It is unlikely there will be a Durham or UOIT football team any time soon, according to UOIT sports officials.
The OCAA does not have a football league. The Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) offers several sports to over a hundred schools across the country, but football has never been one of them.
There are 11 universities in Canada that have football programs, but UOIT is not among them.
Durham College athletic director Ken Babcock says the fees for maintaining a football program are “sky high.”
“I think the number one thing that prohibits football [in Canada] is cost,” said Babcock. “The cost of fielding teams, equipment, delivering the program, and insurance is the biggest thing. It’s down to cost. There aren’t many revenue-generating sports in Canada at the post-secondary level.”
Colleges and universities in the United States generate millions of dollars in revenue from their athletic programs. In Canada, post-secondary schools do not make this type of profit, Babcock says.
Canadians like their hockey and Americans like their football, but even Canadian college hockey does not generate the same level of attention.
Babcock says American four-year, universities are often the schools with football programs.
“Football is big in the States. It’s big in high school,” he says. “It’s modestly come back at the high school level in Ontario, but it’s not any where near what’s happening in the States where football is. They’re football crazy in the States.”
He says to keep in mind American colleges with similar budgets as Durham do not have football teams. Post-secondary schools in the U.S. tend to earn more total revenue than schools in Canada, according to Babcock, making it easier for American schools to launch athletic teams.
But Babcock has not ruled out the possibility of a football team for UOIT in the future.
“I think it’s a great, engaging sport for school spirit on campus and in a school,” Babcock says. “So, one day maybe UOIT could have football, but their enrolment would have to be pushing 25,000 to 30,000 students for it to be able to be funded for football. That’s kind of where its at.”
He says there could be many positives to having a college football team. With a football team, about 45 more students would be added to the enrolment every year. That is more total revenue for Durham, according to Babcock.
He says having a football team might lead to additional athletic teams launching. Cheerleading and touch-football are two examples.
At one point, the OCAA launched a touch football program for Canadian colleges. Durham was one of the final teams to stay in the league. In 2006, the league was closed. Four teams were not enough to keep a league functioning.
Scott Dennis, Durham College sports information and marketing coordinator, says Durham College is not the only post-secondary school to show interest in launching a football program.
“Sheridan College was talking about forming a 7-on-7 football league, but that sport really didn’t generate enough interest to develop a league,” said Dennis. “Tackle football, there has been talk about it in the past, but really enough teams haven’t been formed to come together to form a league.”
Lots has to be done before any kind of system can be formed. Teams need stadiums and equipment, while the schools would need more sponsors and donations, says Dennis.
Health insurance is another big hurdle in between DC students and a football program. Even football athletes at the professional level have issues with broken bones and concussions. It would be impossible to guarantee the safety of Durham’s players, according to Dennis.
He says launching a football program at Durham College would not benefit the school.
“Well, definitely football is a fan-friendly sport in the fall. Even with the universities in Ontario, you see that would be their most attended events, homecomings based around that. So, definitely it would generate some positive income for the college, but do nothing that would come even close for the cost of running the program.”