Drake: Impressive club sports performances warrant greater recognition, respect

Geneseo touts a strong tradition of highlighting student achievement within and beyond academics. The Geneseo mission, as stated on the school website, is devoted to nurturing an “enriched life” in its students through “a rigorous curriculum and a rich co-curricular life.”

The school does a wonderful job of celebrating student achievement in academics; the same cannot be said of extracurricular activities. Geneseo fails especially in recognizing the excellence of its club sports teams.

The college routinely ignores club sports. Some may argue that this is due to the teams’ playing at less competitive levels than varsity sports. To be blunt, such an assumption is dead wrong.

The crew team routinely competes in regattas alongside Division I schools. The Ultimate Frisbee teams both play considerably larger traditionally Division I schools like Cornell University. The men’s and women’s rugby teams are Division II, with winning seasons for the past several years. The recently recognized club Quidditch team plays in the Division I bracket for New York.

To make short of a long explanation: Many of Geneseo’s club sports teams play at a higher competitive level than the Division III varsity teams.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am in no way attempting to diminish the many accomplishments of varsity sports. I am simply drawing attention to the clear imbalance in coverage received by varsity over club sports.

But they are club sports. Who cares if they play at a higher level than our Division III varsity sports? Opinions may vary on a personal basis. The college, however, makes it perfectly clear they should not be biased.

Geneseo’s website cites that the school values “diversity, and respects the unique contribution of each individual to the campus community.” Disregarding the accomplishments of one student organization in favor of another is a blatantly disrespectful.

I realize there are concerns that highlighting club sports could lead to requests for financial support from the college. If one is aware of the current economy at all, such requests are unreasonable for a state school. Finances, though, are not the problem.

The school professes to have “planning goals” such as “enriching the collegiate experience by strengthening the integration between curricular and co-curricular programs.” There is a striking imbalance between school recognition of academic accomplishments and accomplishments of club sports.

Consider this: The men’s Ultimate Frisbee team finished the fall with a 14-5 winning season and played the championship game of its last tournament. Crew rowed well in NCAA regattas in Rochester, N.Y. and Philadelphia, Pa. Women’s rugby proceeded to state playoffs for the third year in a row. These are only a small collection of achievements for a few teams. This is hardly the complete picture.

A second planning goal that is glaringly overlooked by the school is its supposed effort to “recruit, support and foster development in a diverse community of outstanding students.” One is perfectly correct that these are club sports. Maybe it doesn’t matter that they play in a higher division than the school, but that is the point of diversity.

It should not matter how a team is funded, whether by the athletic department or Student Association. It should not matter if they play on carefully school-groomed fields or recreational fields. It should not matter if the team name is prefaced by varsity or followed by club. It should not matter that club teams are “club.”

Club sports are student teams organized, funded and made up by Geneseo students. They deserve the college’s respect and claims to “support and foster.” They deserve to be celebrated just as much as any other organization on campus.