Participation in athletic programs reflects apathy


By Robert Clinton, Opinion Editor

For the second season in a row the Comet women’s soccer program will forfeit all of its scheduled games and the strange thing is, nobody seems to care.

It’s easy to point out sociological reasons as to why participation rests at an exaggerated lull. But these factors only blame student-athletes.

The problem with sports at Contra Costa College is deeper than societal baggage that students carry with them to the field.

All of the four women’s sports programs had participation problems during the 2015-16 year. The women’s basketball team finished its season with just six players.

In spite of low numbers, the team won the Bay Valley Conference, made the playoffs and former coach Paul DeBolt won BVC Coach of the Year honors.

In addition, men’s soccer coach Nikki Ferguson, men’s basketball coach Miguel Johnson and football coach Alonzo Carter all were named Coach of the Year in their respective sports in 2015-16 and their teams won conference championships and participated in the postseason.

Their success as coaches, however, shines a spotlight on the larger systemic problem regarding athletics on campus, a problem that has nothing to do with the players.

By the looks of it, LAVA Division Dean Susan Lee contributes to the apathy surrounding athletics on campus.

Library, allied health, vocational education and athletics are all part of the LAVA Division.

Taking a walk through the spacious new Bookstore, students would be hard pressed to find any evidence that there is an athletic department on campus, not to mention, a department with championship-caliber teams.

Recruiting in college sports is essential and for most schools their athletic facilities are the first stop on a recruiting visit.

The lack of administrative attention given to the athletic facilities here is a reason why many local athletes forgo CCC.

Does Dr. Lee get some nostalgic delight out of hearing parents tell stories of how Comet sports facilities have remained the same for decades?

To hear these comments from fans  directly addressing the lack of support given to the athletic department, the dean would actually have to attend some of the games.

In comparison, I have seen CCC President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh at games for all of the eight sports offered on campus — at least once.

Here, with outdated facilities and dilapidated equipment, the only campuswide recruiting draw is the family atmosphere available to students.

Outside of the athletic department, on the other side of the creek, student- athletes rarely receive any level of encouragement.

Teaching athletes to make due with what they have or learning to function on a shoestring budget are not successful recruiting tactics, yet, it is the truth when coaching or playing for the Comets.

It is easy to compare the plight of the athletic department to the successes measured in the culinary arts program, both of which fall under the LAVA umbrella.

Both departments have resumés ladened with success, however only culinary arts receives any modicum of support.

As it stands, the kitchen has more pizza ovens than the athletic department has ice machines.

That is two ice machines for over 200 student-athletes that put their physical health on the line for a department that treats their effort as an afterthought.

To be certain, a majestic train ride through the Italian countryside would inspire any division dean to invest in international cuisine. But how many pizzas are we going to have to make at one time?

In past years, Dr. Lee has traveled with the culinary department on its study abroad scholarship trip to Europe. This past year the destination was Italy.

The men’s basketball team traversed Northern California playing as one of the Elite Eight teams competing for a state title and not one administrator showed up to support them.

Worse, when they returned, it was as if it never happened. Nothing was even posted on the new $80,000 electronic billboard on Mission Bell Drive.

Athletic accomplishments at CCC are rarely celebrated by the campus.

The lack of support is reflected by the questionable health of the athletic department altogether. To inquire as to when the athletic department will be upgraded to match the rest of the campus contact the LAVA Division dean at 510-215-4908.