Level the playing field

Club and IM sports should receive more university funding

Taryn Wattles | Assistant Photo Editor Raina Harmon, the Assistant Women's Basketball coach, tries to dodge a member of the opposing team during an Intramural Flag Football game Sunday Sept 14 at the I.M. Fields.

When Central Michigan University students talk sports, they are most often discussing scores of the latest professional or NCAA games. Rarely do club sports or intramural sports games surface in conversation. 

Fueled by a strong culture of fandom, many professional and NCAA athletes have achieved “sports god” statuses that extend on and off the field.

Perhaps no group of students on campus exemplifies the love of collegiate athletics more than the athletes on club teams. That’s in large part because club teams have little to no support compared to their NCAA-competing, varsity counterparts.

Club players do not come to CMU on scholarships. They do not travel to games via luxurious buses. They do not dress in extravagant locker rooms.

But there are many more students involved in club sports than in NCAA sports. According to a New York Times report, an estimated two million college students play competitive club sports compared with the 430,000 playing in the NCAA. The number of students involved in IM sports is much higher.

CMU’s URec reported that 5,140 students participated in at least one IM or club sports event. Scott George, assistant director of IM and club sports at CMU, said there will be 1,450 total IM teams and 40 active club teams this year. 

In 2013, the NCAA had nearly $913 million in total revenue. CMU’s Athletics Department is worth $25.5 million, of which $18.5 million comes from the university’s general fund.

The Student Government Association allocates anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 to club teams, but they are mainly self-sustaining. Yearly membership dues, referee fees and field-rental prices pile up and often become impossible burdens for money-conscious college students. The yearly fee for some club sports, like hockey, can be as high as $1,000 per person.

If CMU increased its funding of club teams and IM sports, more students would be able to pursue their passions on the field. It would also strengthen the atmosphere of hard work and collaboration on and off the field.      

While club and IM sports do not make money for the university like NCAA sports, they are arguably just as important for the student body because of the many people involved and the community they build.

It’s time for CMU to level the playing field for all athletics on campus by increasing funding and making it more accessible for students. 

For more details on IM and club sports at CMU, contact CMU’s URec department at (989) 774-3686.