College is stressful, we’ve all figured that out by now. Most of us know that basketball, squash and racquetball at the Health and Wellness Center or tennis, ultimate Frisbee and soccer on the Mount Vernon Campus can be life savers when you need to let out some frustration or just delay that hour of studying a little bit longer.
However, a better-kept secret is that GW also provides a more competitive option than the friendly pick-up game. Club sports are a big part of the atmosphere here at GW. The school has 27 different club sports teams that compete throughout the year.
Club sports aren’t just competitive stress relievers, they have some real-world applications as well. Being part of a team is something most of us will have to do later in our lives. Team sports teach commitment and the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal. Listening to your coach or older players on the team teaches humility and trains you to take constructive criticism. You have to be on time, make sacrifices and prioritize – just like a job requires.
So with all the good things club sports have to offer, you would think GW would support and encourage its club sports teams just a little bit more. GW preaches that it wants to provide a complete building experience for its students. Academics are first, but creating a well-rounded individual prepared for life after school is important. So why are club sports underfunded and put on the back shelf?
It seems as though the red tape surrounding school funds makes getting money all too difficult. Members of club sports have to raise much of their funds by themselves. It’s true that these teams don’t make money for the school and should find some of their own funds. But the GWellness Web site claims to assist clubs in gaining the funds they need. Different teams have different deals, but few of them exceed $500 a semester. This pays for one tournament if you add up transportation, rooming and a tournament entrance fee. The money the school gives is simply not enough to help sustain a club team for an entire season, even after substantial fundraising.
Facilities are another major issue. As it stands, varsity teams can barely get enough playing time on the Vern. This makes it nearly impossible for the soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee and other teams that need time on the field. Practices must be snuck in at the end of the day, leaving teams to race against the setting sun for practice time. On the weekends, the field is rented out to local organizations for soccer or lacrosse camps. The worst part is that the Vern has a policy where you can’t call to get a schedule of the field. They will only tell you if someone is on the field at the time. This is the most important shortcoming of the club sports program at GW. With the school in debt, it is hard to ask for money, but it is not too much to ask for the school to better manage field and court schedules. It is as easy as quicker and more informative communication.
It is inarguable that participation in team sports helps build life skills. They are also a great stress reliever and can help you relax and separate yourself from the rigors of college life, if only for an hour or two. So why doesn’t GW do more to support its club teams? The school offers an impressive list of club sports, but doesn’t give them the funds and facilities they need.
The solutions may not be easily accomplished, but the way forward is clear: Rent another field near the Mount Vernon Campus, give teams more funding, or make fundraising opportunities easier to access.
The writer is a freshman with an undeclared major.
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