Seeing Trinity’s rugby teams battle it out in College Park has for years been part of the furniture of College. No matter the weather, the players can be seen at the heart of Trinity on their patch training or playing. The same goes for the clubs that use Santry Avenue or the Sports Centre or the Iveagh Grounds.
Trinity is not known for sport, but it is central to the spirit of the university and makes up a massive community of students – students who have hardly gotten a look in for the past year, with potentially devastating effects on their clubs.
The frustration surrounding sport during the pandemic bubbled up this week, when Student Sport Ireland called on the government to allow third-level sports to resume training by way of small-group activity and use of outdoor campus facilities.
While rules are rules, Student Sport Ireland’s frustration is understandable. Third-level sports have been largely ignored throughout the pandemic. While there has been constant discussion – right up to the Provost elections – of the difficulties faced by societies amidst the pandemic, student sport has not received nearly as much attention.
Without advocating for a relaxation of restrictions – this Editorial Board has previously written that science must always come first in such decisions – colleges must acknowledge that student sports teams have had as difficult a year as anyone.
Societies have had to shift to Zoom events, but Zoom training sessions are even more cumbersome. Both societies and sports teams are at risk of institutional knowledge being lost due to lower levels of engagement this year, but sports teams will have to start largely from scratch next September, after a year of dormancy. Furthermore, there has been little acknowledgement of the blow caused by the conclusion of Bank of Ireland’s sponsorship agreement with Trinity Sport.
Around the country, students and their representatives have been at pains to make known the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on student life. But why does sport never feature in the conversation?
Sports clubs – big and small – face massive hurdles in the coming year. College must at least acknowledge that Trinity’s sporting community may take even longer to recover than society life, and provide definite plans to support them next year.