Uncertainty about sports hall schedules for next academic year. Photo: DUB

Associations fear more exams in Sports Centre Olympos sports halls

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Student sports associations received a letter from Olympos that seemingly told them the sports centre would be closed for about sixteen weeks next year, including the evenings. Olympos says this is a misunderstanding. The evenings will remain free, and the sports hall won’t actually be occupied for exams on all those days.

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Sports centre Olympos is the sports centre for many students in Utrecht. From basketball to Dutch sport korfball, you can find a wide variety of student sports associations (‘SSVs’). The associations are now panicking because of a letter they recently received from Olympos. The letter states that the sports halls’ availability for SSVs will be severely limited for the sake of exams. Exams have always been held at Olympos, but it now seems that the number of exams will severely limit associations’ freedom to play their sports next year. Several SSVs are asking questions. What’s the sports centre’s priority?

Numerous sports associations are telling DUB that they see the importance of having enough exam space for the university, but they think it’s incomprehensible that that is done at the expense of students’ physical exercise. Nearly all exam periods are marked grey in the letter, which seems to mean they are closed to training sessions and matches for these sixteen weeks. This is unacceptable to the sports associations.

External competition
Arja Mentink, secretary for handball association HV Beertje, explains the consequences this new planning would have for their association. “Firstly, this means our members will have far fewer training sessions. We don’t think this is fair, as they’re paying for a full year. We’d miss two sessions every six weeks, which is huge. Secondly, we also play an external competition throughout the week; we need a sports hall for our matches. We’ll get into trouble because some weeks will have to be cancelled, and we’ll get heavy fines from the NHV (Dutch Handball League).”

Black and white wording
The Olympos letter is about season requests for next year. The associations are meant to indicate when they wish to use the sports halls. It also includes a remark that they should take into consideration the fact that during some periods, UU exams will be scheduled there as well. In an explanation, Astrid Tonnaer from Olympos says the letter’s wording is too black and white. “The planning that was attached to the letter includes the ‘grey spots’ as the days in the UU exam weeks, meaning the days on which the UU is scheduling exams. That should have also included a mention that the exams last until 7pm. The evenings remain free for sports. Furthermore, not all days that are marked grey will actually have exams.”

Custom solution
This was unclear to most of the associations. Arja: “We assumed the information in the letter to be the full truth, and didn’t have access to that nuance. The sports hall schedule request for next season has to be done based on the information in this letter. So we had no idea whether there was any point to requesting a sports hall for other times, and if so, when. Moreover, the deadline for signing up teams for the competition has already passed. If this makes it impossible to play the teams matches, we will not be able to withdraw, or we’ll have to pay a fine. And it’s unacceptable for us to no longer offer this weekday competition.”

Tonnaer says exam schedules depend on a great many things, and it’s impossible to indicate at this time when it will and won’t be possible to play sports during that time. “We aim, as ever, to have as many sports activities as possible take place, and we’ll consult with all associations for whom there is likely to be impact, to find a custom solution.”

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