Club and Intramural Sports Canceled for Fall Semester Amid Health Concerns



This fall, Eddie Harrison, GSBRH ’22, and the rest of the sailing team will miss their second straight season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


For the second straight semester, the Fordham Athletic Department has canceled all club and intramural sports on campus due to the ongoing pandemic. This decision affects a mixture of competitive teams and recreational leagues, but regardless of their affiliation, hundreds of students are set to lose yet another typical activity due to major world events far outside of their control. 

Interim Athletic Director Ed Kull made the announcement via email on Oct. 2. “The uncertainty of the virus and the inability to adequately monitor Covid-19 symptoms, including cardiovascular concerns, for all Intramural and Club student-athletes began to raise challenges. Ensuring your health and safety is our number one priority,” Kull wrote. 

Kull’s explanation for the cancellation seems to lack a single motive or reason, and the scheduled return of men’s and women’s basketball to Rose Hill further undermined the general message of caution. However, the decision regarding club sports is independent of any other in the athletic department for a variety of reasons.

Our team was certainly very upset… however we do all think that it was the right decision for right now. We would rather be able to take classes and be on campus with restrictions and cancellations, than be sent home because of relaxed rules and an outbreak. Kelly Mahaney, GSBRH ’22 and club soccer player

The first is the sheer size of the club sports and intramural programs, and this is what Kull was referring to when he was discussing the ability of the university to “adequately monitor” all athletes. The club sports program serves a large group of athletes who don’t belong to a varsity sport, either because their sport isn’t supported by Fordham or because they were not recruited to play. Meanwhile, the intramural program serves many students looking for more casual fun on campus with their peers. 

In order for two basketball teams to compete, a total of 32 student-athletes would have to be tested. These players would be traveling together in two groups, a relatively controlled environment for the university to oversee. However, for the club sports and intramural programs to continue, hundreds of students would have to be tested before any competition could commence. 

For many club sports teams, this logistical nightmare would be compounded by travel to specific events. For intramural events, Fordham students would mostly compete against one another but would violate social distancing guidelines in the process. They’re far less manageable organizations than varsity sports.

The inherent risks of carrying on with the season were immediately apparent to club soccer player Kelly Mahaney, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’22. After hearing news of the cancellations, she said, “Our team was certainly very upset… however we do all think that it was the right decision for right now. We would rather be able to take classes and be on campus with restrictions and cancellations, than be sent home because of relaxed rules and an outbreak.”

With the health of students in question, financial factors aren’t likely to have played a major part in the athletic department’s decision but certainly play their part in the larger picture. While certain programs, like men’s and women’s basketball, are major revenue sources for Fordham, club sports often cost money instead. 

In order for many of these teams to continue, they have to raise their own money. Ensuring regimented testing protocols, safe travel and housing, as well as hosting events for something that doesn’t bring in funds would be an unnecessary strain on the university in an already trying time.

The realities of this decision are clear and unavoidable, as has been the case in so many instances over the past eight months. Regardless, the fallout from this difficult decision will take its toll on a community of passionate and enthusiastic Fordham students. 

For the sailing team, it will be their second straight semester away from the water. Eddie Harrison, GSBRH ‘22 and one of the top sailors at Fordham, hasn’t been able to compete for Fordham since March. Speaking for himself and the team, Harrison said, “We’re all pretty upset and frustrated. Sailing is a big part of my Fordham experience, so it’s disappointing to not be out on the water enjoying myself.”

The sailing team is one of many that have been affected but is one of the few to have lost two seasons consecutively. Nearly an entire year of competition has been taken away from these Fordham students, and if solutions to the problem were insufficient months ago, then it’s unlikely that matters will ever be fully rectified now.

It’s doubtful that students would readily accept the health-conscious decision over the opportunity to compete, regardless of how serious that competition is. Some of these students play on a national stage, while others play with their friends on free nights. Now, all athletic outlets beyond the varsity stage have been closed off — another opportunity taken away by a seemingly uncontrollable world event. However, for a university in an uncertain landscape, the well-being of its student body must be the first priority, and in that sense, the athletic department’s tough decision becomes an obvious one.