Quebec isn’t the only player in the Conservative constitutional controversy

The Conservatives may be biting off more than they can chew. In the most recent controversy involving Quebec, voices from within the Conservative caucus have given credence to the possibility of the Harper government opening up the Constitution to enshrine new clauses for Quebec, providing that the Conservatives win a majority in the next election.

But is this just a way for the Conservatives to reach majority seats in Quebec, as they did in the heyday of the 1988 Progressive Conservative government, or is this a genuine approach to appease the province that once sought secession from Canada? Word from within the party caucus has described the party debate as incredibly heated. Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn has said that there is a definite possibility of his government opening up the Constitution for Quebec’s gain. Blackburn also raised ideas of winning 30 to 40 seats in the province purely as a result of this promise. Emphasizing the need for a focused goal, Blackburn ruled out Liberal gains in the province. This, he said, has sent a message to Quebeckers that “people will choose between the Bloc Quebecois and us.”

The issue of extending powers to Quebec through the opening of the constitution can go in two directions. Canada stands by the democratic principles of federalism, whereby exclusive powers are given to each province that separates each one from the government. But there’s a limit to how far these powers should extend. It is beneficial for Canada to willingly recognize Quebec as a prominent province, however this recognition needs to be limited. Certainly giving more powers to Quebec would bind the referendum-happy province with Canada, but what about the other provinces?

The government should be concerned how the remaining provinces in Canada would react if an exclusive agreement was granted to Quebec. There should be a mutual relationship between the provinces and an assurance that the provinces outside of Quebec will receive equal consideration for their own unique identities, instead of focusing federal attention on Quebec.

It is still premature to predict the outcome of granting extended powers to Quebec—though the Conservative government has since denied these ambitions—but it’s likely that the rest of Canada would have mixed feelings.

Provisions should be taken to appease all provinces, preventing Quebec from abusing these powers. Quebec would certainly have a stronger sense of federalism if they had more autonomy within the country, since it would make calls of separation somewhat moot. However, too much power may anger other provincial leaders. Opening up the Constitution shows weakness on the part of the federal government—they’d be seen as being subservient to the province and may hurt Conservative numbers come election time.

Conservative have lofty ambitions for a majority government, and a key to this is gaining more seats in Quebec. The federal government’s desire to triumph in future elections may or may not bring Quebec closer to Canada, but giving Quebec special treatment is far too likely to raise concerns from other provinces.

For now the Conservative government has declared the issue closed, but that’s likely to change when it’s election season once again.

Leatherheads goes long… too long

Oh, how the 1920s always look so beautiful in Hollywood period pieces. The films are lighted with rich amber hues and scored to the music of Al Jolson. Everyone wears fedoras and tailored suits, the speakeasies have great jazz singers and fistfights that don’t look too painful, and the cars are shiny and the streets are always clean. The 1920s set the scene for George Clooney’s third directorial effort, Leatherheads. And while the movie is long and only fitfully amusing, boy…it sure looks great.

Clooney is Jimmy “Dodge” Connelly, the captain of the not-very-talented Bulldogs football team. On the verge of a collapse, Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski), a decorated war hero, emerges as the most popular figure in college football. Dodge convinces his superiors to recruit Carter, who brings in thousands of fans to the bleachers. But there’s trouble beyond the gridiron: an ambitious sports reporter (Renée Zellweger) has heard that Carter may not be the war hero he’s cracked up to be. Of course, a love triangle ensues.

Clooney, who has appeared in several of the Coen brothers’ comedies, seems to be channeling the Coens’ comic sensibility. He fills Leatherheads with a lot of broad, cartoon-like characters, and self-conscious references to past films, particularly the screwball comedies of the 1930s and ’40s starring Hepburn and Tracy. The humour shifts between aggressively quirky visual gags (one of the football team members is a 300-pound highschooler, ho ho) and witty dialogue, as Clooney and Zellweger trade rapid-fire comic banter. While Clooney is always an enjoyable actor with decent comic timing, Renée Zellweger is miscast. Her role calls for a ballsy, Rosalind Russell type, and low-key Zellweger isn’t up to the task. John Krasinski, from The Office, is pure vanilla in a very vanilla role.

