Relay for Life in the gym? Hogwash, I say.

McDaniel College Gill Stadium

This Friday night McDaniel College will be hosting Relay for Life, the school’s largest student-run charity event. Each year volunteers make teams and compete to raising money, all of which goes directly to the American Cancer Society. Participants walk laps around the track for 12 hours, the idea being that at least one member from each team is walking at all times. At the same time there are concession stands selling snacks and drinks and other various fundraising activities, all to support the event.

Typically the event is held at the track. Makes sense, right? People walking, playing sports, etc. Sounds like a solid venue to me. Last year’s event was held in the gym, but it is important to remember that a year ago our stadium was undergoing construction for the new renovations, and thus it was essentially unusable. Last year alone Relay for Life, by taking place in the gym, raised significantly less money. Not only that, the event was not nearly as big of a community event because it was indoors, out of the eyes of campus members and the community as well.

Early this academic year (in October 2012, to be exact), the Relay for Life committee booked the stadium for this night, hoping to return to the old venue in order to make the event a huge success, as it has been in years past.

Three weeks ago the Relay committee was notified that a certain sports team would need the stadium that night for practice, and therefore they would have relocate Relay for Life entirely.

The athletics department knew for seven months that Relay wanted the stadium, yet they waited all this time to notify the committee that they would be requiring the field that night.

It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: hogwash.

Committee members scrambled to find alternatives. One student proposed a number of alternatives to the sports team involved, including moving the practice to an earlier time slot or moving practice to one of the grass fields here on campus. All proposals were turned down or ignored.

Does anyone else smell that? It smells like hogwash.

The proposal to move the team’s practice to an earlier time apparently was not plausible because too many athletes have class at that time. Okay, that sounds like solid reasoning. But let us note one other important thing: how many of you have ever had a class with an athlete where that athlete, in a heartbeat, skips class or leaves early for practice or a game? Hogwash.

The proposal to move practice to a different field was turned down because, to the athletes, the grass would feel different. Well, yeah… sure. Grass feels different than turf. But let us note one other important thing (picture me screaming this angrily): THIS IS RELAY FOR LIFE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. It is the largest charity event of the year for this school. This one night alone can realistically raise upwards of $30,000 for the American Cancer Society, and it has to get moved for the entire night because grass feels different? Hogwash!

I can keep going. One committee member proposed the idea of at least having the ceremonial opening lap, traditionally done by actual cancer survivors, done around the baseball field area, up the hill from the athletic stadium. This one got turned down, too. Anyone want to venture a guess as to why? The music that Relay would be playing during the lap would be too distracting.

I… how… wha – . I can’t even. I have no words. If I understand this correctly, this proposal was rejected on the grounds that music would distract a sports practice. If this was practice for a regional spelling bee or a yoga competition I would understand, but for sports?! An eight minute period of music during practice (not a game) would be too much of a distraction for the sport team. Hogwash.

The Relay committee was told that they were more than welcome to hold the lap on the track despite practice going on. But in doing this it is important to note that the cancer survivors would have to do so at their own risk. That seems fairly disrespectful, does it not, fully allowing a number of inspirational survivors, the center of attention for the night, to walk the track knowing full well that at any moment an errant ball could come flying at them from any direction? And at the same time, how much sense does it make that a song up by the baseball field would be more distracting than a number of cancer survivors walking the track while 300-400 students and community members watch and applaud loudly? Hogwash.

What does this all say about the values of McDaniel College’s administration and the emphasis placed on the athletics department? That despite months of planning and organizing by Relay for Life, McDaniel College will sanction this with minimal hesitation? That apparently a single sports practice is more important than a huge and unifying charity event? The school has made very public their goal to look good in the eyes of the public and of the community. Does this phenomenon say apparently a school athletic team’s practice better helps the image of McDaniel College than does Relay for Life?

Say it with me now, one more time: “Hogwash!,” but know that in all cases of my use of this word I could also be using another strong word, one pertaining to another, larger barnyard animal. One that begins with the letter “B,” and one that, colloquially, has a connotation that portrays anger and bad temperament.

Students, come out to Relay for Life in the gymnasium this Friday night, starting at 6pm. Come spend some money to benefit the American Cancer society. Greek organizations will all be there fundraising with games, food and activities. Various student committees will be there raising money as well. Let’s show this community what we as the student body are capable of, and let’s make it obvious what our student values are. We can still make this event an inspiring and successful night of fundraising and fun. But most of all, come help this be a night of hope for everyone affected by cancer.

