So You Think You Know Sports?

Hurling: the fastest sport on earth

So You Think You Know Sports?

The world of sport is far more diverse than what you see offered at sports bars. This series will profile the lesser-known, the more interesting, and the downright peculiar sports that you haven’t heard of until now.

The thud of a lacrosse ball’s impact with the boards at a box lacrosse game is thunderous. It reverberates in your chest, as the crack of a baseball striking a bat on a crisp October night slices through silence with the ability to bring 50,000 people to their feet.

For three millennia, amateur athletes have engaged in hurling, a sport that combines the frightening speed of lacrosse with the sound and excitement of a ball coming off a bat.

Hurling is an ancient Irish sport of Gaelic origin, and it is considered the fastest sport on earth. The cork and leather ball, called a ‘sliotar’, travels off the stick, or a ‘hurley’, at upwards of 100/mph.

Often, the ball is fired at players who are wearing only a plastic helmet for protection. The hurley looks like a cross between a wooden scimitar and a field hockey stick; it has a handle and shaft ending in a flat, two-sided blade.

Teams include 15 players including a goalkeeper. Each is equipped with a hurley and the objective is to strike the sliotar into the opposing teams’ goalpost for points. The goal looks like a soccer net with football uprights attached to the top.

Teams score one point for striking the ball over the crossbar and through the uprights, and three points for scoring the ball into the net. Incredibly, players are actually expected to catch the small hurtling ball with their bare hands, or they can pick up the ball with the hurley.

A player can travel four consecutive steps with the sliotar in his hand. Afterwards, if players wants to continue advancing with the ball, they have to balance it on the hurley while running. At any time, a player can choose to pass the ball by hitting it with the hurley.

Players must wear helmets, which only became mandatory in 2010, and goalkeepers are required to wear facemasks. Otherwise, no protective equipment is required.

Hurling is not for the lighthearted; the sport can be dangerous. In 1997, a goalkeeper took a shot to the groin, shattering one testicle and having to remove half of the second one.

Despite the dangers, hurling has a lot of parallels with well-known North American sports, and it is not a far stretch to foresee the sport taking off here, even on our own campus.

A legend passes

Arnold Palmer dies at age 87

A legend passes

The impact of Arnold Palmer on golf cannot be measured in pars or birdies. The impact of Palmer outside of sport transcends conventional human measurements. The man was called ‘The King’ by fans, and arguably, he lived up to that nickname in every facet of his life.

Palmer was one of the first captivating faces of golf. He is known for bringing popularity to the sport. His passion and flare for the sport defined what golf is today. From the recognizable hair glistening in the sunlight as he walked down fairways, to his practice of mixing iced tea and lemonade, Palmer was iconic.

Palmer was known for his electric swing, which zigged while other swings zagged. His powerful yet elegant swing is best described as a masterpiece.

That magnificent swing led Palmer to rack up 95 professional wins, including seven major championships. His three-way rivalry with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus is one of the most compelling storylines in golf history. Palmer’s participation in the rivalry helped elevate the magnitude of major tournaments to the level of importance that they enjoy today. These majors, particularly The Masters Tournament, was the scene of historic finishes by the trio.

Look no further than a course in our university’s backyard to see how powerful Palmer’s company truly was. Palmer won his very first PGA Tour event, the 1955 Canadian Open, at Weston Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, Ontario. Nestled along the banks of the Humber River, Weston has a statue of Palmer holding the 1955 Canadian Open Trophy, which sits adjacent to the club house before the first tee. The first hole is named in honour of Palmer. Pictures of Palmer are abundant upon the clubhouse walls. Palmer simply winning a tournament there has defined one of the most prominent courses in Canada. That’s the type of mark Palmer was able to leave.

For all his endeavours on the course, Palmer’s impact outside of the golfing community is not to be forgotten. Not many people can boast having a drink named after them, and yet Palmer finds himself in that exclusive club, as his name is given to the mixture of iced tea and lemonade. His charitable contributions remind us that Palmer appreciated his status and strived to use that influence to make the lives of others better. His foundation is known for its work with the children’s hospital in Orlando that also bears his name.

Palmer will always be remembered as the person who brought golf to the mainstream, while living life off the course with the same passion and respect that he was known for on the course. Palmer is no longer with us, but his spirit lives within every drive, chip, and putt.

The Fall 4k Fun Run that was surprisingly fun

A student makes his first foray into U of T’s running community

The Fall 4k Fun Run that was surprisingly fun

On September 25 2016, the Hart House Recreational Athletics Committee hosted a Fall 4k Fun Run, which started at 10:00 am and departed from Hart House. From there, the participants, myself among them, circled Queen’s Park twice, King’s College Circle once, and then ran through Philosopher’s Walk to the Varsity Centre.

