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Why don’t colleges support extreme sports?

The skateboarding and surfing industry is expanding endlessly, and almost all colleges continue to support team sports, while starting a Surf team is difficult at most universities. Skateboarding and surfing will be in the olympics soon as well. #sports #skateboarding #surfing #athletics #recruitment #college-recruiting #college-athletics


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Makenzie’s Answer

Fantastic question, Trevor. I was a student athlete in college for an unusual sport at UT- Austin (Rowing). The primary reason my sport exists at UT is because of Title IX regulations, as someone previously mentioned.

Simply put, Title IX enforces an equal number/ balance of male and female student athletes. Because UT is a huge football school with a large football team, they must include more women's sports to balance the ratio of male to female student athletes. This is why we have women's soccer, and not men's, and why we have a volleyball and rowing team. Most Power 5 universities have this- which is why you see more eccentric women's sports than men's (i.e. more women's soccer, volleyball, rowing, etc).

Most universities will prioritize the sports mentioned above (plus a few more) over extreme sports because of the lower resources, cost, and higher popularity compared to extreme sports. Money comes from donors (who mostly give their money to fund the most popular sports) and the revenue that comes from the school's most profitable sports (football, basketball ticket sales at UT for example) to fund other sports.

An extreme sport, like skateboarding, would require an entire facility to be built for practices. When comparing the cost of building a new facility versus buying a few pieces of equipment (for example, rowing would mostly need boats, oars, and rowing machines), equipment cost is far less. If you compare building a volleyball facility or soccer field versus a skatepark, you'll probably pick the sport that would have more fans to bring in more revenue.

Hopefully gives you a sense of collegiate sports and helps answer your question- I'm with you, though! I hope colleges will begin thinking about adding some new sports that are becoming more and more popular. Surfing would be really cool!


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Eric’s Answer

Trevor,
I am not sure of a one way answer. I have six years of being an Director of Student Activities which fulfill the role of an Athletic Direct. My role was researching and supporting the students with facts about certain sports. Here are the major factor to consider:
1) Other student who are interested in this sport?
2) Are there any clubs that have this as an activity on campus?
3) What do campus policy say about skate boarding or out in the ocean? For those institutions this applies for.
4) Insurance police: who will cover this individual or institution
5) What other sports have the highest insurance coverage and why? And where would skateboard or surfing fit in this clause /proposal?
6) Surfing has its on rules. Have to consider life guards, physical fitness, etc.

However, I am for students bonding together and fellowship of with a sport. I think if students want to do this and this will help increase student retention, explore laws of physics and support physical fitness then it’s worth looking into. I also believe in educating about this sport (skateboarding) as in a class to bring up the awareness and the dangers. However, what sport isn’t dangerous. I played in high school, college, and professional and at each level I have seen some events that has been very damaging. However, practice and preparation has decreased my injuries and my training also but I think this method can be applied to any sport but education is the way!

Check this out:
www.ncaa.org/about/resources/http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources media-center/news/committee-women-s-athletics-supports-division-iii-equestrian-proposal

I hope this helps and great question!
Coach E

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Kathryn C.’s Answer

Trevor,

I reviewed the previous answers, rather than overlap, I am going to take a different perspective. The short answer to your query is this:

1. College Finances
2. Liability of Extreme Sports
3. Sponsorship Conflicts
4. Limited Visibilty for Spectators
5. Competition from Main-stream Sports

Now, for a different take. Extreme sports are ideal to have as club sports in Universities. When I was an undergraduate at Brown University, in 1987, we organized a small club for Triathlon. In that club, I qualified for Collegiate Nationals in Triathlon, in my first Triathlon debut. This is not about me, however, I want to provide the alternative is: create an extreme club team. Win big and you will create a team that will likely achieve sponsorship, and represent your College on the National, perhaps, World level.

Be THAT person who breaks the mold. Trevor, extreme sports promote self-growth, awareness and exceptional ability to find flow.

Keep up your extreme sport—It will make you feel ALIVE.

Cheers,

Dr. Kathryn Wilder

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Caleb’s Answer

Trevor, I would say that most sports start to get recognized more from colleges athletics programs when they have years of successful club teams. I know that here at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, as an NAIA institution, we look at what types of sports are students are interested in and how they would/could match the NAIA sports offered. We just started and Esports program, which in many ways is because of a successful club program for several years. With no schools offering extreme sports right now, it will be very difficult to have it added to the varsity athletics program, however, club sports are something that usually just takes an enthusiastic student to organize a team and run with it. I doubt extreme sports will catch on soon, liability, insurance and lack of viable opponents makes this something that colleges don't really look at.

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Mynor’s Answer

I believe because it is not really part of mainstream media. Though the sports are growing in popularity it isn't as popular as the larger sports known as the traditional sports. For example, esports is one of the largest "sports" that is large and growing rapidly, yet it is not part of many college curriculums because it goes against the norm that is built in college; it isn't traditional.

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Dave’s Answer

There are a couple of big issues in adding extreme sports.

1. Most colleges are looking to add sports (if they are willing to add sports at all, some schools are dropping them) that are already sponsored by high schools within their recruiting areas, so you probably won't see extreme sports at the college level until you see them proliferate at the high school level.

2. Extreme sports are, in my opinion after 20 years in college athletics, increasingly popular because they are participant rather than coach/youth club/parent driven. But without coaches, clubs, and political infrastructure, it's tough to campaign to have your high school add skateboarding or whatever as a sport. Not only that, having a high school extreme sports team would really change the dynamic in terms of these sports... so even participants in these sports are somewhat leery of "joining the mainstream."

