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What Are We Playing For?

All PostsSportsWhat Are We Playing For?

story Raeden Richardson

ICG 2014
Team Yale-NUS in action against the colleges of NUS in February 2014. (ICG 2014)

We are not NUS students. We did not reject prestigious universities across the globe, leave families on the other side of the world, tread the unbeaten path or bind ourselves to the Singaporean government to matriculate as NUS students. Our reason for taking these risks and dreaming these dreams is because we want to be part of something entirely different.

This is Yale-NUS – this is “one plus one equals three” – this is the opportunity to create groups and teams that will form a legacy beyond our years – this is a college where possibilities are endless – this is what we promised to pioneer when we pledged ourselves to this institution … right?

The most recent decision by the NUS administration to deny our attempts to participate in the Singapore University Games (SUniG) not only raises the ire of the “national athletes” the school advertises on websites, in flyers and at First Year Assemblies – young men and women who hoped their talents might be used in the construction of new Yale-NUS teams from the ground up – but is also a serious hindrance to everyone who aspires to make our college world-class.

The message from the distant figures at NUS is that their varsity teams deserve to have our champion tchoukballers, basketballers, runners and floorballers. The concerted efforts of our “independent, autonomous” administrators to appeal these jurisdictions have been ignored by NUS governors who appear to maintain a sense of ownership over student affairs at our school. Were these limitations relayed to our other parent in New Haven, it would be anyone’s guess whether this fits the development they intended.

Varsity teams are not only outlets for competition at colleges but they forge institutional identity. The athletes in these halls toil through gyms, tracks, physiotherapy appointments and summer vacations to get themselves in the best physical condition to play alongside their classmates and for their classmates – not for a separate university they have little or no emotional connection to whatsoever.

Our athletes should play for us. There is no simpler equation, not even “one plus one equals three”. The moment our students are told their talents are better suited to the societies at NUS is the moment when we necessarily bind our school to something we do not belong to – it is the moment our potential is capped and our wings are clipped.

The NUS Inter-Faculty Games (IFGs) are fast approaching. Our Athletics Council in association with the Dean of Students Office has accepted the invitation to compete. Though this is intended as a worthwhile platform for competition and the fostering of school spirit, it will be tough work shaking the feeling that in the eyes of the majority of NUS students and administrators, we are indistinguishable from the faculties of Law, Medicine and Engineering. One can only wonder who in the Yale-NUS community will find us inseparable from our NUS opposition too.

This is not the time to contribute to the NUS sports scene – nor has it ever been. This is the moment we must take serious steps in defining who we are, how we play and the ethos of our competitors. The best outcome for our school is a triumph in the IFGs, something that will remind the NUS administration just how markedly separate we are – and how much we deserve our own platform, our own league amongst the other autonomous institutions across Singapore. Though these questions of identity have arisen from the concerns of athletes, having these conversations and asking these tough questions is something every student in our school ought to do. The administration will make every effort to match our plight for independence but we cannot expect them to do the work for us. As our school grows, the onus is on the student body to craft its own image and to remind our parental institution that we belong to no one but ourselves.

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