I’m not touching the Chartlottetown thing. Theres nothing I can add that hasnt already been said by some pundit somewhere. About the only thing left is my own position, which is the obvious one. Free speech has limits, and the only time it’s acceptable to bring violence is when it’s to stop other violence from being enacted or incited, and even then as a last resort.
So instead, I’m commenting on something much lighter but perhaps equally concerning to an audience of university students: collegiate sports.
Most universities and colleges have sports teams of various sorts. Even if you don’t tend to follow sports, you still will tend to cheer for your team, and be slightly pleased when you here that teams from your university have won some sort of prestigious or challenging game. Theyre also useful for a recruitment tool, having an excellent sports program is a draw for some types of students, another factor that students weigh in when theyre looking at their choice of a post-secondary institution.
AU has attempted to dip its toe into the sports world, forging partnerships with other colleges in creating a hockey tournament, and even creating an MBA in Hockey Management. But that still doesnt give AU its own teams. With our own teams comes opportunities for merchandizing, or creating deeper connections with Athabasca students, where we have something from Athabasca to cheer for, or, if were on a team, to do something “for Athabasca University.” Admittedly, this is difficult to do at a distance university. Were not on a campus, so an event that requires we gather together on a field or in an arena, whether to play or watch, isnt going to be something many students could benefit from.
But there is another option.
E-sports, or electronic sports, are a rapidly growing segment of the sports market, with some tournaments now appearing on specialty sports channels, and the audiences growing each and every year. What is it? Its video games. Typically, team based, with some form of strategy. And this form of sports is growing, with a very few expert players now making a living exclusively from participating in these events. Theyre especially big at the collegiate level, because, let’s be honest, thats the age demographic that typically has the time available to devote to the hours of practice that are required to compete at the top level.
But that competition also comes with access to scholarships and some prospect of fame for the sponsoring institution. Very recently, engadget announced that top teams in a coming “Collegiate Rocket League” tournament will net $50,000 in scholarships. Rocket League is a video game involving three players on each side using rocket-equipped cars to essentially play soccer. However, the nature of the game isnt whats important. There are a variety available. Whats important is that this is a sport that fits in perfectly with the distance nature of our institution. Its something that AU students could do, something that would help to promote AU, be a bit of fun, and maybe gain some students some money in the process. With a little bit of marketing support from the institution (or maybe even from AUSU) this might be a winning idea to help AU stand out in the increasingly competitive field of online education.
After all, if you were looking at two distance education schools and one of them had stories about the school or student body supporting the team, even if you think treating videogames like sports is crazy, the notion that youre looking at a school that has a well-developed culture of support between students, an area that the students can all unite behind, might be just that little bit of extra appeal to help make your decision.
It also serves another factor. Any university that has some sort of sports team is far more difficult to consider to be a simple degree mill (even though we have a degree in Hockey Management). And while the stigma of online education has largely diminished for AU, an organized, institutionalized sports team would help to bury it even further.
And yes, part of this comes from my own love of video games, I’m not going to deny it, but I don’t think the benefits I list are exaggerated. So if youre interested in helping pursue or develop this idea for AU, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if enough people are interested, maybe we can make something happen.
In the meantime, this week, our feature continues to explore the people behind CASA this time talking to their officer of Governmental and Stakeholder relations. AUSU invests a significant amount of money to be part of this group, so it’s good that we have an idea of what that group is doing for us.
And speaking of money, this weeks Council Connection reports on AU approving it’s newest budget, which stands to have the organization see a deficit of close to a quarter-million dollars, and its plan to address this deficit, by raising the fees that students pay per credit.
But if that filthy lucre is a subject youd rather not hear about, you can also check out Barb Godins latest article, this one on the lessons shes learned from the men in her life. What originally started as an article for Fathers Day has become, I think, something much more profound and definitely worth a read, whether youre a man or a woman.
Plus, I do want to draw your attention this week to the Creative Spark, where Marie Well looks at how humour can improve your creativity and help you think of out-of-the-box ideas to bring to your essays and studies. Its an article that had me laughing while being a bit revolted at the same time, so obviously it’s something I needed to share with you.
We also have an installment of All the Music be Happenin’ Now that I think is definitely worth a read. If you havent been reading this series of articles, I suggest you at least give this one a try, and once you’ve done that, you can search our archives for the rest.
That plus news, advice, thoughts on open windows, developing your creative writing, events (well, one this week), reviews of the ubiquitous fast-food restaurantswe’ve all eaten at them, but have we ever stopped to really compare themand more from the AU community all await.
Enjoy the read!