A new group has formed with the goal of saving Simon Fraser University’s football program and it’s made up of one of the most ruthlessly efficient demographics in society: moms.
The ‘SFU Football Mom Squad’ (SFUFMS) was formally established on the weekend and immediately extended an invitation for moms everywhere to support SFU student-athletes following the school’s recent decision to eliminate its football program. The group claims the decision was made without consultation or engagement of key stakeholders, including players, alumni, and donors.
“We have washed their jerseys, mended their wounds, and cheered them on from the sidelines,” the organization wrote in a statement. “We made pre-game snacks and post-game meals and offered advice, consolation, and encouragement from their early days on the field to where they are now as scholarship athletes. We recognize that our journey is not unique to football. Sports moms everywhere support their athletes daily, and we stand with them in solidarity.”
The SFUFMS also voiced their concern regarding a lack of “institutional accountability,” calling on SFU to address concerns with “clarity and full transparency.”
SFU president Dr. Joy Johnson met with the SFU Football Alumni Society (SFUFAS) last week regarding the cancellation of the football program. The school later released a statement indicating that they will appoint a special advisor to investigate potential opportunities for the future of the football program while reiterating that SFU will not be playing football in 2023.
The SFUFAS responded soon afterward criticizing the school’s review process for being “opaque.”
Back when the football program was cancelled on April 4, SFU claimed the decision was made primarily due to the Lone Star Conference’s (LSC) decision not to renew its membership beyond the 2023 season, leaving them without a home for 2024.
Athletic director Theresa Hanson admitted that the school did not formally request to join U Sports prior to the cancellation due to what she described as an “incredibly complex” application process. She also claimed to have met with “key alumni” of the football program before its cancellation was announced.
Five SFU football players filed an injunction last week in B.C. Supreme Court to reinstate the football program, claiming the decision violated a verbal contract stemming from their recruitment. They are seeking a court order reinstating the 2023 season and expect to be in court relatively soon.
There has been a groundswell of support from the Canadian football community to revive the program. The SFUFAS is holding a fundraising day on Tuesday, April 25 to support financial aid for affected players.
Among those who have publicly condemned SFU’s decision are CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, the CFL Players’ Association, B.C. Lions’ owner Amar Doman, CFL and SFU alumni Doug Brown, Glen Suitor, and Lui Passaglia, Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ president and CEO Wade Miller, and former Toronto Raptors’ head coach and SFU alumnus Jay Triano.
In the meantime, the newly-formed SFUFMS expressed their concern for the well-being of their children who are members of the now-defunct Simon Fraser football team.
“As mothers, we know firsthand the positive influence that athletics can have on a young person’s life,” the organization wrote. “We are deeply concerned about the negative impact this decision has had mentally, emotionally, and physically on these student-athletes.”