Canadian university fall sports take a hit

By Michael Boriero, Local Journalism Initiative ­Reporter

Student-athletes in Quebec are waiting with bated breath as the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), the province’s student sport federation, decides on the future of sports for the fall season.
The Atlantic University Sport Conference (AUS), Canada West Conference (CW), and Ontario University Athletics Conference (OUA) suspended all fall sports.
Meanwhile, the national sport governing body of university sport in Canada, U SPORTS, cancelled all fall championships. This has a particular impact on the Bishop’s University Gaiters sports program.
Several years ago, the university shifted its football program from the RSEQ to the AUS. They are left with no regular season and playoffs because of cancellations caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel bad for the other athletes right now who are getting their season taken away, especially the football team, our biggest program, and them being affected, it sucks as a fellow student to watch them go through this,” said Bishop’s men’s rugby team captain Tyler Murphy.
Although football is the only Gaiters program officially cancelled for fall, other sports, including women’s soccer and women’s rugby, will no longer have national championships.
However, their regular season remains intact, even if it is a precarious situation. With major university leagues across the country cancelling their fall schedules, a postponement of the RSEQ fall season feels inevitable.
“I’m around some of the rugby players and some of the athletes here in Lennoxville, you can kind of see it in their faces because they’re student athletes,” Murphy said about the unease many student-athletes are facing these days.
At this point, the fourth year rugby player from Brome Lake is eager to complete his studies. He’s in his final year of sports studies with a double minor in psychology and English. He has aspirations to become a teacher in the future.
But while Murphy is ready to graduate, he said that cancelling his final season with the Gaiters would be a devastating loss. They are students first, but, he explained, athletics is what keeps university athletes motivated.
“My rugby program and the team I’m on is everything to me. It’s my family away from home. If I could be on the field right now, training with no contact and just passing, I think it would awesome to have that,” said Murphy.
Zion Vervroegen-Thomas, a guard for the Gaiters men’s basketball team, understands the difficult decisions made by the conferences outside of Quebec and U SPORTS. He wasn’t surprised, especially if it means keeping people safe during a health crisis.
Basketball isn’t in any jeopardy yet. His team plays in the RSEQ and it’s more of a winter sport. But Vervroegen-Thomas said that if the regular season was cancelled, or shortened, it won’t affect his mentality as a student-athlete.
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