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The story of a team that isn’t there

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HISTORY

As 2013 comes to an end, sports fans all across the country will be preparing for the United States’ largest and most popular sporting event: the National Football League’s Super Bowl.

According to a January 2013 survey conducted by the website Harris Interactive, 34 percent of adults who follow a sport listed professional football as their favorite, while the second most popular sport, baseball, amassed 16 percent.

In addition, 11 percent said college football was their favorite sport. In total, this amounts to 45 percent of adults listing some sort of football as their favorite athletic competition.

Yet for the last 45 years, Cosumnes River College has sat with a football stadium, but no football team to fill it.

From 1971 to 1978, CRC fielded a football team, but it was cut in 1978, and the school remains one of two Los Rios colleges without a football team.

In September of 2012, a renovation of the football stadium was finished, yet the only team to call it home is the Valley High School football team.

“It depends who you talk to, why they say [it ended],” said Jeanne Calamar, assistant athletic director and adapted physical education professor. “From what I was told, our district wasn’t going to have three football teams, one here, one at American River and one at Sacramento City. So they decided to drop football at our school.”

 REACTION

Ever since CRC’s football team was rescinded in the late 1970s, the idea of potentially reestablishing a football team on campus have been brought up many times over the years.

With the passage of time comes change, and so, is that idea closer to becoming reality today than in the past?

“I think football can be good in terms of raising school spirit,” said CRC Director of Athletics Liz Belyea.

One of the first and earliest reports about the idea of reestablishing a football team at CRC dates back to as far as the Spring of 1991, according to an article by The Connection.

Of the 67 respondents to the survey in 1991 about having a football, only 3 percent (two people) answered yes to the idea, while 85 percent (51 people) answered no, with 12 percent abstaining, according to the article.

One of the arguments against it at that time was that the current budget scenarios were not conducive to starting such a “capital-intensive program” and that there were more pressing needs that needed to be addressed at the time.

The article stated that “the football program’s cost could fund numerous other sports, much less academic programs,” according to that same article.

Pullquote Photo

“I love football, I think football is the ultimate team sport, but we would need a lot of money to start a football team.”

— Jeanne Calamar

Given that those were the opinions of that time, what do some of the opinions look like now?

Belyea acknowledges that there are benefits to having a football team, but given CRC’s current state of affairs, there are many obstacles standing in the way at the moment, she said.

“You have to have a lot of facilities to accommodate a football team,” Belyea said. “It would require a lot of money to get that done.”

Others like Cesar Plasencia, head coach of CRC’s women’s soccer team, said that the sports department can barely accommodate the teams that it has right now, so the idea of adding a football team is inconceivable.

“We don’t have team rooms and my team has to share locker rooms with the student body,” Plasencia said. “I just think that our college is a smaller college and we don’t have the facilities to fulfill the needs of a football team.”

Sports Information Officer Nicholas Podesta agreed, noting that most districts have just one football team among them.

Student interest has also come forward as a possibility why the school no longer has a football team.

With the most popular sport in the U.S. being football, it would be typical to assume that there would be strong interest in a football team at most, if not all, colleges in the country.

However, both Calamar and Podesta said they see almost no outwardly expressed student interest in a football team for the school.

“A couple students may go talk to Liz,” Calamar said.

Podesta stated that he preferred the school not have a football team, citing a desire to not stretch use of resources and students thin.

“[I don’t have an interest] because I’m assistant basketball coach and head men’s tennis coach … for basketball at schools that also have football, it can be very difficult sharing resources,” Podesta said. “Training rooms are always packed, guys are taking forever to get treatment, we would probably have to get a much bigger training facility.”

The large cost of bringing back a football team also presents one of the largest reasons CRC remains without a team, and while Calamar supports the idea, she is wary of the expense.

“I love football, I think football is the ultimate team sport,” Calamar said. “But we would need a lot of money to start a football team … I don’t know where the money would come from, especially with our budget crisis and cutting sections of classes.”

