On the bus? Stream the Jays game. In a boring class? Stream the Leafs game. On the toilet? Texans vs. Bengals should keep you occupied for the entirety of your stay.
Earlier this summer, Canada West TV, the home for university sports out west, unveiled a fresh new look to go with their brand new, pay-per-view online video streaming system for live games.
It allows students and fans to follow their school or team of choice throughout the season, similar to the rest of Canada. The only difference is that it costs money. Unlike the Ontario University Athletics’ free web-based broadcast (OUA.tv), streaming will cost about $5 per game.
While everything looks great, I cannot help but worry that this could bring on some negative consequences.
The sports fanatic in 2017 is much different from those of past years. As the world has evolved into a whirlwind of social media and smartphones, so have sports fans. Nowadays, every sports fan requires up-to-the-minute updates, as well as access to sporting events whenever they want.
Simply put, that means easy and accessible streaming. Sports fans do not even need cable anymore. They can whip their laptops out and watch whatever they want, from wherever they want, as long as they have internet.
As one of the most populated cities in North America, Toronto is as sports-crazed as any city in the continent. While that means good business for Toronto’s sports scene, it doesn’t necessarily extend to university athletics.
This is not the United States. Stadiums are not sold out for college hockey games and the entire world is not glued to their TVs over a nation-wide basketball tournament. We love our Rams, but they are not exactly an untouchable mega draw.
That is why the proposition of asking students to pay for streaming is so alarming to me.
Our athletes deserve our attention. They work hard their entire lives to get to the level that they have reached, and they represent some of the best talent our society produces. Yet, they have enough trouble getting noticed without added obstacles.
Asking people to pay for university sports streams, regardless of the price and quality, is a problem. The cheapest people I know are students, including yours truly, and for good reason too.
Students have to pay around $10,000 a year, depending on program, for tuition. Rent is around $1000 per month if students choose to live close to school. And of course, students need to eat, among other things.
Add that to a hectic schedule, including school, work and whatever social life you can salvage, budgeting as a university student is not easy.
So forgive me for doubting that students will part with their hard-earned money in order for them to stream a game, when that money could go towards, you know, survival and stuff.
We live in a generation where streaming is so easily accessible that the solution will not be to just pay up, it will be to stop watching. And that right there sucks.
Sure, schools offer the ability to watch the games in person for free, but do you know what helps promote the game on the surface? Making it easy to watch the games online. This kind of exposure brings in the casual fans that may only watch a game or two, and helps keep the more hard-core fans entertained when they cannot attend.
Sports bring people together. Reality television will never have anything on sports because it is powerful, gripping and actually real.
When we read about an athlete’s incredible journey, it shows us the best in our society and gives us hope. It rewards the athletes and unites them with the world around them. Most importantly, it gives us something to care about.
Who knows? Maybe Canada West will usher in a new era of streaming university sports, where the service is so good that it actually highlights the quality of the game and helps university athletics thrive.
But I worry more that it will start a trend that will bury university athletics in a heap of emptiness and insignificance.
OUA, do not follow your brothers from the west.