C/O Jessica Yang

Not quite the average basketball game as tensions flare following a win, but what does this say about our athletics department?

The McMaster men’s basketball team has made quite the journey this season, winning 11 of their Ontario University Athletics league games, which ultimately qualified them for the OUA Championship. Over the course of the season, they played against some top-flight teams, such as Western Mustangs, Guelph Gryphons and most recently, the Laurier Golden Hawks.  

At their recent game against the Golden Hawks, the Marauders had a very unlikely ending that surprised many on stands and in the wider community. Nearer to the end of the game, when the Marauders were leading 75-70, a verbal conflict occurred between the two teams. The groups were shouting at each other just as the game was about to end, with the crowd spectating a very rare occurrence from the stands. It was a stressful experience with an unclear cause. Hopefully, with time, more details surrounding the event will emerge, although this will be difficult given that the conflict was censored over live streams.  

Although the OUA censored the visual conflict between the teams on their stream, shouting could still be heard from both sides, proving that there was genuine outrage after the last whistle on the court on behalf of the players. As the conflict died down, the Marauders claimed their eleventh win in the last game of the 2021-2022 regular season. However, this did not erase the serious conflict that had occurred. 

This incident raises the issue of censorship within varsity sport as a whole. The censorship of the event by OUA highlights their motivation to maintain a positive public image. While McMaster was not responsible for the OUA stream censoring the fight, when the Sil attempted to contact the basketball team for comment regarding the conflict, the team refused to speak until further notice.  

We have seen examples of similar practices in the past at McMaster, for example the allegations of racism within Marauders athletics. Many will remember the 60-page review released by McMaster University regarding racism faced by Black student-athletes. The review also showed that, throughout recent years, many athletes of colour have been ignored when asked for help. Indeed, many concerns regarding racism faced by students were disregarded, which only exacerbated the issue. This raises the concern that issues worthy of attention and discussion are too often tucked away in varsity athletics.  

There are other examples of similar behaviour within the athletics department at McMaster. Earlier this year, the Sil documented the unequal allocation of resources and attention towards less popular sports amongst student-athletes within the school. Many at McMaster believe that students on less popular sports teams should not be forced to pay to represent the school. However, McMaster has not addressed this issue or indicated that they will be altering athletics budgeting and allocation of resources to sports teams.  

The aforementioned issues in varsity athletics, including the censorship of the fight that occurred in the game against the Golden Hawks, deserve attention not only from the McMaster student community, but also from the athletics department itself. By ignoring issues worthy of attention, we risk contributing to pre-existing problems rather than finding solutions together.  

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