Thursday, December 1st, 2011

How Do We Stop Canadian Student Athletes from Going Down South?


Canadian athletes barely consider entertaining offers to stay home to go to school.

Canada’s college and university athletes play in the shadow of our massive neighbours to the south. The Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) cannot compete with the lure of the NCAA. Notice how I didn’t have to explain what NCAA stands for?

Blue chip Canadian athletes barely consider entertaining offers to stay home to go to school. And why should they? NCAA division and division 2 schools offer young men and women immeasurably more exposure and the chance to compete against the best athletes in the world. CIS athletes have to fight for exposure and play against the best athletes that aren’t good enough for the NCAA.

So how do we stop this? A former coach of the Canadian Basketball team, Ken Shields, proposes a scholarship system that can actually compete with the NCAA’s full ride.

“[Scholarships are] a baseline,” said Shields in an interview with the Globe and Mail . “If we don’t do that, we’re not in the game. My personal feeling is that we should create something special that is better than the NCAA in terms of development [of the athlete] and in terms of financial support as well. We’re not on the radar with a $5,000 sports scholarship.”

Shields has seen first-hand what this talent drain has done to the dwindling Canadian basketball program. He recently proposed a new system to athletic directors and CIS officials, but it was unfortunately met with a familiar response.

“It wasn’t received well, but we should face the challenge in front of us,” said Shields.

Until something is done, we can expect NCAA Bowl games to continue to be must-see-TV, while the Vanier Cup will still be barely televised.

Ryan Leclaire
Author: Ryan Leclaire
Ryan has been writing for 7 years and has been featured in Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Cottage life.
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