The cry for a football team at Brock University has been a growing one over the recent years. In fact, I have actually been told by someone that their decision to not accept their offer to Brock was due to there being no football team – crazy, I know.
When Brock announced in 2015 that they would be constructing a turf field, which later opened in September as Alumni Field, the cry for a football program grew bigger. However, the idea of such a thing was quickly shut down by school officials.
The possibility a football team could play on Alumni Field is there, as the field measures 69 metres by 109 metres. I’m no mathematician, but if you move some lines around on the field, it could possibly work. Then again, I’m here to tell you Brock is perfectly fine without a football program, at least for the time being.
And please, hear me out.
Athletics at a school begins with the students. Until Brock students are willing to get behind the athletic programs that already exist at Brock, we don’t deserve a team. We’ve gone enough years under-appreciating the programs that already exist.
Students are unaware that Brock Wrestling has been dominating Canadian University wrestling since 1992, and is a top five program in North America. The success of Brock baseball, lacrosse, curling and rowing has gone unnoticed as well. Sure, some of those sports are not as popular as football, but they should get some appreciation and acknowledgment from the students.
Then you look at Brock Basketball: over the last couple years the home games of basketball have been selling out at a consistent rate, so the programs at Brock are starting to get recognized. However, Brock Hockey, the most popular sport in Canada, consistently sees a lack of attendance at home games. Yes, Brock Hockey plays off campus and it’s almost a mission to get to the arena. But what’s the excuse for Brock Soccer, Lacrosse and Rugby, who all play on campus. Those teams almost always have small home crowds.
However, the crowd is the last of Brock’s worries when it comes to a football program. Then again, most students argue that Brock’s Homecoming lacks without football compared to that of Laurier, Western and other post-secondary institutions. It’s true, school’s like Laurier and Western sellout their Homecoming football games, as it’s one of the most anticipated events of the weekend. Then, you look at the other three or four home football games for those schools and the bleachers are almost often empty. So the Homecoming argument becomes invalid, because for Brock to run a successful football program it needs to see crowds on a consistent basis, not just for one weekend.
The biggest worry for Brock however, is how they will fund such an expensive program. A program that will cost millions of dollars every year to fund, and then you throw in the decreasing enrollment numbers. It’s not just Brock that is seeing lower enrollment, but it is a factor across Canada, which means making starting any athletic program difficult, especially one that needs close to 100 students.
The most recent Ontario school to start-up a football program was Carleton University, who terminated football 15 years prior to the return in 2013. Financially, Carleton’s program is 100 per cent funded by Old Crows Football Inc., a not-for-profit corporation composed of former Ravens football players.
Since Carleton’s return to OUA and CIS football the program has posted season records of 0-8, 4-4 and 5-3. So there has been improvement over the three years, but it is still funded by an outside group – something Brock does not have.
Just in Carleton’s first year, the Old Crows pledged more than $5 million for the Ravens program, which covers operating expenses for the first five years. Then the Old Crows and the university put together a combined $3.1 million for renovation of the Keith Harris Stadium – Brock has no true football stadium.
Then we can look at Laval University, who’s football program started up in 1996: they get a large amount of their football money from corporate sponsors that are in charge of running the club. Since Laval’s first football season 19 years ago, they have won a CIS record seven Vanier Cup’s – thanks corporate sponsors.
I could then expand on the enrollment problems for universities in Canada, but I will just point you towards the Ontario government now supplying free tuition to people who can’t afford the expenses of university – just one way Ontario is trying to grow enrollment in post-secondary education.
If you’re still going to argue that Brock needs a football team just because of Homecoming, stop! If students want a football team at Brock, it has to see support for a full season on a consistent year to year basis. More importantly, Brock needs to get funding from outside sources and the difficulty behind funding is a huge reason there isn’t a program yet. Alumni Field might be able to support a team, but then again, there aren’t locker rooms big enough to support a football team at Brock. Expect major changes and upgrades to Brock Athletic facilities like Walker Complex before a football program is even introduced.
There’s no reason to completely dismiss a football program, as I’m not saying Brock shouldn’t have one. It is just that Brock is not quite ready for it and might not be for another 10-plus years. Facility upgrades, funding and year to year support (especially during the early losing seasons, which every new program has) are all factors. We as a Brock community will see a football program in the future, and the chances are a student or a group of students currently at Brock will probably be the future “corporate sponsors” Brock needs.