When it comes to university sports in Canada, drawing a crowd is not the easiest thing to do.
Some of the larger schools can draw around 2,000 fans a game for certain sports, but it is unfortunately just as common to see a team have only a 100 or so at a game. Many people have drawn their own conclusions to why this is the case. Some feel that the CIS needs to do a better job at marketing university sports to students, whether it be through more advertising or simply showing more games on television. Others feel like CIS is simply inferior to the NCAA.
The latter sentiment is definitely an unfortunate one, and likely one shared among many students here at the University of Regina.
However, after attending a sports event here at the U of R and viewing the athletes in action, the quality is undeniable. While it would be hard to argue that the CIS is superior to the NCAA, especially when it comes to the talent of the athletes, it is easy to argue that university athletes in Canada are very talented and they regularly produce some very exciting games. After all, these are athletes who often continue playing their sport at a competitive level once university is done. In football, for example, many of the athletes have gone on to play in the CFL, and, on occasion, the NFL.
While the quality of the CIS game is evident, it is also an attraction that makes a lot of sense for university students. At the U of R, many of the sporting events are either free, or very cheap. With the exception of football and hockey games, which are only around 20 minutes away from the university, other home games are located at the U of R, therefore very easy to access for students who live in the university. Attending these sporting events is great way to get out with friends, while supporting the school at the same time.
Unfortunately, merely stating these words will not necessarily persuade more students to attend games at the U of R.
That is why the Carillon has worked hard this year to promote all university sports at the U of R. As the sports editor, I have tried to do this through season previews, game previews/recaps, and features. Of course, I have also been helped out greatly by our sports writer Autumn McDowell and other contributors including Colin Buchinski, Ed Kapp, Dietrich Neu, Joseph Grohs, Martin Weaver, Bryan Smith, Nathan Liewicki, and the various roundtable contributors. Our photographers, such as Jarrett Crowe, Marc Messett, Matt Yim, Matt Duguid, Kelsey Conway and Weaver, have helped illustrate the section.
This year, the Carillon sports section ran season previews for many Cougar teams: cross-country, men’s basketball, men’s hockey, men’s volleyball, swimming, women’s basketball, women’s hockey, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. While we did not manage to preview every team’s season, I feel we gave fans a good chance to get into sports at the U of R this season by providing them with a base knowledge of their teams. The problem with CIS sports is that some students just do not realize they are there. I have heard some students confess this year that they were not even aware we had a certain team. That is what the team previews hoped to fix: to increase awareness and give important information to fans who were thinking of attending games this season.
After teeing up the seasons, we turned our attention to covering the games. During this time, we have covered live events including cross-country, football, men’s basketball, men’s hockey, men’s volleyball, men’s wrestling, women’s basketball, women’s hockey, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. It has been important to include game reports in the Carillon, because it keeps fans up to date with their team if they cannot make it to a game. Any home games/events that we could not cover, or any away events or bulletins, were included in our weekly roundup.
Our attention has also been focused on features. Features go beyond the game score and give students a closer look at their athletes and teams. While we did plenty of features on the clubs we have already mentioned, meeting some amazing athletes in the process, the features also gave our sports section the opportunity to profile clubs that do not always get the most attention. Our women’s curling team is a perfect example. They won the CIS championships last season – the first women’s club at the U of R to do so – and advanced to the world championship. Yet, they had not been covered in the Carillon before. We made sure to do that this season, and also talked to the current U of R women’s squad, who went to nationals this season. With the success of our curling program at the U of R, they have definitely been deserving of the coverage.
We also talked to the women’s softball team, who won a national title themselves last season, but had not received much coverage in our paper at all. The way their program has been built up from the beginning has been truly amazing, and they’re now at a point where they can consistently compete each year. We have also included articles in our section about handball, rowing, and intramural sports. Stay tuned in our next issue for a feature on our successful cheerleading team.
Of course, our sports section has not included all local sports. While it would obviously be nice to have a sports section with eight pages of university content, it is not realistic. There are usually only three home events per week, coupled with the fact that you can only run so many features. The biggest reason, however, is that some contributors are not willing to cover local sports at the U of R. That’s cool, and I have certainly been willing to accept all contributions this year, local or not. I feel it is important to let writers write about their passion, and sometimes that is not university sports. We have included articles on the CFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, and MMA, to name a few.
University sports, however, have always been my main focus. I think that is the beauty of a university newspaper like the Carillon. Our sports section is not obligated to cover every local, national and international sport out there; we only have to focus on university sports if we want to.
That is what I feel should be done. Instead of complaining about the lack of CIS coverage, a student paper needs to provide the CIS with coverage. It is my sincerest hope that whoever is the sports editor of the Carillon next year will continue to promote university sports, and encourage contributors to do the same.
As for the students out there who have read the Carillon sports section this year, I hope we persuaded you to take in a game at the U of R. If not, I hope you are now considering doing so in the future.
For more information on sports here at the U of R, visit reginacougars.com and uregina.ca/recservices/index.html. To learn more about Canada West, the main conference our sports team compete in, visit canadawest.org/. Finally, to get more information on the CIS, check out cis-sic.ca/splash/index.