Leatherheads runs an ungainly 114 minutes, at least 20 minutes longer than the average screwball. The climactic football scene feels drawnout, particularly following the logical ending. When a story has so little substance, is it too much to ask that it wrap up after 90 minutes?

Leatherheads wants to bring back memories of the storied ’30s screwball, but where those films felt spontaneous, this work is posturing. It’s as if Clooney wanted to emulate the tradition by constantly winking at the camera. The insincerity of Leatherheads becomes quite alienating. Yet it’s hard to hate it entirely. There is something about Clooney’s screen presence that’s kind of seductive, even if it doesn’t quite gel. There’s also something intriguing about the film’s hyperfetishized time capsule. Even the mud on the football field looks beautiful. A lot of skilled technicians have done a very good job creating this cinematic wax museum.

Working for the weekend

For hundreds of artists, photographers, musicians, and filmmakers, this old adage is particularly relevant. All pursuing interests that are not as marketable as say, investment banking, most artsy twenty-somethings have to slag away their 9 to 5 at a job that will pay at least some of the bills.

But how does one balance a day job, and still find time to make art in the extra hours? According to actor and dancer Clayton Labbe, a Starbucks employee (a frequent day job for the creative kind) for six years, it’s not easy. “I try to go out and audition as much as I can,” he says, but is aware that he would have to get a great acting gig to pursue it full time.

With so many artistic individuals trying to supplement their income with a day job, it is important to find the best one. Known for overworking and underpaying their employees, most entry-level jobs will try hard to stiff you. Many swear by Starbucks, which has an above average starting wage of $9.50, and offers health benefits and stock options, as well as artistic grants. “Starbucks is one of the few places with the flexibility and scheduling that allows for rehearsals and auditions,” Labbe says. While he likes the job, he does tire of it. “No, I don’t think I would be happy making lattes for the rest of my life—I think I would kill myself,” he jokes.

Still, some jobs are more fun than others. Erin Fauteux, a saxophonist in U of T’s music faculty, clocks in regularly at the adult-oriented Misbehav’n on Queen St. W. When asked what drew her to the position, she quips, “I like sex!” But that’s not all. “I thought this would be an interesting experience, and it would really allow me to get more educated, and to help others achieve pleasure in their lives.” With an eclectic clientele to pass the hours she can’t spend on music, Fateux relates: “I often end up mediating couples in which one of them is really shy, or the other feels threatened by the size of our, ahem, products.”

But working at a sex shop isn’t all fun and dildos. While Fauteux would like to be a full time musician in the future, she doesn’t see much hope. Music jobs pay well, she says, but there aren’t enough of them. “If I had an eight-hour gig, I wouldn’t have to work [at Misbehav’n] for a week! But they are just a few hours in length.”

And difficult to find. Cellist and singer Hilary Gibson-Wood, who plays with the altrock band The Urban Symphony, also fills a full-time job in order to play music at night. Two years of day jobs, however, have earned her a pretty nice one: a position as a health researcher at the Center for Research of Inner City Health at Saint Michael’s Hospital. While Gibson-Wood reveals that unlike Labbe and Fauteux, she is paid well, she doesn’t see music as a viable option. “I don’t think I ever seriously considered a career as a musician on its own,” she admits.

For Labbe, Fauteux and Gibson-Wood, a career in the arts seems to be an increasing impossibility. If you do have the fortuity to find a job that pays the bills, it is unlikely that you can make a living. In 2001, Statistics Canada found that musicians and painters earn half the salary of the average Canadian worker, while actors make ten grand less than the annual average income of $31,000. And these are the supposed success stories.

A day job can offer temporary relief but can’t solve the problem of artist unemployment. The low wages frequently provided often leave workers without a solution. “If I am still working at Misbehav’n after graduation, I would have absolutely no chance of paying off the $40,000 I will owe the government for my student loans,” Fauteux says. And for Labbe, full time at Starbucks has left him “barely above the poverty level.”

