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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University. Wellington Vol. 23 No. 6 1960

Discrimination In University Sport

page 8

Discrimination In University Sport

Have you paid your Students' Association fee this year? If you have, don't expect that you wilt be able to participate in University sports, particularly athletics. Being a bona fide member of the Association is not sufficient qualification for the inter-Varsity tournaments.

Anomalous Conditions

(1) To be eligible for a tournament athletic team you must not have competed against a varsity athlete in outside competition, e.g., centre or national competitions, as a member of another club.

(2) If, during the summer season, you move to another university you are compelled to represent that university in preference to any other club, although there is some leniency towards freshers.

The point I want to make is that any varsity student should be eligible for tournament, providing his or her standard is satisfactory, and that the present constitutions end rules do not allow this.

"Little to Offer"

Many, probably most fresher athletes, are already members of outside athletic clubs, and in order to compete at tournament they are compelled to sell out from them. Their original clubs probably fostered and coached them for some seasons. Several notable New Zealand coaches strongly disapprove of the varsity clubs' rules, for when an unsuspecting fresher athlete is "persuaded" to change clubs his coach loses him, and all his hard work and planning is brought to a disappointing halt. If you have ever tried to coach anyone seriously you will recognise these sentiments.

It is understandable that an athlete who is dissatisfied with one club will join another to improve his or her ability. But this can hardly apply to the varsity clubs, for very little is done in the way of coaching here. Varsity clubs have very little to offer the serious young athlete because:

(1) The university year has ended before the athletic season begins and by the next year the season is almost over.

(2) Many students move away from Wellington during the holidays.

(3) Facilities and coaching are almost non-existent.

(4) The result is a poor club spirit and lack of enthusiasm.


No self-respecting athlete would change clubs just for the chance of getting a "blue." Why should an athlete be compelled to compete for the university in his home town when he studies at another university, as medical or engineering students do?

So the fresher athlete who changes his club has been "poached." The young athlete succumbs to the lure of a "blue," although for most this remains well out of reach. The varsity clubs are not interested in athletics as a whole or in varsity athletics. If there was a genuine interest there would be none of this discrimination between students. It is strange that such demands are made on prospective tournament athletes when so little is offered. Why discriminate against members of outside clubs when there is irregular, or non-exsistent, varsity competition during the summer? It would be a different matter if there were both a separate varsity and centre meeting each Saturday.

Cartoon of man running

Other Clubs Too

Although the case here is for athletics in particular, a similar situation exists in other sports, and it is my hope that the present anomalous situation, or discrimination against students on grounds external to the university, will be corrected immediately the new Executive takes office.