Walking into the Wilkes House gym on Darling Street for the first time in September, a freshman should notice a number of things: welcoming purple and gold signage everywhere, all the makings of a brand new facility and a stack of fliers on the Hawk Desk. These glossy brochures filled with staged photos and artwork represents all of the information pertaining to athletics and intramural sports at Laurier Brantford.

Flipping through the booklet, prospective students will be promised by page after page that Laurier Brantford is full of athletic opportunities. Bright and dandy as it seems, the booklet fails to mention that intramural sports like basketball and football will inevitably be cancelled for 2010 – 2011 due to a lack of interest. That’s a harsh reality for athletically minded students who choose Laurier Brantford. The campus is already without varsity sports, and they’ll most likely miss out on intramurals too.

To see if these cancellations were unique to my freshman year, I began an optimistic search for students of all years who shared my concern about this issue. My research brought me to the Laurier Brantford Basketball League (LBBL) – a student-run basketball club taking place every Tuesday and Thursday.

Matthew Wright and Oje Izirein are the two Laurier Brantford basketball enthusiasts who created the club due to a lack of intramural basketball at this campus. Somehow, despite the aforementioned lack of interest, the Laurier Brantford Basketball League has found success.

According to Wright, one session had 40 people show up. Now basketball can be a full court game with as little as two teams of four. With a turnout of upwards of 40 people, ten teams can compete. Ten teams seem to be more than enough to run a league.

Both students strongly noted the need for an increased awareness for athletics on campus.

Wright also pointed out the need for more promotion on the part of the school.
“I don’t feel there was a large push for intramural basketball,” Wright says. “It wasn’t broadcasted properly.”

“Some students just don’t know,” says Izirein. “There is just a poster in the gym and nothing more.”

The bottom line is that with a student-run club like this being so successful and essentially acting as an interim intramural, there is room for basketball or football to be just as popular as hockey or soccer. Laurier Brantford just needs to change the way it promotes athletics. Intramurals must be a guarantee and not a year-by-year uncertainty.

Although they are doing a great job with LBBL, students like Wright and Izirein should not be left with a “we should just do it ourselves” mentality. The onus is on the institution to keep sports and athletics readily available.

This year, unfortunately, football players and basketball players alike have been left to band together and come up with their own solutions to the absence of their respective sports on campus.

For a growing school so interested in expansion, with talks of potentially housing varsity teams in the near future, Laurier Brantford must first support intramurals. If enough interest to run intramurals in two major sports is “lacking”, how can this school support a varsity team? Whether Laurier Brantford has the athletes or not is not the question.

“We’re here!” says Izirein. The real question is, can the school do enough to create a supportive environment for its student athletes?

I would certainly hope that, in the near future, Laurier Brantford looks to organizations like the LBBL as a testament to the fact that intramurals can and should exist on campus. The players are present and accounted for, what’s missing is a guaranteed place and time for them to play.

Not everyone plays hockey or soccer, and some students had opportunities to play varsity sports at other schools. Athletes at Laurier Brantford should not have to create their own opportunities to play and they shouldn’t have to do this on their own.

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