A lot is being made of the University of Waterloo’s decision tosuspend its football program for the upcoming seasonin the wake of what is being called the biggest doping scandal in the history of Canadian university sports. Everybody seems to have an opinion on it, some saying it’s what had to be done and congratulating the university for responding so well and doing the right thing, and others calling it a ridiculous over reaction that’s ruining the lives of many because of the actions of a few.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp. Putting the entire team of around 62 on ice for a year because 9 people tested positive for drugs is to me kind of like trying to kill a fly with a machine gun. It’s a foolish thing to do, nobody with any sense would do it, and more than the fly will be damaged in the process. A lot of these kids are in university mainly to play football, and some of them have a decent shot at making a career out of it. Shutting them down in what for some is their last year of eligibility to play and consequently one of their last good chances to get looks from pro scouts is a horribly unfair thing to do and completely flies in the face of what universities and colleges are supposed to exist for, giving their students/customers every advantage possible in terms of making a living out of whatever path they choose.
What I don’t understand is what it is that makes this situation different from anything else that can go wrong in a university setting. If 9 or 10 people in a class of 100 cheat on a French exam, does the school brass fail everyone and shut down the language arts department for a year? No. The guilty parties are dealt with and everybody else moves on with life, still able to pursue their degrees. Or taking it out into the “real world”, when Major League Baseball figured out that hey, we’ve got a steroid problem here, did they pitch teams with cheaters on them out of the league for a season or worse yet, shut the whole damn thing down? No. They somewhat reluctantly introduced a testing program and brought in punishments for players who failed it. Everybody else was free to carry on business as usual, just like the innocents at Waterloo should be allowed to do now.
If the University of Waterloo truly cares about the welfare of its students, those responsible for putting the kibosh on the football program will immediately take on the job of making sure that every single player who wants to is able to play football somewhere else, or failing that, start writing refund cheques. It’s the right thing to do.