The solution appears far off. While the arts remain under funded and the jobs are few and far between, day jobs seem the only answer. But there are ways improve the lifestyle of the aspiring artiste. “If there is anything I have learned in my many years of minimum wage service jobs, it is that appreciation is the greatest thing a boss can give to his or her employees, and it brings the greatest rewards,” says Fauteux.

And while all three remain busy, they still fight to find time for their artistic expression, says Gibson-Wood. “I’ve always hoped to keep music and creative endeavors in my life, whether it turns out to be a source of income or not.”

Alls well at Alchemy

All’s Well is one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” and as such, is seldom produced or studied in undergrad curricula. Alchemy Theatre made a bold move in choosing to produce it, which as it turns out, has paid off. Although long—three full hours—the production was engaging and energetic, not an easy feat for such a long show.

The central story focuses on the unrequited love that commoner Helen (Jennifer McNaughton) has for Bertram (Michael Rode), who has just inherited his father’s title as Count of Rossillion. Though she is a close confidant of Bertram’s mother, the Countess (Kat Lanteign), Bertram does not share her affection for the young woman.

When Bertram goes to the court of France, Helen follows him and cures the ailing King (Simon Michellepis) of his melancholy. As a reward, he delivers her in marriage to the lessthan- thrilled Bertram. From here, pandemonium ensues.

Bertram, under the influence of a knavish fellow named Parolles (Robert Rainville), decides to defect to the camp of the Duke of Florence (Denny Roy), who is at war with France. Helen follows him only to find that her beloved has been wooing a local Florentine woman, Diana (Amber Mills). Not to worry because the clever trick she pulls ensures that the King and Bertram are reunited, and that she ends up pregnant with his child!

Such a straightforward plot from the Bard is part of why the play is considered a “problem” in the canon. Still it provided ample opportunity for excellent performances.

Rode and McNaughton displayed an excellent lack of chemistry between the two. Rainville proved a goodly knave, particularly during the torture scene. Michellepis and Lanteign stole the show for the Shakespearean purists—one fully expected that they would break out in verse if one met them on the street. Lanteign, who trained at the Bristol Old Vic in the U.K., played up the proto-feminist themes that run throughout the show. A full cast of talented lords, ladies, and soldiers each complimented the ensemble performance.

As usual, Alchemy made excellent use of an unusual performance space, though the blocking was occasionally clumsy, keeping the performers onstage at all times proved an excellent idea from director Hume Baugh. The dance scenes could have been cut entirely without losing any sense of the mood of the show.

A word of caution: if you are not a Shakespeare purist, you will find this show TOO long, and TOO pure. Baugh did not cut so much as a single scene from the performance, the staging was classically influenced, and the costumes were period. Indeed, some inventiveness to accommodate the unusual performance space would have been interesting, but everything worked fine as it is. However, for those of us who enjoy seeing the bard unfiltered and uncut, this is an excellent show to see from Toronto’s urban Shakespeare company, and truly did end well.

All’s Well That Ends Well runs at Alchemy Theatre, 133 Tecumseth Street, until April 13. Discounted tickets for the underemployed (like you!)

A Scientific split

An ongoing feud between scientists lies beneath the surface of scientific discourse. Virtually all scientists have an opinion about it, and there are no easy answers. This far-reaching debate is the everlasting rivalry between the “hard sciences” and the “soft sciences.”

The distinction between hard and soft science is a fluid one. Many sciences don’t fit cleanly into one category or the other. Hard sciences usually refer to the more technical, quantitative disciplines like physics and chemistry, while soft sciences like psychology, ecology or paleontology use qualitative, observational or historical data. There are no official definitions for either term, as the titles are disputed as vigorously as their implications.

