Point/Counterpoint: The case for & against Queen’s Athletics’ team & club systems

Two Journal staffers debate the current Queen’s athletics division of team sports

Journal Staff dish their takes on the state of club and varsity programs.
Credit: 
Photo Illustration by Justice King

Journal Staff go back-and-forth on whether the gap between varsity clubs and teams is unreasonably judged. 

Matt Scace: For the system

At Queen’s, there’s a divide that exists between varsity teams and clubs, and the school has chosen to do this methodically through many years of market research and professional advice.

The Queen’s Model for Competitive Sports, which was released by the Athletics and Recreation department in 2010, outlines their market-driven teams. These teams are basketball, football, hockey and volleyball (all men’s and women’s leagues with the exception of football). Through this document, Queen’s has defined their priorities, categorizingtheir sports into market driven, high performance and competitive.

The teams previously mentioned have not only provided strong results for the school in the past, but own a long history of popularity at Queen’s. Football won its first championship in the 1893 Grey Cup while the women’s hockey team traces back to the 1890s, being one of the first Canadian universities to hand women a pair of skates. 

This deep history has caused these sports to become a part of the Queen’s fabric, making the team’s sporting events an inevitable part of every student’s experience. This is what the athletics department has recognized, leading them to make sports games money-generating events. It’s something that would be much more difficult for Athletics to do with a club team who has little recognition across the country, let alone Queen’s.

On top of this, a school’s athletic department only has a certain amount of resources they can distribute to the teams of their choice. While these were likely difficult decisions to make, Queen’s can’t forget that they have a bottom line to protect. If money-generating projects are abandoned to put all teams on the same level of importance, the athletics department will be searching for money they don’t have.

As Queen’s pool resources continue to grow, it’s possible for a successful club team to transition to being market-driven team who can provide the school with financial growth. But for the time being, those teams are just going to have to wait. 

Clayton Tomlinson: Against the system

There’s a divide between varsity clubs and teams at Queen’s — that much, at least to me, is clear. 

A lot of variables are at play, but it boils down to a matter of varsity teams receiving a greater amount of institutional support than club teams.

One of the biggest glaring differences between clubs and teams is in terms of finances. While some varsity athletes receive some sort of scholarship to play for Queen’s, club athletes experience almost the reverse opposite — having to pay a fee to play for their teams.

Rising tuition rates have been a longstanding problem for plenty of students on campus, and charging athletes who are financially insecure to register for an athletics team is unreasonable. 

Ultimate frisbee, for instance, is a varsity club that performed and excelled at as high of a level as any varsity team did in the past two years. Although the team is back-to-back national champions, Queen’s Athletics still requires the program’s players to pay a yearly fee.  

Moreover, the school could improve its support of club programs by further promoting its teams and athletes. If you were to go to the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation website, you would mostly find information on the varsity teams. 

There’s a healthy and timely stream of varsity team articles posted to the site. For example, game recaps are posted less than 24 hours after games end. Club articles, however, are published only when it’s big news — including features and player and coaching profiles.   

Athletics ought to respect the students dedicating themselves to athletics day in, day out despite there being no incentives for them like their varsity team counterparts.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.