The cost of the event was $10.00 for Hart House members and students, which is fairly inexpensive compared to other runs of this kind.

While the information participants were provided with leading up to the event was limited, after showing up at the predetermined spot at the predetermined time, the route was made very clear by a man with a booming voice and strategically placed volunteers who directed you with all the gusto of a ground air traffic controller.

Upon finishing the race, the same volunteers provided the runners with food and water — they were very understanding when I went back for my sixth cup of water in two minutes. A group photo was taken, and then the runners dispersed.

I probably got lapped. I’m a very casual runner and this was the first official ‘run’ I’ve taken part in. Some of my preconceived notions were reinforced, but I definitely gained new perspective on them.

It seemed like everyone was part human and part machine. Also, since it was ‘only’ a 4k run, I felt the pressure to keep going, despite wanting to take a break.

As it turns out, these were both good things. I don’t think I’ve ever run 4k faster, despite being one of the last to finish. When people cheer you on at the finish line, it becomes clear that the community is very supportive. Everyone had to start running somewhere, after all.

I always thought running was the easiest way to maintain an effort at ‘healthy living’. Only over the course of the last year has running become something important to me.

I know that I’m in the process of learning to love running; as part of that process, I have to keep three things in mind. First, accept it. Accept that you’re going on a run today, and don’t let yourself think otherwise. Second, be patient with your body. It’s okay to walk if you need to. Running is also about enjoying the city and exploring — it’s not all about fitness. And third, don’t focus on the numbers. You’ll get a sense of what they are, even if you don’t keep track — you get better, and the numbers get better too.

When I signed up for the run, I was really nervous. When I finished the run, I was at my own best.

U of T signs defaced with swastikas

Incidents of vandalism reported by Hillel U of T

U of T signs defaced with swastikas

Two University of Toronto building signs and an on-campus bus shelter were defaced with drawings of the swastika symbol over the weekend in an act of vandalism.

The first marking was found on Medical Sciences Building signage at 1 King’s College Circle on Friday.

A student passerby noticed the graffiti on Friday afternoon and brought it to the attention of Hillel U of T, a Jewish campus organization. The group immediately reported the incident to campus security, after which the marking was promptly removed by university staff.

Rob Nagus, Director of Hillel U of T, told The Varsity that the organization was “pleased that the university responded quickly and removed the graffiti.”

The organization also posted a photograph of the graffiti to their Facebook page, assuring students that they would be “monitoring the situation and working with administration to ensure that the University of Toronto is a safe campus for all students.”

The swastika symbol is commonly associated with the atrocities committed by the Nazi Party, anti-Semitism, and racism.

University spokeswoman Althea Blackburn-Evans confirmed that the first marking was removed soon after it had been reported.

Blackburns-Evans added that the university’s Campus Police had filed a report with the Toronto Police and that an active investigation is underway, although “there are no leads or witnesses at this time.”

A second swastika symbol appeared on a bus shelter near the southwest corner of St. George Street and Harbord Street later on Friday; it has since been removed.

In addition, on Saturday evening, a third symbol was discovered on a signboard outside the Department of Sociology building at 725
Spadina Avenue.

It is unknown if the three incidents are connected. Nagus told The Varsity that these incidents were reported as well.

At press time, the graffiti at the Department of Sociology building was still present.

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U of T student detained in Dhaka granted bail

Tahmid Hasib Khan has been detained in Bangladesh since early July following café siege

U of T student detained in Dhaka granted bail

After 3 months in Bangladeshi police custody, U of T student Tahmid Hasib Khan has been granted bail. He was initially detained without charges by police so that he could be questioned regarding a Dhaka terrorist attack on July 1.

Bangladeshi police from the Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime Unit released a report on September 28 saying that Khan was not involved in perpetrating the attack.

Khan was with his friends at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka when five extremists attacked the bakery in a hostage situation, killing 20 people.

After a standoff with police officers, the siege ended with 13 survivors. Khan and British national Hasnat Karim were immediately taken in for questioning following the attack. Khan had limited communication with his family at first but quickly lost contact.

Following the incident, Khan’s whereabouts were unclear, but Dhaka Metropolitan Police officially arrested Khan on August 4, without laying charges.

With the efforts of Khan’s family and friends, a ‘Free Tahmid’ Facebook group has received significant support in its attempts to advocate for Khan’s release since he was
initially detained.

Joshua Grondin, U of T student and organizer of the Facebook group, told The Varsity that he is deeply relieved to hear that Khan has been released from custody. “It’s been a very long waiting game, and it definitely feels tough to have to sit back and watch your friend go through something like this,” he said. “I guess most of all I’m just overwhelmingly happy. I miss him so much, and it’s been really tough to not be able to hear from him or know how he’s doing.”