Soft sciences are often seen as inferior, their observational methods disparaged as weak and “wishy-washy.” This hierarchy of science is discussed more openly. Recently, doctors Michael Salter and Kathleen Boydell of the Hospital for Sick Children organized an interactive discussion about the respective strengths of the hard and soft sciences. Soft scientists were out in full force, complaining about the lack of respect and funding they receive.

The dominance of hard science isn’t just a perception, and it’s not merely an academic argument. Historically, when a debate about a physical phenomenon is supported by hard science on one side and soft science on the other, the hard scientific evidence has been taken as true. Although hard science is often right, all scientific evidence should be given as unbiased consideration as possible.

Take the example of Lord Kelvin. In 1862, he calculated the age of the Earth by measuring its rate of cooling. Since radioactivity hadn’t been discovered, he didn’t realize that the Earth’s core was continually generating heat. He therefore pegged the Earth’s age at between 20 and 400 million years, far younger than our current estimate of 4.5 billion years.

“He was wrong, but he was honestly wrong,” said Dr. Stephen Morris, a physicist at U of T. “There was a physical effect that was not taken into consideration.” Science, as a self-correcting field, is continually searching for ways to disprove itself. The problem is that Kelvin’s answer ignored the geological evidence, which showed that the Earth must have been much, much older. The mathematical evidence was favoured over the softer, observational evidence.

The problem with the hierarchy of science isn’t just a lack of accolades—the soft sciences also receive less funding. Over the past 10 years, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research awarded $3.4 billion to biomedical research (considered ‘hard’ in the medical field) and only $465 million to social, cultural, environmental, and population health studies.

Some would argue that the hard sciences are more important and therefore deserve more funding. Hard scientific disciplines are vital for continued understanding of the physical world. But is knowing the lifespan of distant stars more important, and more deserving of public money, than figuring out the evolution of species based on the fossil record? Many scientific questions can’t be answered by physical measurements and calculations. Questions about evolution, the environment and human psychology need softer approaches to gain a full understanding.

The soft sciences may be gaining ground, however.

“Soft sciences are becoming harder and harder,” explained Dr. Stephen Morris of U of T’s physics department.

Formerly soft sciences are becoming more technical, with powerful computers that manage data to account for variables in a way that has never been possible, said Dr. Ray Carlberg, also from the department of physics. “Biology, and some areas of psychology, now have a rigorous physical understanding of what’s going on,” he said.

The soft sciences are in some ways able to achieve a level of mathematical rigour equal to that found in the hard sciences.

But is this really a compliment? Many soft scientists don’t feel that a lack of mathematical rigour is the only thing stopping them from gaining the respect enjoyed by the hard sciences. They feel that soft sciences should be appreciated for what they are, and not be forced to use math to be accepted. Their methods and procedures should be given equal value to the statistical methods found on the “hard” side of the fence. Paleontology, for example, gives a unique insight into the process of evolution without any use of mathematics. Stephen Jay Gould, a noted paleontologist, wrote that paleontology “uses a different mode of explanation, rooted in the comparative and observational richness of [the] data.”

Physicist Luis Alvarez once said, “Paleontologists… are really not very good scientists. They’re more like stamp collectors.” Many hard scientists feel that although soft scientists may investigate relevant questions, their work isn’t “real science.” So what is real science? Science is a systematic organization of collected knowledge. It’s an examination of the world around us. For Dr. Morris, science is “whatever can withstand intense skeptical scrutiny.”

Soft sciences do fit within that definition. The theory of evolution, for example, is based mainly on soft science, and it has withstood all scientific (if not religious) scrutiny to date. Scientific pursuits should use the best methods available for answering their questions, whether hard or soft.

Because of the historical dominance of the hard sciences, it is less necessary to argue for their continued support. The lines between different types of science are blurred as they interact and complement each other: many scientists believe the distinction between “hard” and “soft” should and will slowly fade. “Most scientists have respect for other scientists,” said Dr Carlberg, adding, “In the end we’re all interested in ideas, which are neither hard nor soft.” This mutual respect will be necessary for the success of science in its ultimate goal, the search for knowledge.