While faculty emphasized and focused on the difficulties of establishing a football program, students looked more closely at the potential benefits of a football program on campus.

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Oscar Reyes, 17, likes the idea and said that having a football team at CRC would get more people connected to the school and boost the camaraderie of the school.

“I think it’s positive, not only will people get more involved with the school, but they will have spirit and better represent their school,” Reyes said.

Halima Allahyar, 21, a nutrition major, supports the idea and said that it would help bring more attention to the school.

“To be honest, it’s a good way to get a lot of attention from the community, so I’m for it,” Allahyar said.

Malcolm Nash, 19, an electrical engineering major, agrees with the sentiments raised by the other two students.

“I think a football team would be great to have at CRC, [it] opens up a lot of opportunities for students who are looking to play football and give everybody who’s an athlete something new to do,” Nash said.

In a survey by The Connection, 57 percent out of the 200 students and faculty surveyed supported the idea of having a team.

 football graphic

FEASIBILITY 

While student and community interest for football at Cosumnes River College can be at any level, it is not the deciding factor. There is one thing that the idea will always come down to: money.

In an interview with The Connection in December 2012, Belyea stated that the cost of starting a team was around $3 million for “personnel, equipment and facilities.”

When asked about the figure again, Belyea said that the price has likely gone up to $4 to $5 million, in just a year’s time. She also said that football could not be added until other sports are added as well.

“We’d have to have other sports first,” Belyea said. “You can’t have a football team here and meet Title IX requirements without having more women’s sports to offset that and meet the interests of the area.”

While women’s sports currently have five teams, to the men’s four, the extra being volleyball, it is the number of players on each end who count to making sports equal for both sexes.

A football team would need a 53-man roster, and to satisfy Title IX requirements, women’s sports would have to be added alongside a football team to give an opportunity for as many women to also participate in athletics, which would drive up the overall cost to be able to start a new program on campus.

On top of the start-up costs of a team, the college would have to be able to keep up with the team’s cost year by year.

“It is the college’s responsibility to come up for a way for paying for it,” said Los Rios Community College District Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology Sue Lorimer. “It’s not just paying to get it started, but it’s paying so it can be maintained. Because obviously you wouldn’t want to bring out the team, and then two years later say you don’t have the funds to keep going and shut that off.”

Lorimer said it would be best for a college to have the initial startup money for a team upfront, but it is not a necessity, to show that they can keep a team for the long haul. Maintaining a football team would include having to pay coaches, buy safety gear and uniforms and pay for the athletes to travel, among other expenses.

American River College and Sacramento City College both have football teams, so a monetary  viability of a football team at CRC could be gauged from their programs.

“First, a community college football team does not make money, in fact, very few NCAA football teams make money,” said ARC Dean of Kinesiology and Athletics Greg Warzecka. “Football is not sponsored at the community college level to make money, it is offered by a respective college to offer participation opportunities in the sport of football.”

Belyea said that Cosumnes could not partner with another organization to get the money and would not consider charging an additional fee on student tuition, similar to the student government’s fee, to raise money for a team; the money would have to be readily available.

However, Lorimer said that while it is unlikely since the other colleges don’t impose such a fee, it is possible. Such a fee would have to be proposed and approved by the Los Rios Board of Trustees.

Lorimer continued to say that the funds that would start a team would come from the general college fund and that the process to start a team would have to come from CRC and go through the college president before being passed along to the district chancellor.

From there, there would be a discussion on how the team could negatively impact the other colleges before going to the Board of Trustees for possible approval.

Belyea said that there is a campus survey gauging what sports students are interested in, but would not reveal the numbers. She did list sports aside from football that students are interested in, including wrestling, water polo and track and field.

However, football—along with any other new sport—is not currently on the radar

“We haven’t had one for years, and we’ve certainly have been in a budget crunch and we’re not adding sports at the moment,” Belyea said.

However, with the popularity of football and a revived student interest, is it time to think to about it?

CRC Football

 

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The story of a team that isn’t there