Khan was reportedly released Sunday.

SCSU, UTSU butt heads over UTSU After Party transportation

Tensions high after too many buses dispatched to the event

SCSU, UTSU butt heads over UTSU After Party transportation

Controversy is brewing over transportation decisions at the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) After Party last month.

The After Party happened on September 9 at the Sound Academy and bussing was arranged between the three campuses and the club. According to a report from the UTSU, a “certain division curtailed the previous agreements and brought more buses than were originally agreed upon.”

Divisions refer to the student societies from the three campuses of the university — UTSU, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), and the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU). SCSU and UTMSU were responsible for arranging their own shuttles to the event, and the number of buses from each had been confirmed with the UTSU ahead of time. The division involved in this incident was the SCSU, but the report does not mention the name of the division.

UTSU Vice-President, Campus Life Shahin Imtiaz told The Varsity that SCSU had originally agreed to provide five buses, but instead sent seven.

“To someone who’s maybe not the organizer, the difference between 5 and 7 buses may not be super apparent” said Imtiaz. A UTSU executive told one of the excess busses that arrived at UTSG to turn back to UTSC due to the growing number of buses that were continuing to appear at the Sound Academy.

Imtiaz also explained that the limit on the number of buses is a “sort of crowd control measure so that we don’t have an unexpected number of people show up, and Sound Academy… is sort of out of the way… so it’s not ideal to not know how many people are attending.” Despite this, the overflow of buses did not lead to many issues with crowd control.

In addition, UTSU learned upon arrival at the venue that there was no parking lot due to ongoing construction. “We were not told about this in advance… which made it even more confusing, and even potentially dangerous, when there are these buses, we have no place to park them, nothing to do with them, and more are coming that we didn’t authorize,” said Imtiaz.

The bussing incident has led to feelings of animosity amongst the UTSU staff. “I think the overarching idea is just that we had agreed to a certain thing, and we do it to make it a tri-campus event,” said Imtiaz.

Historically, the UTSU has kept frosh events open to all campuses, with costs of the events only borne by the UTSU.

The UTSU Management Committee — which is comprised of President Jasmine Wong Denike, Vice-President Internal & Services Mathias Memmel, and Executive Director Tka Pinnock — made the decision to “ not allow this group to participate in future years unless an apology is issued and a formalized agreement can be reached.”

When prompted to acknowledge the statement, Memmel stated in an email to The Varsity that the Management Committee hopes to work with the division involved to resolve the problem, but declined to comment further on the matter. Although Memmel was mum on the name of the division involved, Denike and SCSU President Jessica Kirk confirmed that it was SCSU that sent in the extra busses.

“After receiving approval from UTSU’s President and the ED and communicating with their Orientation, one of our extra buses that was supposed to have gone back to Scarborough was reassigned to travel to Sound Academy,” explained Kirk. “The reason we had an extra bus to begin with, was that the Orientation Team anticipated more students wanting to use our bus service to return to UTSC. It turns out we only ended up needing to use one bus to take students back to the Scarborough Campus.”

Kirk has also stated that she had reached out to Denike to debrief but had not received a response.

Denike told The Varsity that the union had agreed to let an extra Scarborough designated bus into the venue because it was not at capacity yet. She also explained that Kirk had only reached out to her to speak on September 29, with “no context given about a debrief of any kind.”

“We are still awaiting a response or explanation about why there were more than the 5 agreed-upon buses that were designated for Sound Academy to begin with,” said Denike.

The myriad of unforeseen issues is prompting the UTSU to rethink the way the After Party is run. Imtiaz stated that the UTSU staff “were extremely stressed, our executives were extremely stressed… We were thinking about foregoing and just re-visioning everything, kind of based on how negative everyone’s experiences were.”

Imtiaz cited accessibility concerns as one reason to reassess the event. She added that organizers “had to go out of our way to make it accessible, with gender-neutral washrooms and such… Maybe we can even do something closer to campus, something that’s maybe even outdoors, or large enough so that the students don’t need to be bussed out.”

Though the night was negative for the UTSU staff, the issues did not appear to affect students in attendance at the event. Imtiaz confirmed that despite the bussing issue, the event was a success overall.

U of T gets hold of The Golden Legend

500-year-old classic the oldest printed English text in U of T’s collection

U of T gets hold of <em>The Golden Legend</em>

The University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library has recently acquired their oldest English print book: a 1507 copy of The Golden Legend.