Dirty projected

While many critics accuse indie rock bands of drawing on too many esoteric references, a few artists are turning to America’s new pop music, contemporary soul and R&B, for inspiration. It’s easy to be skeptical of white dudes trying to sound like Amerie, but when confronted with this music live this past Tuesday at Sneaky Dee’s, it’s hard not to feel that these guys might be on to something.

After an entertaining set by local electronic musician, Nif-D—one of these “indie R&B” bands—No Kids, took the stage. Three-quarters of defunct Vancouver band Piano, No Kids played pleasant pop ditties that would have been unremarkable if it weren’t for lead vocalist, Nick Krgovich.

Singing in falsetto with dead seriousness, Krgovich displayed a vocal ambition unusual for most. Although he occasionally came across like someone’s dad fronting a Mariah Carey cover band (Coke-bottle glasses, and a sweater vest didn’t help), Krgovich kept No Kids’ songs interesting.

As the half-hearted applause died at the end of No Kids set and the audience surged closer to the stage, it was clear that everyone in the packed venue was there to see the headliners, Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors.

Formerly a solo project of mastermind Dave Longstreth, The Dirty Projectors has morphed into a formidable live band, with guitarist Amber Coffman and bassist Angel Deradoorian providing backup harmonies for Longstreth’s melismatic singing.

While The Projectors clearly draw from urban music, evident in their vocal acrobatics and prominent bass lines, their success lies in how well they blend this infl uence with a variety of other genres to produce intriguing music that’s hard to classify.

Playing a mixture of newly written songs, tracks off their most recent album Rise Above (a re-imagining of Black Flag’s Damaged), in edition to older material, The Dirty Projectors demonstrated reasoning behind their stylistic quirks. Their voices were dramatically expressive, providing accessible points for the listener to grab on to, while the disorienting interplay between Longstreth’s and Coffman’s guitars drove the songs forward.

During a highlight of their set, a breakneck speed version of “Imagine It,“ a portion of the audience near the stage started to mosh. Perhaps that’s what these R&B infl uenced bands are after: soulful music you can mosh to.

Listen Up!

Editor’s Pick: Woodhands – Heart Attack (Paper Bag)

Until the release of Heart Attack, Paper Bag Records had been experiencing a drought of up-tempo, danceable releases. Here on their debut, Toronto duo Dan Werb (ex- Spitfires and Mayfl owers) and Paul Banwatt drop an album’s worth of body-rocking electro-pop that should elicit head-banging and pogo dance moves in clubs and bedrooms alike. Banwatt’s pulsating acoustic drums are layered with Werb’s dirty synth lines, but what makes Woodhands better than most are vocal parts that are perfectly fitted to maximize catchiness. To this end, highlights include the heartfelt lamentations of “I Can’t See Straight,” the sugar-sweet guest vocals on the sometimes- agro “Dancer,” and a pretty duet with fellow Paper-Bagger Laura Barrett on closer “Sailboats.” But by far the standout track on Heart Attack is the arresting fl oor-filler “I Wasn’t Made For Fighting,” which sounds like Chromeo getting jacked by punks behind the Sam’s at College and Augusta. —JORDAN BIMM

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Daniel Lanois – Here Is What Is (Red Floor Records)

This album features an interesting compilation of styles, and given it’s Lanois’ fourth album this decade, consider it a showcase of his versatility. The first half of the album is consistent in its supple, twang-like melodies in “Here Is What Is” and “Blue Bus.” While his vocals are monotonous, Lanois gets away with it. “This May Be My Last Time” juxtaposes previous songs with a gospel fl are. “I Like That” creates a sullen mood, where one will inevitably become entranced by its quirky instrumentals and soothing vocals. “Duo Glide” is similar; its nattering guitar solo seems endless and without climax, which causes one to slip into an inevitable vegetative state. The album is cool and calm, making it suitable company to a Sunday afternoon of lounging (and recovery). —Suzannah Moore

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The B52’s – Funplex (Astralwerks)

