Apart from the Varsity Blues football team’s infamous 50-game losing streak, it seems that U of T students have little to no knowledge of sports on campus. Does that stem from a lack of awareness of the Blues teams, or is it simply apathy?
Excluding the championships, Blues games generally have empty bleachers and the glare of the opposition as the only spectators. “I went to a Blues football game earlier in the year. I don’t know football very well at all so I just followed along with the crowd. I didn’t realize until the end of the game that the loud cheering was coming from all the people who had come from Queen’s and that there was next to no one who was actually cheering for the Blues,” says Hannah, a second-year arts student.
Nicole, a second-year history major, is frank. “I just really don’t care. Even if the teams were doing well, I can’t think of anything that would actually compel me to go to a game.”
It would seem that a large number of students on campus have a mistaken opinion of the Blues tainted, by that infamous football losing streak — which, for the record, has been snapped. People seem to assume that every Blues team has a similar losing record, yet teams like field hockey and soccer were ranked among the top in Canada last season.
“I didn’t even know we had a field hockey team, to be honest with you. I thought we only had a football team,” says Amanda, a third-year student.
Perhaps the apathy among students is because of campus media’s failure to let students know how U of T’s teams are doing. Sure, some college papers cover intramurals, but would more focus on intercollegiate teams lead to a rise in attendance of Blues’ events?
Marco, a second-year science student, doesn’t think so. “I’m not a sports-oriented person. Even if all newspapers had 10-page sports sections, I wouldn’t be drawn to them. I’m not going to pick up a newspaper to read the sports [section] when I have no interest in the team or players.”
Sports and sports teams are clearly not what lure people to the university. “U of T is a very academic school and people come for their programs, not for the sports. The sports are a bonus for people who like sports, and it’s only these people who go to the games,” notes Nicole.
Some schools are labelled “party schools”; this university would be an “intellectual school.”
Perhaps the fault lies in the city itself. “You’re in Toronto. The Leafs play here, the Argos play here, the Raptors play here. If you had to choose between the Blues and the Raptors, I’m pretty sure you’d choose the Raptors,” argues Blaise, a graduate student.
When the Blues play a team from outside Toronto, the opposition can sometimes appear to have a larger, louder, and more enthusiastic following than our own. Perhaps in a large city such as this there are simply too many other sources of amusement to expect a large turnout at university-level sporting events.
“[The Blues] are in competition with the city,” agrees Marco. “Then there’s the plethora of international students who maybe don’t really know much or care for the sports [played here] because maybe they’re not popular in their home country.
“There is stuff here for everyone [at U of T], but because of that, there’s not a surplus of people in a certain area. Sports has a crowd but not the mass amounts of people you would expect in a school outside of Toronto.”
Perhaps the best answer to the question of why students don’t attend Varsity Blues games is the least complicated one — apathy. Nicole sums up that sentiment. “Why would I go? I just don’t care.”