A vote will be held this week to help push triathlon towards becoming a sponsored NCAA varsity sport. The first step in the process could take place this week in San Diego as the triathlon will be voted on becoming an official NCAA Emerging Sport for Women.
Gaining this status would mean for the first time collegiate triathletes will be supported by their school and could eventually become a NCAA Championship Sport. The Emerging Sport for Women category was established in the 1994 as a way to help schools find new and emerging ways to support women’s athletics. Past sports that have received the status and gone on to become championship sports are women’s ice hockey, rowing and water polo. If triathlon is voted in the triathletes will begin receiving minimum sports sponsorship and financial aid through the NCAA and their schools. If the sport continues to grow in both individual and school participation over the next decade it can become a championship sport.
It would also help to develop a younger crop of triathletes in a sport that is heavily dominated by athletes in their 30s. In promotional videos put together by USA Triathlon, female triathletes explain that by training and inviting athletes to start competing in triathlons at a younger sponsored level they can compete against some of the best in the world on the largest stages.
There are many steps needed to becoming an emerging sport on top of just the vote. Fortunately for triathletes, many of them have already been taken care of. Most of the support comes from USA Triathlon who already hosts their own collegiate competitions which has developed clubs at NCAA schools already since 1992. 20 schools are needed to begin the process, something triathlon has already far eclipsed with roughly 200 teams competing at USAT events.
While they don’t have high school support, something the NCAA looks for, they do have support from professional triathletes and are also helped by being an Olympic sport. Also, unlike many smaller women’s sports, specific rules won’t need to be adjusted or created since triathlon already has specific rules in place.
If the vote passes, triathlon will need to continue to grow across the country. An additional benefit the sport will have in gaining this is the potential to become self-sustaining. While nearly every sport outside of football and basketball fail to generate any revenue, those campaigning to approve triathlon have insisted that they can make money. This would happen through opening up multisport races to the general public to go along with a weekend of varsity races.
Votes will take place January 15-18 at the NCAA Convention in San Diego. Those interested can find more information at USATriathlon.org or by using the hashtag #NCAATriathlon on Twitter.
Triathlon has been approved at the D I, II and III levels of the NCAA and will be an official Emerging Sport for Women. Triathlon will be a fall sport and competition will start this coming fall in the 2014-15 school year. It has not yet been announced what schools will participate. Click here for more information.