There was a bit of worry in the Nouse office last Wednesday. A certain sports reporter (who may have resembled me in pretty much every way) got slightly lost trying to find an away fixture and nearly ended up missing the match.
What made this worse was that the game in question was the Men’s Rugby 1sts against York St John and, even though it was an away match, it still took place in York. This almost left us scrambling to plan a revised lay-up and get a totally different report about another sport. When deliberating on how best to fill the hypothetical gap, barely relevant discussion amongst the editorial team ensued. It was at this point that the issue of sports being given different levels of priority occured to me.
A full examination on this subject would take far more effort than this writer really cares to expend, but a fair estimation can be made. For a start, one would assume that the University hierarchy would in some sense resemble a microcosm of the national one. If this holds true, Men’s Football would be by far the most popular, and sports like water-polo would find themselves in the lower end of the spectrum.
The question is how sporting hierarchy is determined on our inter-campus scale. We don’t have access to the media of television and widespread radio coverage, not to mention the levels of publicity that national sport experiences. University sport unfortunately doesn’t have television viewing figures and if any club could honestly claim that they regularly receive more than 10 to 20 supporters in matches aside from the grand events of Varsity and Roses, I would love to meet them.
Is the sport with the most students involved the sport that most people in the University care about?
By looking at the two news publications operating at York, the question can be raised of whether what appears in the paper is representative of what the students actually want to read or whether it’s just what the editorial team think people want to see.
A brilliant example is the last edition of Vision, with its almost entirely Alcuin-centric sports section. A quick glance at the editorial team reveals….you guessed it – one of the editors is from Alcuin.
Here at Nouse, we try to present what the majority of people want to read, hence the prevalence of supposedly popular sports such as Men’s Football and Men’s Rugby and Women’s Netball and Hockey.
However, we are open to change. If the masses want a particular sport given wider coverage, we will give it wider coverage. Also, if smaller clubs have a fantastic season they will inevitably gain more attention from the newspaper. Unfortunately, the feedback we get generally ranges from very little to absolutely nothing. This brings me to my next point, the shameless plugging of the Nouse website. New, revamped and begging for comments, you will find its URL plastered all over this edition. With weekly rolling sports reports to let you, our readership, dictate what is covered. Anyway, back to the original question and furthermore the point of this article.
The concept of ordering the hierarchy in terms of success would be a controversial one, not least because the fortunes of clubs fluctuate so regularly. If we were to utilise this particular method the first and second place would be reserved for fencing and men’s volleyball respectively with men’s football, despite an excellent start to the season, bringing up the rear with women’s netball. However, this method has a fatal flaw; it doesn’t account for the disparity in numbers involved in these sports at other universities. For instance, every University has Football teams, but I imagine not every one has such a large Polo club.
I therefore apologise for suggesting those clubs might be ranked near the bottom of the hierarchy, and admit that the subject requires more rigorous investigation than I have endeavoured to conduct. If enough people disagree with/are offended by my article, I might well do it. Although, to be honest, there will inevitably have to be a club at the bottom.
In the end, the intrepid reporter managed to get a match report on the Rugby written up and stuck on the back page of the paper and it all ended happily ever after. Which, coincidentally, leaves me just enough time to plug the website again. In case you missed it, its www.nouse.co.uk.