the CIS rule, which allows the host team an automatic berth into the championships.
Fisher thinks it’s a great thing for the home team.
“It’s a great reason for people to bid [on hosting],” she said. “But it’s also a great reward for all the work we do to see our teams compete.”
Fisher also mentioned the advantage it gives the committee to selling the event at the local level.
“In hosting the Brier or the Scotties you think ‘Oh, I hope Saskatchewan does well,’ so you can sell seats to the playoffs,” Fisher said. “Where this way our teams are there.. which if they weren’t it would make selling that championship to the community a lot harder.”
The athletes tend to feel the same way.
Skip of the U of R women’s curling team, Lorraine Schneider, enjoys the fact her team is able to play in this year’s CIS championship.
“It’s finally our turn,” she said. “We finally get a spot for sure. So, we got into Westerns knowing we already have a spot.”
It is not uncommon that host teams earn their way into the championship. Take the Cougar women’s basketball team last year who hosted the national championship, but still made it there through their success during the season.
Third-year post for the women’s basketball team, Alyssia Kajati has opinions on both sides of the debate.
In her first year as a Cougar, it was a new format she was exposed to.
“Every other sports team I had been on, you had to always win your way to nationals,” Said Kajati who admits that she is a little more indifferent to the idea. “It would be terrible hosting nationals and the home team not being in the running. The fan base wouldn’t be as abundant and I don’t really think it would be as fun.”
Schneider also knows the down side to this as well.
Last year’s curling championship was hosted by Thompson River, and although Schneider deemed them as a decent team she still sees the unfairness.
“It’s hard because there are super good teams in CIS, and then there are teams that are just in it for fun,” Schneider explained. “If people that are in it for fun get to go anyway, you know that those top two spots are going to be taken by the best teams anyways, it does limit who can qualify.”
From a committee standpoint, allowing the host team an automatic berth can be beneficial, and for many of the home teams it can be an encouraging bonus.
“It’s a great second chance [if you didn’t win your way there], and that’s the great thing about sports. Personally, I like being the underdog. It motivates me that much more to try my best,” said Kajati.
Although the idea of the host team getting the automatic berth can be upsetting to those who don’t make it, Kajati has some good advice.
“If you were counting on the very last spot to get to nationals then I suppose you should have won more games in the year to ensure that spot.”