Until there is a grass roots push to add these sports, few Athletic Directors, who have no background in them and are risk averse, are going to want to stick their necks out.

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Cecilia’s Answer

Hi Trevor!
Good question! I had friends of friends that participated in the xgames and I myself considered trying to be a part of it years ago, but like you, I didn't see how it would be possible as there was not a college team or club I could join to grow my skills. So, I gave up on the thought. I now see how Xtreme sports continues to grow and your question is on point. I think that the "Xtreme" part is what keeps most colleges away. I think that concerns with insurance, liability, facilities and cost have everything to do with it not being picked up. Maybe once its in the Olympics things will be different. I'd keep an eye on it. In the meantime, have you been able to start a club for these to see the level of interest and access?

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Julie’s Answer

Extreme sports have just begun to be on the international scope. They are high injury sports and can only support the young (golf and tennis are examples of sports done by most of the population). This limits the number of participants. While gaining in popularity they have not established themselves with the NCAA. First a sport must become "emerging" and support a minimum number of programs in colleges. Then it can request actual NCAA status. The NCAA is not supporting too many sports that are male dominated as college sports have an over abundance of male domination and male funding (mostly due to football not having a female equivalent). Could happen but it will take a number of years and the work of a lot of volunteers. Stay tuned!


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Joelle’s Answer

While these sports continue to grow in popularity, universities won't take these sports seriously until the NCAA consider them a recognizes sport. With the current state, our country is, the universities are cutting sports, not adding new ones with the hopes of generating revenue. If you want the NCAA to recognize these sports there is a review board that determines such a thing. Your college or universities would have to submit a proposal on why the NCAA should recognize this sport.

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David’s Answer

I believe colleges first and foremost make sure Title IX expectations are met. Although extreme sports are on the rise I do believe due to the complexity of the sport it may be difficult to find instructors/coaches and it may be higher rates of legality involved.

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Joel’s Answer

Mostly because of money. At this point those sports don’t bring added value or $ to programs that are already breaking even. Only football brings in money. Basketball brings in some and those pay for all other programs.


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Anthony’s Answer

Trevor, I don't work for a college and I skipped college sport and went straight to professional sport so I can't speak to this question directly - with that said - I do specialize in influence. I don't necessarily believe that your question is the best question to ask because the answer doesn't get you any closer to adding extreme sports to college (which I assume is the ultimate goal). If I were you I'd ask "how can we include more extreme sports in colleges?" In this case, the NCAA has guidelines for Emerging Sports - specifically for women (Title IX).


http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion

Anthony recommends the following next steps:

Contact the Office of Inclusion and ask about the process to add an emerging sport.

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Ian’s Answer

Some colleges offer skateboarding, longboarding, outdoor games and surfing as an elective or minor. Also check into intramurals at your college/university. Look more coastal for surfing to be part of a colleges academics or sports department.


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Tariq’s Answer

I would say that one factor to consider is that skateboarding is still a relatively new sport, so there is a lack of recognition simply from its age as compared to more popular sports. I also believe the lack of support from institutions stems from the fact that a lot of skaters tend not to persue higher education, and extreme sports have a smaller amount of participants. One solution is to join/create more skateboarding clubs on college campuses for students to pique their interests.


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Mikey’s Answer

Trevor, you have a question that I did my best to find an answer from high school all the way to when I was in college. Skateboarding has been a passion of mine since I was eleven years old. Watching the X-Games was and still is a favorite thing to do! Along side that passion I found rugby. The last time rugby was in the Olympics, prior to 2016 Summer, was in 1924. Oddball sport rugby is, comparable to skateboarding/surfing or e-sports, and each have a niche audience. Skateboarding is now an Olympic sport yet it still is unfamiliar to a general audience. Skate and surf competitions are available to everyone but people will look past it if they do not understand what is going on in said sport. Finding support can come in many forms and I would suggest going the route of club sports to help gain recognition for skateboarding/surfing.

Alternatively to Title IX NCAA sports, club sports do indeed help gain traction for sports of all realms. Examples of club sports at my college included: bass fishing, rugby, rock climbing, lacrosse, fencing, ultimate frisbee to name a portion of the ones available. One thing I did, and I encourage you to do, is be apart of a Club Sports Board. This board comprises of all other sports that are wanting to be competitive but cannot be recognized, or do not have the support, as a Title IX sport. Club sports are a great alternative and being apart of the board will help in understanding of the workings of different sports needs and wants. Being apart of those conversations is what helps put skateboarding, surfing, and any other sports on the map. Along with the sport you want to help get recognition for, there are others that are doing the same. There are some factors that play vital roles in order to help your sport function well. Money allocation (where money goes, how much money team(s) need for their specific sport, etc.), location for practice (at school or a specific location that may or may not be affiliated with the school), what sort of liability/insurance is available for said club members, coaching expenses, and traveling expenses to name a few.

A personal example, E-sports was proposed in my final year of college (2016) to be apart of club sports. I was the only person, out of the entire board, to push for it to be apart of the rest of the club sports because I knew of the potential it brought to the table. Not a single person on the board understood or knew what that realm of sports so they opted for E-sports not to be apart of the club sports community. Fast forward to 2020, a lot of colleges, and even high schools, are recognizing E-sports as a club sport because of the popularity it has gained. Help people understand and recognize a sport for what it is, the value it has to you/community and you can find support.

In good manor, put yourself and the sport(s) you are passionate about out there for the world to see. Skateboarding in particular may not have the best image behind it to some people but that does not mean you cannot help those who do not understand see from a competitive sports lens instead of however they have seen the sport before. Best of luck to you on your future endeavors Trevor!

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