The library is home to 800,000 rare books and is the largest rare book collection in Canada. The Golden Legend was originally compiled in 1260 by Jacobus De Voragine, a scholarly friar and later archbishop of Genoa. De Voragine aimed to encourage the faithful by preserving a vast store of information about the legends and traditions of the church. In the book, he wrote stories about the lives of saints. The Golden Legend was the most read book in the Middle Ages after the Bible.

Later in the fifteenth century, a man named William Caxton translated the book from Latin to English, also adding stories from the bible. This addition generated both negative and positive feedback. Caxton’s additions made the teachings of the Bible accessible to ordinary people, but it was also considered illegal at the time.

“Like most of our books from our rare book collection, I found them through dealer catalogues,” said Thomas Fisher Rare Book special librarian Pearce J. Carefoote.

Before the U of T library took possession of The Golden Legend, Carefoote explained that it was in London in a family’s private library. When asked what relevance The Golden Legend has today, Carefoote answered, “Well the stories themselves are quaint and fun but not historical fact. What makes it important is how this is from very early English.”

Traces of readership from the Reformation period — which marked the beginning of the Protestant movement — is apparent. A reader during this period leaves traces of themselves, within The Golden Legend, through the scratching out of any mention of the Pope.

The page about Thomas Becket — the murdered archbishop of Canterbury, who King Henry VIII disliked — was blotted out with an X.

The Golden Legend allows readers to enter into a world of the Reformation, the Middle Ages, early English printing, lives of saints, and more, making it applicable to many of the programs offered at U of T.

CFS gears up for Fight the Fees! campaign

UTSU criticizes campaign for being too vague

CFS gears up for Fight the Fees! campaign

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is calling for a national day of action on November 2, as part of its Fight the Fees! campaign, which calls for universal, public post secondary education.

“Fight the Fees is part of a national campaign strategy adopted by Canada’s Student Movement towards a national day of action on November 2nd,” CFS National Chairperson Bilan Arte told The Varsity. “The campaigns objective’s are to educate, agitate, and mobilize students across Canada to achieve universal, public post secondary education in our country.”

Currently, Ontario students, including University of Toronto students, pay some of the highest tuition fees in the country. The CFS reports that tuition fees in Ontario have increased five percent annually on average. The CFS intends to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments with this campaign.

The current provincial government tuition cap framework allows tuition to go up three to five percent annually for domestic undergraduate students in most programs of study. There is no cap for the amount an institution is allowed to raise tuition for international students.

While many students can apply for loans, they may still face massive amounts of student debt after graduating. Accumulated debt after graduation is now estimated at an average of $37,000 for a student enroled in a four-year program.

The current tuition cap framework expires in 2017, which is why the CFS believes now is the best time to take action.

Free tuition is not a new idea, nor is it exclusive to Canada. Many countries have already opted for free or substantially subsidized tuition plans including Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and France.

“Our campaign believes that access to university or college should be guaranteed and accessible to all, no matter how much money they or their families make, or which region of Canada they are from or happen to live in,” explained Arte.

“Canada is a wealthy country, and if our provincial and federal governments made it a priority to fund a universal system of post secondary education in this country, as exists in countless examples around of the world of countries with free education, this too could be a reality in Canada.”

However, not all student leaders are convinced by this campaign.

University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Vice-President, Internal & Services Mathias Memmel, said that the union sent a letter to the CFS criticizing Fight the Fees! campaign.

According to the letter, the UTSU feels that the campaign does not adequately address the concern of Ontario’s looming tuition fee cap framework expiry.

“We would prefer that the CFS focus on the Tuition Fee Framework as opposed to on another non-specific campaign for the abolition of tuition fees,” reads a portion of the letter.

“In this respect, Fight the Fees seems to favour restating CFS policy over advancing the interests of the students paying the highest fees in the most expensive city in the province.”

Memmel told The Varsity that the union is not opposed to participating in the CFS’s campaign: “The point of the letter was just to make clear to the CFS that, because of the shortcomings of Fight the Fees, we’ll also be running our own campaign, which will be our first priority.”

“The CFS always does a good job of making students aware of what’s happening to their fees, but because there’s so much distance between what the CFS is saying and what the government is considering, very little actually happens,” he continued.

“Barrier-free education is the goal of the movement, and we want to further that goal by pursuing narrower, policy-based goals—we want things to get tangibly better for students, even if only slightly at first.”

When asked about the UTSU’s criticism of the campaign, Arte responded by explaining that every student in Canada should have the right to go to school.

“As we face this crisis, now is the time for a united student movement that will take action for a cause that ensures that all in our communities will have the opportunity and guaranteed right to get an education,” she said. “I hope that executives at the University of Toronto Students’ Union will stand with us in that fight, and defend education for all on November 2.”