Are college athletics as popular anywhere else as they are in the US?

I’m aware that many colleges throughout the world have athletic programs with numerous sports and other related activities for the students. However, are there any countries where the competition between different schools in a specific sport (e.g., football and basketball in the US) is as immensely popular (or more popular) as games or matches at the professional level? For example, in Britain the only sport I hear about in terms of inter-collegiate competition is rowing. Do they have any college soccer?

In most British college sports the players outnumber the spectators.

Not sure if they are college teams, but in soccer there are professional sports clubs in Latin America named after universities, that play on their campuses, and are the “official” team of that college. I am not clear if the teams have any students or not.

Canada has college sports but they are not followed very much. In hockey almost all the best Canadian players play in the junior hockey system which is sort of a minor league to the NHL (but the players don’t get paid. ) Junior hockey has a draft to put players on teams and they also allow trades - US based teams don’t allow trades. A player can play up to 9 games in the NHL and go back to playing junior hockey the same year.

That’s true of the OHL and QMJHL, but the level immediately below the NHL for most Canadians going to the big leagues is actually the AHL, in which players are paid.

The AHL is for older guys, the junior hockey system is for ages 16-20 which is closer to college age.

There’s inter-college pretty much everything, but as said, no one watches. The Blues match - Oxford v Cambridge in whichever sport has a certain appeal in certain sports to the public at large. The Boat Race is the most watched, I would hazard a guess. But that is really just because it is an excuse to get pissed on the banks of the Thames.

Second most popular used to be (and I assume still is) the rugby. Back when I were a whippersnapper at Oxford, the level of this was incredibly high - I think Oxford one of my years there had 11 full internationals on their team out of 15, including David Kirk, the All Blacks skipper. The match then used to sell out Twickenham, and was shown on live TV. I remember the TV rooms being pretty full watching it when I went elsewhere for my Masters.

A distant third in Blues matches would be the cricket. As cricket has become more professionalized, the standard of blues cricket seems to have fallen, and the status of Oxford and Fenland Poly has fallen with it.

I believe college football is relatively popular.

Plenty of young players play one or two years in the AHL before making the NHL. I’d say those who move directly from junior to the NHL are the exception.

That’s really the excuse for anything that happens at Oxford, isn’t it?

Other than the Blues matches, the only university matches that I think get any interest are the Combined University XI v (Touring Team) cricket matches. I watched Combined Unis v NZ at The Parks and there was a fair crowd, though obviously this was a result of locals wanting to see the NZ team prior to the Tests. And who can blame them: really, how many opportunities do you have to sit on the boundary rope to see a Test-quality team, even if they are playing against sub-county-level players?

That’s a blatant lie. For the rugby we got pissed at Twickenham. For May Morning we got pissed in Oxford.

I remember watching the Aussies play in the Parks, back when it was still just Oxford vs the convicts. We had a couple of cases of Cascade on ice, and David Boon was fielding at long leg just down in front of us. He put back more than a couple of bottles during the game. Happy days.

I believe players who play in the OHL, WHL and QMJHL (collectively known as Major Junior, or the CHL) do get paid a small stipend, as players who play Major Junior forfeit any NCAA eligibility. Cite

IME, the American system of colleges-as-minor-leagues is pretty much unique. Schools generally stop being the major engine of top-level sporting participation at about the same time that the law no longer requires kids to attend.

Most future-professionals are already several years into youth academies and the like by the time they’re old enough for college.

Canadian university football is reasonably popular, but NCAA football’s on another level entirely.

Since Canadian junior hockey has a draft players can be sent anywhere in Canada to play. If they are sent out of town they stay with a local family in the city where they play.

The other thing unique about the US and Canada is our pro sports don’t promote and relegate teams for any sport. Another place without relegation is Australia.

BTW, the NCAA is going to admit a Canadian school for the first time, Simon Frasier will be in NCAA division II.

Ditto for Australia in my experience of university sport.


It’s worth noting Simon Fraser was for a very long time a member of the now-forgotten NAIA, an American association of small colleges, but it dried up so they were forced to join the Canadian CIS. that was always their second choice, though, so once the NCAA allowed foreign schools to join, they were in.

Most Canadian schools do not allow athletic scholarships, so, like the Ivy League, they could compete in high level NCAA tournaments but wouldn’t have much hope in winning. Simon Fraser’s obsession with being in the U.S. system I don’t know the history behind, but it seems to be unique to them.

How unlike the game room to phrase something in a non-confrontational way. I guess that’s how it works when questioning Europeans. When you want to question Americans, the phrasing is more along the lines of Do US sports fans ever regret the absence of international competition? The obvious implication being that international competition is better than American national competition, and the lowly Americans just don’t know what they’re missing with their second-rate sports. So, do Europeans ever regret not having a robust system of college athletics? You guys really don’t understand the awesomeness that you’re missing out on. Poor neglected Europeans.

The NAIA is alive and well. It still has members that are small schools.

Various stories I’ve seen state the reason to be their desire to reduce travel. Most of their new conference opponents will be closer to Vancouver than the old ones, generally involving a bus ride to Alberta or even further for every road game.

The NAIA is still very much around, btw - maybe just their former NAIA conference disbanded?

“Obsession”? :dubious:

I read somewhere the Univ. of Toronto might join the NCAA - anyone else hear that?