Three and out
No room for football in ACAC
With all the enthusiasm surrounding the Dinos’ rise to the 52nd Vanier Cup, SAIT students are questioning why their school doesn’t have a football team to cheer for.
A stadium full of fans covered in body paint, wearing ridiculous outfits, waving flags, chanting and cheering at football games is how University of Calgary (U of C) student, Charlotte Jacobson describes the schools spirit.
Jacobson, a veteran member of the U of C cheer team, said she is constantly amazed at the amount of fans that are prepared to “brave the cold and support their team.
“Sports in general, are amazing for school spirit, but there is definitely something about football,” said Jacobson.
For the U of C Dinos, Jacobson attributes their large fan base to the success they’ve had as a team.
“I can say that it’s a lot more fun to cheer when your team is winning.”
The Dinos recently competed for the Vanier Cup against the Laval Rouge et Or in a major championship game televised on Nov. 26 on national sports stations .
“Football gets people invested,” said Jacobson.
“Football draws more interest, in particular by people who are fans of the Calgary Stampeders.”
There is a higher interest in football with Calgary having a national-level competitive team, compared to sports like basketball and baseball where there are currently no local competitive teams, Jacobson added.
“Games allow students to feel part of a bigger collective and promote school pride.”
Despite this, the Trojans and many other post-secondary institutes in the country will not get to experience this due to a lack of a football team.
SAIT is one of 17 post-secondary schools in the Alberta College Athletics Conference (ACAC), which has, historically, never had football as part of its athletics.
Formed in 1964, five charter institutions joined together to become the Western Inter-College Conference – later re-named the ACAC in 1969 – with basketball as the only “official activity” and seven additional sports labeled as “exhibition” status.
None of which included football.
“They could have, and should have had football,” said Mark Kosak, chief operating executive of ACAC.
“But, this doesn’t mean we would never introduce it.”
While the ACAC always ensures its traditional sports are part of the league, there is an opportunity to apply for a new sport to be added. Football has yet to be considered for a few reasons.
“First of all, there is a high start-up cost for both equipment and renting the facility,” said Kosak.
As cliché as it is, added Kosak, the ACAC needs to consider which sports incur higher costs and which ones are the best “bang for the cost invested in post-secondary athletics.”
Additionally, there is a larger contingent of student athletes on football teams, which means a higher cost of travel even if it could result in a higher enrolment in post-secondary schools.
But Kosak, who is a football fan himself, said that adding a sport into the ACAC involves assessing the demand for that sport before submitting an application.
“If it was brought to our attention that there’s a shortage in football in our province, we’d look into it,” he said.
Kosak said they’ve found students who attend technical institutions in Alberta, like SAIT, tend to join junior football teams like the Calgary Colts.
If they want to play, they find a place, he said.
The ACAC operates on a “bottom-up decision-making” model said Kosak, meaning they listen to the students and what the students want.
“If there are enough students telling us there’s interest, we would respond.”
In previous years, the ACAC has responded to demands for new sports like swimming, indoor track, and “futsal”. While the interest in swimming “weaned,” futsal – a form of indoor soccer – has seen an increase in popularity, said Kosak.
While they still have not seen a big demand for football in the ACAC, Kosak said that adding it to the league is not completely out of the question.
“We’re reactive and our market is students,” said Kosak.
“We’re not going to force a sport.”