College Club Sports On The Rise
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - When people think of college sports, they often think of the NCAA. However, a new trend has begun to spread throughout various collegiate institutions. College Club Sports have risen in not only popularity, but also in numbers. Today, California State University Northridge Sports club coordinator, Nathan Warden, said sport clubs have continued to grow in numbers at the university.
According to the NCAA`s website, “more than 460,000 student-athletes- more than ever before- compete in 24 sports every year.”
At CSUN alone, there are around 18 NCAA sport teams which include men`s baseball, basketball, cross country and soccer to name a few. They also include women`s basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, and tennis amongst others. However, the number of sport teams dwindle in comparison to the universities 29 official sport clubs.
Nathan Warden has been the sports club coordinator at CSUN for three years. As the coordinator, Warden`s job consists of scheduling, hiring coaches, managing budgets, and advising teams on how to run their clubs. He said sport club teams are larger than the universities NCAA teams in terms of numbers.
“We`re bigger than athletics in terms of the student athletes that we have,” said Warden. “We have almost anywhere in between 800 to 1000 athletes every year between all of our sport clubs.”
Though both forms of athletics compete at the collegiate level, there are some key differences between them, particularly when it pertains to the level of competition.
However, the structure of both is also very much different.
The NCAA was founded in 1910. As a result, the association has had strict rules and a system in place that athletes, coaches and administration have had to follow for 109 years. Sports clubs on the other hand, tend to have a larger sense of freedom.
The student athletes and club presidents of each team have a say in the way their organization will be ran.
“At the sport club level, the clubs are managed and led by students,” said Warden. “The men`s rugby president, as an example, will decide who they want to hire as a coach and they will set the practices and their own game schedules.”
This sort of voice and freedom allows sport club participants like Eric Sanchez, 24, to manage the workload that comes with being a college student-athlete.
“It was more of a team decision in terms of what time practices would be,” said Sanchez, a first-year member of the CSUN men`s volleyball club team. “We never actually had conflicts with exams, unless you were taking a Saturday exam because most of our games are on weekends.”
Sanchez also said that due to the flexibility that club athletes like himself are given, they are allowed to miss practice without fear of repercussions, as long as they notify someone, and the reasoning is school related.
Though people pride themselves on earning scholarships and becoming NCAA athletes, sport club players have to make the team, pay fees and meet the GPA requirements set by each individual club.
According to the 2017-2018 Annual Report provided by CSUN`s Associated Students, sport clubs like the men’s volleyball club had 33 participants who`s dues were $575 for the year, while the women’s volleyball club had 19 active members who paid $275 in dues per semester.
As a result of having to pay to play, participating becomes a hobby rather than an obligation for these athletes. Sanchez said that although he doesn`t think college club sports are as important, he recognizes that participating gives students a break from school and allows them to represent their university.
“I don`t feel it`s that big of an importance,” said Sanchez. “Just because you have to pay for it. It’s not something you`re sponsored for, getting for free or getting any benefit out of. It`s something you want to do for yourself.”
He also compared sports clubs to the sororities and fraternities that can be found at most universities in the country.”
“It`s kind of like the same scenario as a fraternity or sorority,” said Sanchez. “You`re doing it to network, meet people, and enjoy something you`re going to enjoy for a long time.”
Though most high school athletes dream of becoming a division 1 player at an NCAA school and moving on to become professionals, there just aren`t enough spots for everyone. As a result, thousands of athletes are turning towards college club sports to continue staying fit, networking, and participating in something they enjoy.
Credit, Eman Boateng
Credit, Luis Zuniga
By, Luis Zuniga
Contributions by, NCAA, CSUN Sport Clubs, Go Matadors, CSUN 2017-18 Associated Students Annual Report, and the New York Times
Photo, CSUN Men`s Volleyball Club
Video, Eman Boateng