Neither a hit nor a miss, The B52’s are notorious for producing distorted, angular sound, reiterated in their most recent album, Funplex. The style is quirky, and may require an acquired taste and pre-existing loyalty. The band has been around for three decades, and their image is tiring: on the cover they look like your parents dressed up like characters from Beetlejuice. It’s ambiguous whether or not they’re trying to be farcical. Although they may not be trying to live up to “Love Shack,” this album barely moves in any direction. For a voice that has loaned itself to Iggy Pop’s “Candy,” Kate Pierson wastes a lot of her breath nattering without melody to a discordant sound. Fred Schneider sounds like an obnoxious Weird Al impersonator in their third track, “Eyes Wide Open.” Other than that, the two singers don’t sound much different than they did fifteen years ago.—SM

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The game plan

It’s a typical late-November morning, mercury on the thermometer heading south, many of us wishing we could make the same trip. Jessica Hiew is busy lacing up her cross-trainers. She puts her books down beside her to make sure she doesn’t forget them. A crumpled uniform hanging out of an old gym bag the only evidence of the double life she’s been leading.

She doesn’t have much time to think: she’s late for class, or is it practice? Lately it has all blurred into one. Without looking, she picks up her books with one swift movement and is out the door. Suddenly the cold hits her like an opposing point guard, but she fights through, weaving past a throng of slow moving students in front of her. It all seems very familiar; like she’s done it before. Heart pounding, she finally gets to class just as the professor walks in, cursing the weather. A wave of relief runs over her’ she’s made it, all the training has paid off.

For many student athletes, the challenges don’t stop once they step off the field. In the real world there are no timeouts or substitutions, and the game ceases to be five on five, but everyone for themselves. Jessica, a second-year guard on the University of Toronto women’s basketball team knows that when the final buzzer sounds, the real game begins.

Like any other undergrad pursuing a degree, she often finds herself walking a delicate tightrope between school and recreation, but trying to maintain that balance can be even more elusive: “It’s happened several times where I had a test, but I haven’t done much studying, and then you have to drag your butt to practice, and you’re thinking I could be using these extra three hours to study for the exam the next day,” says the physical education student.

Taking one for the team

Being a student athlete at one of Canada’s top academic institutions is a bit like leading a double life. Every athlete is required by the University to maintain full-time status in their programs (usually a minimum of three credits) in order to be eligible to play for a Varsity team. They also commit upwards of 15-20 hours a week to their sport, including two-hour daily practices, team meetings, video sessions, and weekend games, which can adversely affect their scores off the field.

“I remember in first year, my time management was an absolute mess,” recalls Mike Bialy, the captain of the men’s soccer team. “I thought ok: an hour to get to practice, two hours of practice and another hour to get home, and I’ll study after, which clearly never happens because you’re absolutely exhausted from training. By the time you get home there’s nothing you want to do except get some sleep.”

More than a game

For Michael, the dilemma is slightly more complex than a decision to choose school over sports. Getting good grades in University does not always guarantee you the career you want, especially when your dream is to have the best of both worlds: a career in athletics. Unlike Jessica Hiew, who plans to enter medical science or optometry, Michael wants to pursue what he’s known for most of his life: soccer.

“Basically I’m trying to do the whole professional athlete thing,” says the fifth-year political science student. “That’s pretty much going to be taking up most of my summer, then I’ll see where it goes from there.”

Winner of both the Ontario University and Canadian Interuniversity Sport MVP awards for soccer in recent years, Michael has already attracted interest from professional clubs in the United Soccer Leagues, and practiced with the Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. Still, most soccer players turn professional at a much younger age than the 23-yearold Bialy. American soccer prodigy Freddy Adu began playing for D.C. United of the MLS in 2004 at the age of 14, the same year Michael began plying his trade for U of T’s Varsity Blues:

“My chances might be hindered a little bit because I’m going so late. I’m 23 right now, and 23 is considered old. If I had gone when I was 18, I would have had better opportunity. Then again, I think I developed a lot playing for the program that U of T has.”

