Saturday, February 12, 2011
It's a subject that I am woefully uneducated about. That's not to say I don't enjoy it, it's just more that I don't totally follow it.
But the news about Cal losing their men's NCAA team has got me all salty.
It's a shame that NCAA is cutting their men's teams so drastically. But this is nothing if not old news. These teams have been on the chopping block for almost two decades. Some teams just take the cut, and fade into oblivion. Others fight back.
Arizona State used to have a wildly popular NCAA team. Started back in 1969, this team peaked with crowds upwards of 10,000 in the early 80s, before being cut in 1993. After being axed, a few of the starters headed off for greener pastures. But the rest of the team stayed.
Under the wonderful leadership of a fantastic man, and my old boss, Scott Barclay, the team registered as a club sport. Despite being a club, they still competed against many NCAA teams, and ended up winning the USA Collegiate Club National Championships their first year. Not a shabby feat for a team that had been axed a year prior.
Almost 20 years later, this club team is still very much in action. The question is, without the NCAA funding them, however did they make this happen?
So much of the credit goes to Scott Barclay. I had the privilege of working for Scott back in the day, so I saw first hand how much hard work went into not only owning a recreational gym, but also leading and maintaining a men's club gymnastics team.
"As a club, all operating expenses for the each season are raised through three sources: 1) through Booster club memberships and donations, 2) Corporate sponsorships and 3) Team fundraising events. Of these three, the team members themselves raise over 60% of the needed funds each year by hosting junior meets and clinics, setting up equipment for local junior competitions, building competition floors for local gyms and scoring junior competitions. These fund-raising activities keep the team busy throughout the school year. On top of that, they remain active in doing school and promotional shows whenever they have the chance."
These guys do not mess around.
I personally saw these guys all over town at different events. They supported the community, and in turn, the community supported them. Attending a home meet, large crowds would consist of people from all walks of life. Little girls would come to watch their coaches compete, and looked up to them as idols. Little boys participated in contests, trying to emulate the big strong guys they were watching. It was an all-around good time, and only a drop in the bucket of hard work that these guys did in order to maintain this team.
It never ceased to amaze me that restaurants on the campus of a notoriously slutty party school would sponser a men's gymnastics team, and hold successful events for them. But they would and they did. And people showed up.
The ASU women's team was the NCAA sanctioned team, so they got the big arena with all the bells and whistles. And at most home meets, you would see the men's team setting up, and helping tear down the equipment afterward. They didn't just help out the local women's team. A year after I moved to LA, at the Olympic Trials in Anaheim, I ran into these same guys, helping tear down the arena after the meet was over. They were everywhere, using their able and quite muscular bodies to make money to support the team they loved.
My question is, what is keeping the Cal men's team from doing the same thing? I understand that not every team is blessed with a Scott Barclay, and that's unfortunate. But surely there is one person, one person who is either on or involved with that team with the drive or determination to keep the team alive. And it will suck, because scholarships are lost, and funding disappears. But isn't keeping the tradition alive worth it?
I understand how overwhelming it seems, and I would be one of those thinking it's impossible, had I not seen the ASU men's team survive in front of my own eyes.