University should support club teams with excused absenses

By By Kelsey Price

By Kelsey Price

When it came to sports in high school, I admit, I was spoiled. I was released early for my track and cross-country meets and allowed to make up any assignments or tests I missed. Once, I was even allowed to make up a midterm to go watch the basketball team in the state playoffs. Even athletes on unsanctioned sports teams, such as lacrosse players, received excusals from school.

However, as a writer here, I’m quickly learning the U’s policies are not so lenient.
Club sports are excluded from the U excused absence policies. Students who are absent because of officially sanctioned activities8212;band, debate, student government and varsity athletics8212;are allowed to make up any missed assignments or exams. Athletes on club teams receive no such guarantee.

Universal travel policies exist for varsity sports, but not club teams, which often causes problems for players when approaching professors. There is not a set procedure on club sports absences.

Granted, travel for any sports team at the U raises a variety of complications. Apart from costs8212;the football team pays up to $12,000 for buses per away game8212;travel can be a logistical nightmare for coaches, staff and players. Travel for varsity sports is arranged by the athletic department, but coaches and players arrange club sport travel. Absences for varsity athletes are automatically excused, but club athletes are left to hope their professors understand.

“We give club sports a letter for their professors when they travel, but that is about all we can do,” said club sports coordinator Susan Miller.

A question then arises: What happens when a tournament conflicts with Finals Week?
Men’s basketball players are excused for the midterms they miss during the first round of playoffs in March Madness. Meanwhile, the players on the men’s rugby team might not be excused for the Sweet 16 or even the Elite Eight of the national rugby tournament.
“Ultimately, it is up to individual professors to decide if club athletes can make up any missed work,” Miller said.

Each club sport deals with scheduling travel differently. The men’s water polo tournaments this semester fell during midterms, which required some travel adjustments for individual players. Rugby provides professors with a list of travel dates at the beginning of each semester.

“We’ve avoided most problems because we give professors advance notice and expect our athletes to be very proactive in addressing absences,” said rugby coach Blake Burdette.
Nevertheless, club sports deserve the same absence policies that other organizations on campus provide. Clubs such as Model Arab League, debate and chess all receive school absences, even though scholastic teams do not traditionally generate as much positive public relations as sports teams do for universities.

“If it’s a worthwhile activity for the university, I’m more than happy to work with students to excuse them,” said English professor Ann Engar.

With so many of our club sports nationally ranked8212;water polo, rugby, pistol marksmanship8212;they generate a positive image for the U. The least the university can do is help athletes work with professors to excuse absences, or at least let them make up work, while they represent our school.

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