Fencing And Football: Level Playing Field, Ha!

24 08 2007

JJ’s Disclaimer: I was a college fencer at UF, once a southeastern champion in women’s under-19 foil, qualified for a few nationals and once the Olympic trials (for a quick first round exit!) The whole thing was out-of-pocket, no support from the university except for that trip to the Olympic trials, when we got involved enough in student government politics to make a successful pitch for a few hundred bucks each out of the activity fees. No coaches, no trainers.

We used to drive ourselves around the state to weekend tournaments in a Datsun, and sleep in front of the gym because we couldn’t afford motel rooms. Sometimes we bunked in the local locker rooms. The resulting kinks and stiffness on the strip the next day were all part of our thrill of victory and agony of defeat! 🙂

fencing600-nyt-college-fundraise.jpg

One Sunday morning every fall, members of the Penn State fencing team spend hours scraping nacho cheese, chewing tobacco, peanut shells and cigarette butts off the floor of the university’s 107,000-seat football stadium.

Cleaning after a home game is an annual fund-raising ritual for the team, a coed varsity program that is one of the most successful in national competition. Unfortunately for Division I athletes in sports like fencing, winning championships does not guarantee financial stability. . .

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5 responses

24 08 2007
COD

Yeah, I’m not exactly counting on a fencing scholarship for my son 🙂

24 08 2007
JJ

Not that I have any grudge against Gator football and basketball, mind you! But still . . . where’s the educational justification for this? There is none. It’s like what’s wrong with political campaigns — the money is the justification, and the money stands alone. Case closed.

24 08 2007
JJ

And not that I’m still cranky about it or anything, but we were performing a whole lot better hanging from our shoestrings back then, than the well-funded but chronically disappointing football team was under Doug Dickey!!

24 08 2007
COD

The schools essentially discriminate against world class athletes based solely on their ability to generate revenue for the school. Rutgers, one of perennial top dogs in collegiate fencing, just dropped the sport. So know they are a club sport, totally responsible for their own fundraising, etc.

24 08 2007
JJ

Did you see the coach quoted at the very end of the story? Typical institutional-tribal attitude, not just for sports (maybe he was paraphrasing Moses?)

“We bond through our misery,” Moody said.

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