By Nicolas Haddad
No question about it: it’s expensive to be a varsity athlete. As always, there are financial costs and they can get pretty high when the time comes to buy a new pair of skates or a fresh pair of sneakers.
It also comes with an important time commitment. There are daily practices, afternoons spent in the gym, weekend road trips, and inevitably, injuries that come from repeatedly putting your body on the line.
At Dalhousie, the Tigers have partnered up with companies like Adidas, Pepsi, Metro, or The PhysioClinic to offset some of the costs associated with varsity sports.
But some Tigers athletes are unimpressed with their look this past year.
Laura Brooks just finished her first year playing defence for the Tigers women’s hockey team. Even off the clock as a varsity athlete, she says she always wears her team apparel, especially her Tigers winter jacket. But it’s more about showing pride in her colours than keeping warm.
“I know a lot of girls [feel the same way]. I know it’s been the same jacket for a couple of years now though, so I think they want to switch it up and wear their own jackets now.”
According to Brooks, the novelty of their current uniform has long worn off.
“A lot of the first years and second years only wear it, I think the older girls are getting tired of them.”
There’s also the issue of the Tigers Adidas training kits. They’re the same across the board for every sport.
“Adidas is so soccer. All the varsity teams have the same jackets, which is fine, but I mean it’s not very hockey. I know the guys’ team actually has a better tracksuit. It’s Adidas too actually, but it’s another material.”
Laura Brooks, defence for the Tigers, talking about what she thinks of her team’s uniform and sponsors.
Adidas made headlines two weeks ago when, just ahead of March Madness, they unveiled new basketball uniforms for six flagship programs in the United States, including Notre Dame, Baylor and UCLA. Complete with kneepads, short sleeves and zebra-striped shorts, they’re a world away from the conventional style of a college varsity uniform.
If the Tigers Adidas kits look a bit generic, well, that’s because they are.
Adidas, the Tigers’ supplier for about 10 years now, has a select model of a particular uniform that they’ll adapt to all the schools that order them. Angela Barrett-Jewers, Dalhousie’s Manager of Varsity Marketing and Communications, compared it to buying a car: if you had a Honda Civic you bought in 2009, and now you want the new one, you’ll see a few changes of course, but it will mostly be the same as everyone else’s. According to her, the Tigers coaches have the final say for things like uniform changes, and the truth is, they’re far more likely to allocate their budget to hiring support staff, or travelling to tournaments.
She says the times have changed from when she played varsity volleyball for the Tigers. “Everything that wasn’t my uniform, I paid for myself.”
Compare that with Brooks, who doesn’t pay for her uniform, and can ask her coach to pay for up to two name-brand hockey sticks a year, and one pair of skates over her 5 years playing varsity hockey.
It shows that athletic sponsorship has actually allowed for improvement in how Dalhousie’s varsity sportsmen and women go through their experience. Laura Brooks said she was so thankful for her team’s sponsors, she would probably prefer them over other brands.
According to Barrett-Jewers,“That’s the right answer. ‘Tiger pride’ can also mean reaching for a Pepsi instead of a Coke. In the end, these companies need to make money, and this kind of loyalty goes a long way.”