For The Love Of Sport

Anyone who knows me knows there are two things close to my heart: sport and the United States of America. Combine the two and you get the phenomenon that is college sports.

Basketball, football, baseball, gymnastics, hockey, La Crosse and amateur wrestling – you name it, the university played it. The students would all wear their colours and sing in unison as they made their way to the stadium. Everyone would gather to the nearest bar or restaurant to watch the game together.

Sport truly is the pinnacle of the American college experience.  So imagine my disappointment when I came home to Australia.

Granted, sport is huge here, whether it’s kids playing soccer on a Saturday or meat pies at the footy. But what about at a university level? Where’s all the talk of UOW sports teams? I spoke to a UOW sports club and a society to find out what they can offer students and why sport seems to fly under the radar here at the university.

UOW Cricket Club

Arguably it’s one of our national sports, so why don’t we hear more about the UOW Cricket Club?

“We have no way of advertising,” says UOW Cricket Club President Bruce Tosswill. All sporting clubs at UOW receive no funding from the university itself or from the SFA fees. Mr Tosswill believes this has resulted in very little access to students and publicity around the university.

“We do not have access to SOLS emails… the university does not want the email system being blocked up. URAC is hopeless. We are offered the chance to a have a table at O-Week but there’s no point because our season ends a week or so after that. We have no way of getting [our information out] to students.”

Previously, UOW had 26 teams in a variety of sports. Today there is only four. In order to fund the club, Mr Tosswill says that all UOW sports clubs must seek sponsorship and charge fees to members. “Many students can’t afford to pay the minimum fees… luckily we have sponsorship from the Masters Builders club.”

Despite this, anyone can sign up to play for the UOW Cricket Club. The club currently has six teams in the Illawarra competition with different grades and training every Tuesday and Thursday.

However, Mr Tosswill believes that without university support or funding, all sports struggle to make an impact on students at UOW. “We even have to hire the grounds at a discounted price. People reckon I’m joking when I tell them we have to pay to play on our own grounds.”

UOW Snow Sports 

Personally, I find snow difficult to walk on, let alone compete on. So UOW Snow Sports Society Treasurer Siri Schlebaum told me all about the group.

“The Snow Sports Society was established in 2009. On our Facebook group page we have over 600 members, and then every year during O-Week we get 300 new students sign up… This year we had 450 sign ups.”

Schlebaum says that the society is becoming more popular every year and that their big events are held annually during the middle of the year. “Our main trip is to Perisher or Thredbo on the first weekend of August, and then [we have] movie nights, pub crawls, retro parties and joint snow trips with “I Like to Party” to Japan and NZ.”

She encourages anyone to join who has an interest in snow sports, regardless of their experience. “When I joined Snow Sports, it was my second time snowboarding. I just liked how cool the people were that were already in the society. It gives you the chance to make friends with people.”

However, she feels that those who join the society generally don’t take part in any of the activities organised throughout the year.

“We are a very seasonal sport and the cost is really high. We don’t do that many trips. Membership gets bigger every year… but then people seem to forget about us after they sign up. ”

Schelbaum also believes there is a lack of advertising for sports around the campus. “There’s Uni Games once or twice a year but that’s it. There are teams that we have but you don’t really hear about it… the uni should publicise that more.”

However, if hitting the slopes and meeting a whole bunch of new people sounds right up your alley, UOW Snow Sports might be the society for you. “We’re more like a group of friends,” Schelbaum says.

So will sport ever be a priority here at UOW? Definitely not until the sporting clubs and societies receive more support from the university. We can only hope that in the future, with a little advertising or funding from UOW, our university could have some competitive spirit.

And if you think that colleges don’t take sport seriously, check out this time lapse footage of UNC Chapel Hill, after their basketball team beat their rival.

Article by Kelsey Sutor, who believes you shouldn’t hate the player, hate the game.


You can follow her on twitter at @KelseySutor