Club sports fight for funding, play for pride

Women’s soccer players Anna Blanchard (above left) Aseala Abousaud (above right) are representative of one of the 44 club sports offered at Georgia. Club sports must reapply for funding each year. EVAN STICHLER/Staff

Every student at the University of Georgia understands the near reverence attached to the university’s football team. With hopes of keeping up with the growing prestige carried by SEC athletics, the UGA has decided to renovate the football team’s practice fields, creating a state-of-the-art, $30 million dollar indoor athletic facility. 

Football is a money-producing factory for the university, making around $77 million in 2014, according to Businessofcollegesports.com. Bearing this in mind, it is understandable that we pour money into the program so it can return the investment. And return the investment it does, as football generates more annual revenue to UGA than any other sport. Further, this renovation will provide indoor practice facilities to all UGA NCAA athletics. 

Fair enough; every student at UGA gets that fooball takes precedence. But at what point do players cease to trample their opponents and begin to tread on fellow students? 

The football team cannot practice on its usual fields during construction, so relocation is essential. But relocation to where? They cannot be expected to practice at a local facility or the dingy Intramural Fields. No, football players are entitled to the best of the best. But while the best is under construction, the begrudged team is willing to relocate to the second-best facility: the Club Sports Complex, where every sport played at a non-varsity level shares one facility. Now, club teams are banned until January 2017.

Meanwhile, the club sports have been relocated to the IM fields. The sports organize themselves on a single football field with a pair of goal posts, as opposed to a large facility. The practice time adjustments have left teams having to practice from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., sometimes in 20-degree weather.

How benevolent of the University to give the club players their hand-me-downs, in the form of installing the football team’s turf in the Club Sports Complex. A real “win-win,” as Athletic Director Greg McGarity called the turf construction in an interview with The Athens Banner-Herald. 

 Members of club sports teams work hard to make their school proud. Scholarships are few and far between, and no one gives them free gear. The players fight to earn their place and wear the Georgia logo with pride, yet the university treats them as inferior athletes. This field and its displacement of club sport athletes exemplifies the comparison between SEC athletes and every other college athlete. Both groups work, but only one reaps the rewards. The other? It has to move. 

— Ashton Sanders is a freshman from Cartersville majoring in English and communication studies

Opinions expressed in The Red & Black are the opinions of the writers and not necessarily those of The Red & Black Publishing Co., Inc. Contact the editorial staff with other viewpoints at opinions@randb.com.

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