Spectators barred from Men’s Club Volleyball tournaments

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The Student Recreation center, located on the west side of UConn’s campus, is open every day from 6am-10pm for student use. The Rec Center, which opened in the fall of 2019, offers a wide variety of equipment, classes, and programs. Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

On Nov. 5, the University of Connecticut men’s volleyball team held an intercollegiate tournament in the UConn Recreation Center. This was the second tournament in the fall preseason for men’s volleyball held at the Rec Center, with the first being held Oct. 22. There were no spectators allowed into the Rec Center for either tournament. 

One parent spoke to the Daily Campus about their frustrations over not being able to watch their son play. 

“They didn’t allow students, they didn’t allow spectators, they didn’t allow anyone in the room while they were having their tournament,” said the parent, who wished to remain anonymous.  

Cynthia Costanzo, executive director of the UConn Rec Center, provided a comment on why spectators were not permitted into the tournament. 

“The building was not designed to accommodate spectators, and their presence in the activity spaces would create potential operational safety issues,” Costanzo said. “Our mission is to promote human connection and enrich the well-being of our community through physical activity. As we are committed to the spirit of our motto ‘Where the Student Body Develops we utilize our activity spaces to provide maximal opportunities for participant engagement.” 

According to the parent, this statement was very similar to the explanation given to them when they were wondering why they could not watch their son play. However, they did not find it satisfactory. 

“They didn’t allow students, they didn’t allow spectators, they didn’t allow anyone in the room while they were having their tournament.”

Anonymous parent

“We’ve gone to many different rec centers around the state … We’ve also gone to rec centers in Rhode Island, Roger Williams, we’ve gone to University of New Hampshire, and every time we go to these rec centers, there’s no issue,” they said. “You can walk right in and watch your son or daughter play.” 

Costanzo, however, said that it is impractical to assume all recreation centers have the same priorities. 

“Spectator seating consumes square footage that is not used daily and is therefore, not efficient, and was not a priority of this project. We strategically planned to maximize space for our participants rather than create a designated area for spectator seating that would not be used by our students to engage in healthy physical activity,” Costanzo said. “Each school is unique and makes informed choices to best meet the needs of their community.” 

The parent also said they provided their own seating and found their own space when attending tournaments at other schools. 

“We bring our own chairs, like lounge chairs, and we sit on them. We don’t need stands, we don’t need hot dog vendors, you know what I mean?” they said. “We’re very off to the side.” 

On Nov. 5, the University of Connecticut men’s volleyball team held an intercollegiate tournament in the UConn Recreation Center. No spectators were allowed into the Rec Center during the tournament. Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

Costanzo addressed this issue as well, saying that the floors could sustain damage from this practice. 

“In addition to the seating brought in by spectators being a significant safety issue as noted above, this seating is typically intended for outdoor venues, including grass field spaces.  It is not intended to be used on indoor flooring,” Costanzo said. “The seating will ruin the flooring.” 

The parent said that it was unreasonable to bar them and other parents from watching their sons play in the tournaments. 

“We haven’t had a home tournament in years at UConn,” they said. “I just thought that the Rec Center had a really small-minded view of what was happening.” 

The men’s club volleyball team had another preseason tournament Saturday, Nov. 12 at the University of New Hampshire. They will have their last preseason tournament on Dec. 3 at the University of Rhode Island. The official season will begin in the spring semester. 

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