Vancouver, BC– Imagine you’re a 24-year-old U SPORTS football player, a pandemic hits, sports are cancelled and you’re told you’re not charged eligibility- but without knowing, you’ve already stepped off the university field for the last time.
When U SPORTS cancelled the Vanier Cup on June 8, the organization said that athletes who had their championships cancelled would not be charged a year of eligibility. However, it did not address the 25-year-old age-cap, which only affects football.
TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported that this rule will not be an adjustment to accommodate for the pandemic, spelling the end of 24-year-old’s university football careers. Josiah Joseph, who was featured in 49 Sports interview series post-cancellation announcement, spoke of how he would be very disappointed if this was the case. At the time, he was hopeful there would be an adaptation of the rule, however, the Vanier Cup champion has now been told he’s stepped off the field for the last time.
Players who turn 25 before Sept. 1 age out of university football. Joseph turns 25 on July 10, 2021.
While the age-cap is useful, it is problematic in this circumstance. The reasoning is to avoid stark differences in physical maturation, as well as team cohesion. It doesn’t make sense to have a 30-year-old graduate student going up against an 18-year-old freshman, and that’s why the rule was brought in. However, in a time where everybody is adapting, its a tough rule to follow.
While the decision is heartbreaking to those 24-year-olds in Canada West, OUA and AUS, RSEQ student-athletes may get a season, as the conference has yet to cancel fall sports. 49 Sports has learned that some teams in the other three conferences may play exhibition games, but none have been formally announced.
Interim U SPORTS CEO Dick White spoke to The Canadian Press, saying “The reality is the age-cap is 25 and it’s not 26 and somewhere you draw the line,” however, the board of director’s decision was not well received on social media.
Gord Grace, the CEO of the OUA, spoke out against the decision on Twitter and mentioned that his conference will be open to any possible solutions for the affected players. Other notably frustrated people included Rogers Sportsnet’s Arash Madani and president of Football Canada, Jim Mullin.
University football plays a major role of the lives and well-being of these student-athletes, and with the age-cap decision, the pandemic wins yet another battle, this time at the cost of U SPORTS football players.
Cover Photo: JONATHAN YUE/TORONTO OBSERVER