"What's in a name? That which we call a roseIll-fated lovers aside, this famous quote got me mulling on CIS terminology; specifically how sports information departments and the media in Canada label and identify the eligibility year of a Canadian student-athlete.
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Juliet: Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Looking at various school websites; you can see that some schools don't use any specific words to describe eligibility. Others say rookie, first year, second year, third year, fourth year, and fifth year. There has been a movement in the past few years by some schools to use modified American terminology such as freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, and fifth-year senior. Even here, there have been differences as one school uses fourth-year senior and fifth-year senior as designations.
I think it is way past high time that the CIS mandate a uniform way of designating the eligibility years of its athletes and get rid of this confusion. I think it would be a simple thing for the CIS to do; and one that wouldn’t need a wait until their Annual General Meeting held each summer.
I prefer the use of American collegiate terminology (with some fix for the fact that CIS has fifth-year athletes such as fifth-year senior) as I think it is understood very well by Canadians who have grown up watching NCAA sports and it is clear in their minds that this terminology means university student-athletes.
Many would consider this is a trivial point, but I would beg to differ. Canadian Interuniversity Sport is still looking for a way to get out of the media wilderness in this country and one small way is to have a consistent and uniform way of naming its athletes. This consistency would bring familiarity to the media and fans and also stress the distinctiveness of the university athletein Canada and especially make CIS distinctive from the general hockey culture that is pervasive in this country.
It would be just one small step of the many that are needed to be done by the CIS and its member schools. But from small things, big things one day come.
(Mike Aylward was sports information director at Lakehead University for eight years. This is the first of his new opinion column on things CIS.)