Champlain College: tradition and exclusivity within sporting events

Over the weekend Champlain College hosted one of the biggest weekends on its calendar – Bon Temps combines their famous broomball tournament with a college-wide dinner.

Champlain is a college rich with tradition. The broomball tournament will be 48 years old and for many is a highlight of the school of year. Traditions are the illusion of permanence and inherently fun. It is exciting and fun to be involved in a tradition and walk in the footsteps of those who came before you. It connects Champlain College of 1968 to today’s version.

For all the thrill that tradition brings there is a grey side. Tradition, to a certain extent, begets an air of exclusivity. You are either a part of the tradition or you are not. For outsiders wishing to be involved it is difficult to feel that you are welcome to join Champlain’s two cornerstone sporting events, the broomball tournament and the fall weekend Pig Bowl (football tournament).

A couple students told me they felt that these Champlain events are exclusive and they are left out. To a certain extent they are – they are meant for Champlain students. As Keeley Moloney, president of the Champlain Cabinet told Arthur, “These are events for Champlain students paid for by student levies so it is only fair that Champlainers get priority.”

From my experience no other college holds sporting events that are as popular as Champlain’s. For this there will be outsiders looking in who would love to play. The problems with these events aren’t systemic, Champlain allows players from other colleges to participate in the tournaments, but they must be on team that includes Champlain students. (There are other actions taken to make sure people are included such as off-campus reps and free agent teams).
The problem for those who feel left out are more social. Andrew Tan, a former Champlain cabinet member commented on this, “Most people don’t welcome at college events, except a portion of the first year students and those in the in groups of people who took leadership roles in the cabinet and ISW.”

The tournament teams are made up from group of friends that often surround the inner workings of the college and always around tight social groups. There are “legacy” teams which are carried on through generations of students where upper years ask promising first-years to join and carry on the tradition; teams such as the Angry Lumberjacks, which now have a 13-year history.

So the difficult part for outsiders is finding a team, being a part of a social group that will run a team for the tournament. Champlain’s events are particularly attractive because they are larger and well-established events.

“Perhaps it is because of the tradition that Champlain has the success with the events that it does, we have a head start on some other colleges in building traditions like this,” said Moloney.

This isn’t a new problem at Trent either, I found a story in the Trent yearbook circa 2000 where a student from Peter Robinson College complained that he was unable to join in Champlain’s touch football.

So is Champlain exclusive? Kind of. But they aren’t really trying to be.

I’m not sure what Champlain Cabinet can do about it either. I think a good step would be to acknowledge that their sporting events are a draw to students throughout the campus and open registration to all students (even if they have to charge students affiliated with other colleges). The cabinet is concerned about being exclusive.

Moloney said, “Every college has an image and I really don’t want Champlain’s image to be intimidating. I think we do a good job at being inclusive and welcoming people.”

She also said to contact her to if you have any concerns of your own about the matter.