12 Comments on "Relay for Life in the gym? Hogwash, I say."

  1. You are geting upset because they are not having Relay For Life outside? But lets assume that they do have it outside and the chance that it starts to rain or gets too cold then what? Then McDaniel will get some sort of complaint by the student body saying how its freezing and the school doesn’t care and they should have done it in the Gym…
    Seriously…is there anything you guys can’t complain about? Relay for Life can be done anywhere and it still does its purpose. If you guys want to do something more beneficial than complaining about the location of Relay for Life you should use that energy that goes into this and actually work on Raising more money…if you’re seriously that passionate about Relay for Life

    • There is a reason these events are held in mid-spring, the weather is generally pretty nice. I’ve done these events for 5 years now, and I have never heard complaints about weather. You hope for the best, but deal with what you get. I would hope people would understand that the cold or rain is not comparable to the pain and suffering caused by cancer. If it rains, people walk through it.
      My question is, will missing one practice really negatively affect the women’s lacrosse team’s season? I feel that the problem we are facing here is an unwillingness on the part of the Women’s Lacrosse coach and Paul Moyer (new at his position as Athletic Director) to compromise with a the Student run Relay for Life committee, based purely on a slight inconvenience. What’s more important? A stand against a leading cause of death, or one practice for a Division III women’s lacrosse team? It’s a shame.

      • Totally agree B. It’s absolutely ridiculous that this has to be inside. The relay for life committee is one of the hardest working committees that try to set up ONE campus wide event ONCE per year, and they are getting shoved in the background. Holding it at the outdoor stadium attracts people with the noise and lights, while the indoor gym muffles the sound of activity and is on the corner of the campus.

    • Today has a 0% chance of rain, but it has the possibility of being a little bit chilly so heaven forbid we would take time to raise money for charity. We should definitely just acknowledge the all wise and not extremely ridiculous choice of the almighty McDaniel. This choice has helped show that anything we do or plan ahead for that tries to not only raise more money for charity, but also gets a student population with low moral more active will get justly shut down for the practice of our amazing division III sports teams.

    • Matthew Love | April 26, 2013 at 9:25 am |

      Really more of a clarification than any comment on my personal feelings related to this article or issue. As a committee member I can say the only reason we were able to secure the gym so readily after being notified that we weren’t allowed in the stadium was because we always book the gym as a rain location, just to be on the safe side.

    • D, weather concerns are always taken into consideration. The gym is always booked as a rain location, no matter how determined everyone is to hold the event outside. That is simple logistical planning.

      We complain because of the manner in which the location came to be decided–very last minute, with certain members of the administration showing little appreciation for the concerns and appeals of the committee members. Had the issue of conflicting schedules been resolved months ago, the frustration would have dissipated and everyone would have carried on. But to have people who pride themselves in student involvement in service activities, who have name-dropped Relay when praising the decision to construct a new stadium, refuse to consider making concession for a one night event, the resulting dissatisfaction is understandable.

    • WOW I didn’t know all the details before but this is beyond ridiculous. If it were a game I might understand, but game schedules come out at the beginning of the season so that could have been sorted out way earlier. And saying no to alternate fields b/c the grass feels different and music is distracting? REALLY? As a college level team that plays an outdoor sport I’d expect their players to be able to deal with all kinds of playing conditions. I doubt every team girls lax plays in the season has a turf field. What happens when the grass on some other teams field isn’t to their liking? And don’t they play music while while thy warm up before games, or did they stop because that’s also too distracting? Doubt it. Practice is just that, PRACTICE so why is dealing with different grass and maybe some music a big effing deal? Can’t believe the coaches are that stubborn but even more that our AD can’t see through these BS excuses for the much bigger deal here, Relay.

      • As a matter of fact, every lacrosse team in the Centennial Conference plays (and practices) on turf.

        As an aside, I would put some of the blame on the organizers. Previous organizers of the event have been able to figure out a way to have Relay on the track FOLLOWING the practices of the athletics teams – also something that other institutions of higher learning have been able to figure out.

  2. The main issue has nothing to do with whether the event is held inside or not its the issue that the track was booked 7 MONTHS IN ADVANCE and then the athletic department decided to disregard the event and tell the students planning 3 weeks before the event that they need to move there location BECAUSE THEY HAVE PRACTICE. Seriously? Now there is going to be 300 participants or more crammed into the gym for Relay and only about 50 or more but not over 100 athletes occupying the field. Now someone please explain to me how that is fair to everyone who planned and fundraised all year for Relay?

  3. Things like this make me very glad that I transferred to another school. I am ashamed still of the poor choices that McDaniel is making. I am ashamed to tell people I went there. Sports practice over raising money for cancer? I think that some people need to get their priorities straight. While changing a practice would be inconvenient, like the article said, the athletics department had seven months advance notice. They could have handled this a lot than they did.

  4. Every student that I have heard talk about this is upset. I’m afraid some people might take it out on the team. Relay for life is still going to be an awesome time!

  5. Maybe if we had an indoor track, having the Relay for Life indoors wouldn’t be a problem.
    It still would be best outdoors though.

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