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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sailing Hits Economic Doldrums

According to Jones, sailing as a budget cut is a mere excuse
Photo by Jessica Hamilton
According to Jones, sailing as a budget cut is a mere excuse

Looking out the campus center window, what is the first thing you see? It is not the cars, the lawn, or the parking garage. It is the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean surrounds our peninsula of a university. That being said, it would seem fit that our school has a productive, active, and excellent sailing program. Hence that the word program was used and not team. As degrading as that may sound, it is simply stating a fact. After speaking with UMass Boston Athletic Director Charlie Titus, the campus body needs to understand that sailing is not one of the 18 varsity sports offered on the campus. “No such thing as DI sailing. The NCAA does not sponsor sailing as a sport. They have competed against other schools in regattas that have DI sports programs, so the people who don’t understand, automatically make the connection that they are a DI team, but that is not true” confirmed Titus. That is absolutely 100% true. There is no division one sailing, nor division two or three. Sailing is simply a club that competes against schools of all shapes and sizes. Sailing is a part of NEISA, and not the NCAA. So with this being the case, why can’t sailing be a major activity or club team on a campus that has its own dock and even lets Boston College use it as their regatta? The campus’ regatta or dock has been available for the student body to use for years now. As part of any given students athletic fee, it includes free sailing lessons, free standup and sit down kayak lessons, and even the opportunity to take a boat out yourself. That being said, the school has had a team or club here previous times; all in which turned for the worse. Titus is not questioning the schools competitive nature in the sport, as the school has done very well when in competitions, but the commitment and financial risk that goes on with having a team. According to Titus, any sport, not just sailing, needs to have things in place for years in advance, and not a year-to-year basis. Like with basketball and hockey, schedules are already made five years in advance. Where sailing falls short is that their equipment, coaches, and regatta fees are much higher than say uniforms and sneakers for basketball. “Scheduling and having coaches to recruit all has to be done for years in advance. In order to add another team it would be roughly $300,000 per team. The university cannot do one just for men, we’d need a women’s team as well. Do we have enough money to do one for both? Is there enough interest to sustain both? Facilities are an issue. Is our facilities big enough to support a full fledge sailing program? I don’t think we can do it at this point in time. Not more complicated than that”, said Titus. That would mean a grand total of $600,000 for sailing to be a team here. This for a club/ team that the administration is having a tough time seeing consistent interest in. However, former team member and current student Tim Jones does not see it that way. According to Jones, “It would seem that during these times the administration can point to budget cuts as an excuse for the cutting of any program not deemed worthwhile. This is the same argument that was brought up during our various meetings with the administration, its nothing new”. Jones feels as though this issue could be fixed and it could really be something special at UMass. “This is truly a shame as our campus is sitting on some of the best sailing real-estate in the country. The sailing team at UMass Boston was a prime example of the universities mission statement in action. Our team was the most diverse in the division one NEISA league (New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association) and we competed against the top schools in the country (MIT, Tufts, Brown, Harvard, BC, BU etc.)”. But, sailing is not a DI program, never was, and never will be. So who is telling the truth here? Titus does want sailing to succeed here on campus and he is pulling for them to do so. “I love sailing. Sailing has a natural environment sitting right out here. You see BC and their boats come here all the way from Chestnut Hill. It makes me mad, trust me. I think our natural resources here are great for it. There is tremendous potential for sailing here. It is just a matter of when and how”. That is the million dollar question. Does sailing need to be more supported by the administration or does sailing need to do their homework and show the administration that they are constantly worth being supported? Until sailing can give a reason to be supported, the school will just continue to say it was a budget cut.

About the Contributor
Andrew Otovik served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011