US college sport not a possibility in NZ
An inter-university sport competition similar to the United States is impossible to copy in New Zealand, a director of sport and recreation says.
College sport plays a massive role in the United States, where students thrive on getting around their college teams and sports scholarships are a major part of post-high school education.
But in New Zealand no such culture exists. While there are university teams in local Auckland competitions - including a university cricket club and university rugby club - they field very few university students, instead just carrying the name and serving the wider community.
Associate director of campus life, sport and recreation at the University of Auckland, Louis Rattray, said the sporting system in America helped to create a tribal mentality towards university and New Zealand simply didn’t have the resources or the culture to mimic that.
‘‘American college sport is it’s own beast and it’s taken 100 years to evolve to where it is today,’’ Rattray said.
‘‘Every student at a college over there will have their university colours on. New Zealand will never get to the standard of American college sport just by sheer weight of population.’’
Rather than a regular competition, New Zealand has instead embraced one-off weekend tournaments that are easier to organise and get more participation. Coupled with that are inter-faculty competitions within the university.
These have helped foster an element of competition between the universities, and more students have been getting involved with sport.
However, Kiwi students still don’t turn out in droves to support their university, and that’s simply a cultural thing, Rattray said.
‘‘Look at the Blues as our franchise team, how often do they fill Eden Park? So to expect the college system to do that is totally unrealistic.
’’I just think there’s an apathy. If you’re not participating, it’s not really worth going.’’
Universities were also more focused on academics than sport, he said.
‘‘We have to be conscious that students are here to study first and foremost,’’ Rattray said.
‘‘If we throw too much sport into the calendar, it can actually compromise their academic achievement so we’ve got to balance that.’’