There is no tried-and-true path to becoming a professional athlete, no four-year program you can take. Oftentimes it takes as much dumb luck, stumbling into the right situation or opportunity, as it does skill. And so, it’s always important to have a backup plan, and that’s where the student part of the equation comes into play. Michael, who also minors in math and statistics at UTM, is keeping an open mind to career options outside of sports:

“I think I’d be able to [do a desk job], just for the fact that I wouldn’t stop playing soccer at least at the amateur level, for something to look forward to.” He has even considered entering accounting (his mother’s profession) but wants to see where soccer takes him first.

Globe trotters

Sports has taken a couple athletes on a strange and circuitous route. For Jessica Hiew, her love of basketball took her from her native Canberra, New South Wales, to Idaho State University on a basketball scholarship, then finally to the University of Toronto. Hiew was chosen most valuable player three times at Radford Highschool, but she was forced to seek opportunities abroad due to a lack of athletics in Australian universities.

U of T grad Safiya Muharuma, 28, can relate to the trans-national adventure. After completing teachers college at OISE in 2003, the former

defenseman with the Varsity Blues decided she wasn’t prepared to commit herself to that career for the next 30 years: “I wanted to do something closer to athletics than simply being a phys-ed teacher at a school” said the East York native.

Muharuma, who helped lead the 2000-2001 Blues squad to an undefeated 35-0 record, decided to prolong her hockey career by joining a professional women’s hockey team in Switzerland, an experience which she admits broadened her horizons, but also left her in a state of uncertainty: “Your path kind of opens up in forks in different directions. I think that’s what happened with me. If I hadn’t gone to Europe I wouldn’t have second-guessed becoming a teacher. But after I went there for 2 1/2 years I really thought about doing other stuff.”

Her story also shows that a career in professional sports is not always full of the glitz and glamour North Americans have come to associate. Sports doesn’t exactly pay the bills, in fact Muharuma never had a paycheque from her Swiss club, working at U of T sports camps in the summer just to fund her hockey dream. “I didn’t play hockey for the money,” says Muharuma, “I played because I love it,’’

Scoring off the field

In 2007, Canadian Universities, U of T in particular, finally started to step up to the plate to help fund student athletes, many of whom can’t work parttime throughout the year because of their intense training schedules. Last year the Faculty of Physical Education and Health gave out close to $250,000 in athletics-based awards, much of which is donated by alumni and friends of the faculty. There are currently 50 awards for athletics according to the FPEH awards handbook, ranging from basketball and hockey, to rowing, swimming, and fencing. All awards related to participation in Varsity sports fall under OUA and CIS regulations, which sets a limit of $3,500 per student, as roughly half of the 50 awards are for the maximum value (This year the deadline for awards applications is April 11.)

The big picture

Is it worth being a Varsity athlete in the long run? The majority answer in the affirmative, without a second thought.

“My best memories of my university experience will definitely all be basketball related. It’s pretty much been my life here,” says Hiew, who helped the women’s basketball team capture OUA silver this past season.

“Sports has definitely defined my university experience,” says Jessica Fitzgerald, 23, a wrestler who is pursuing a second-entry degree in pharmacy at U of T. “Being an athlete, that’s my label. You know, some people are sorority girls, or whatever, and I’m a student athlete, that’s what I do. I couldn’t imagine not competing while I’m at school.”

Considering the amount of hours most students’ waste procrastinating, , there is something noble in dedicating oneself to an ideal and pursuing it. The important thing for any student is just to find that balance: “It really helps you develop your time management skills [being a student and an athlete] because it forces you to stay on top of things, you can’t just waste time on other things” says Fitzgerald.

“I would say I was a better athlete than a student,” says Muharuma, recalling her experiences. “That’s going to be an honest answer, I was a good student, but I’d probably be a better student if I wasn’t an athlete, but then I wouldn’t have gotten to be an athlete, so it’s a catch 22. It’s worth it in the end.”