THE SANTA CLARA
September 25, 2014
With over 5,000 undergraduate students paying a hefty $43,812 each year for their tuition and fees, it’s hard to believe that money would ever be a problem for Santa Clara.
It’s even harder to believe that money is the primary reason why Santa Clara cannot provide basic club sports, such as soccer, basketball, swimming and baseball programs almost always offered at other universities.
Insufficient funds paired with inadequate staffing and limited facilities within Santa Clara’s Campus Recreation Department only make matters worse and further frustrate student attempts to start new club sports teams, which has been the case for years.
Initially, upon the incredulous realization that a women’s club soccer team does not exist at Santa Clara, my friend and I hoped to start one. Despite persistently reaching out to the heads of Campus Recreation and even Santa Clara’s own president, we were ultimately told that students cannot start new club sports teams at Santa Clara.
The given reason for this? Campus Recreation already experiences difficulty maintaining its current level of operations with the limited resources that the department is given. Apparently, we were not the first students who wanted to start a new club sports team.
Nevertheless, one cannot help but wonder how an athletically accomplished school like Santa Clara, with a proud tradition of competitive Division I athletics, only has 18 club sports teams. In fact, even publicly funded universities, such as the University of California, value club sports as a top priority and continue investing in them, despite heavy budget cuts from the government.
Perhaps finding solutions to the challenges of expanding club sports at Santa Clara is not as elusive as it may seem. Santa Clara as a whole has great financial resources and should provide enough funds to allow Campus Recreation to expand its club sports program and hire more staff members to manage the department.
Even if just 0.01 percent of each undergraduate student’s tuition ($5 per student) went toward club sports, Campus Recreation would receive over $25,000. This must certainly be enough to expand the club sports program. As a point of reference, currently a total of $26,000 maintains Santa Clara’s 18 club sports teams.
In addition, if more fields are necessary to sustain a larger club sports program, teams could always use nearby parks. Plenty are located close to campus.
Some might claim that Santa Clara has larger problems to focus on at the moment, but is that not that the case for any university? After all, if students are the most important stakeholders of a university, then shouldn’t their interests matter most?
In the short three quarters that I have attended Santa Clara, students have unsuccessfully tried to form water polo, soccer and basketball club teams. Clearly, students have a great interest in starting new club teams.
While some sports like water polo resorted to forming a Registered Student Organization, RSOs ultimately prove to be insufficient replacements for club sports teams because of two major reasons: sport clubs cannot compete against other schools and RSOs must be open to all genders.
Intramurals have also proven to be an insufficient replacement because they impose restrictions that alter the true nature of competitive sports. For example, in intramural soccer, neither slide tackling nor sliding is allowed. In fact, players get penalized for using tactics that are normally valued in competitive soccer. Intramural soccer games occur so infrequently, only once every two weeks.
As wonderful as RSOs and intramurals are, those programs focus on recreational enjoyment rather than commitment, high-intensity training and competition.
As an athlete who gave up an opportunity to play college soccer, I deeply miss the sport. Most of all, I miss learning to push myself harder physically, training daily and building friendships with my teammates.
Ultimately, allowing more club sports will offer a middle ground for students who are not Division I athletes but desire to consistently train with a team and compete at a high level. As students, we have exhausted every possible option and have spoken to every authority available. Now, it is up to Santa Clara to allocate more funds to club sports, as it dutifully should.
Victoria Yu is a sophomore communication major.