In solidarity with Indigenous communities, student athletes say they want to be known only as ‘the Rams’
All of the university’s varsity sports teams have said they won’t compete this year under the name “Ryerson.”
In a statement released Thursday to On The Record, Ryerson’s athletics and recreation department said many of the teams will play their games with only the “R” logo on their uniforms after numerous Rams student-athletes removed the Ryerson name from their social media handles.
The statement also said the department has not mandated that teams change their name. But it said it stands behind the student athletes in their decision.
Along with all varsity teams changing their name, some competitive clubs, such as men’s baseball, have also opted to change their name.
The moves are among the latest taken by Ryerson community members as part of the ongoing reckoning with the legacy of the man – Egerton Ryerson – after whom the university is named.
On June 3, the women’s basketball team was the first to announce the dropping of “Ryerson” from its team name. In a statement released on Twitter it said: “As student athletes we stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities and will now go by Rams Women’s Basketball.” Other varsity sports teams, like men’s basketball, women’s hockey, and men’s hockey have all followed suit.
On Aug. 26, 2021, Ryerson University announced it will rename the school. The university said that a new name will be announced by the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.
The move came after the approval of the 22 formal recommendations to Ryerson University by The Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force. The report includes the recommendation of renaming the university and reconsidering the school’s mascot, whose name is Egerton the Ram but who is known as Eggy.
In its statement, Ryerson athletics and recreation said it supports the task force recommendations.
“We trust and support the unanimously-accepted recommendations of the Standing Strong Task Force and look forward to contributing to the next chapter, and moving forward, together” it said in the emailed statement.
Ontario University Athletics is the organization that governs varsity sports competition in the province. OUA president and CEO, Gord Grace, says that it is working with the university and its teams on the issue.
“We’ll be respectful of the plans of the university and we’ll wait for further guidance from them on how to approach this,” said Grace.
The Ryerson name still appears throughout the school’s athletics websites, OUA media platforms, schedules, games and scoresheets, and it also appears on some of the teams’ uniforms.
Rams hockey teams have already worn jerseys in the past that featured only the Rams ‘R’ logo and not the Ryerson name. But other team jerseys, such as those worn by Rams baseball and basketball players, feature ‘Ryerson’ spelled out on the front.
“They still have their name on their website,” Grace said. “We’d have to wait for more direction from Ryerson’s athletic department on how they would like to proceed.”
University teams are not the only sports organizations that are changing their names. In June, Edmonton’s CFL team rebranded itself as the Elks, after dropping the Eskimos team name last year.
Sports franchises in the United States, such as Cleveland’s baseball team and Washington’s football team, are also in processes to rename their teams.
Grace says the Ryerson name will likely remain on the OUA site and media platforms when it comes to designation of the team because the university has not officially adopted a new name.
“It does get a little technical. When you have stats and standings, you need to have something in the column that represents the school,” Grace said. “In the end, the university’s official name is still Ryerson.”
Grace says that, in the short term, the OUA is just grateful to be able to play university athletics this year.
“We’re just excited to be back playing,” Grace said. “We know that this is a sensitive issue to the university and to the student athletes, so we’ll be as respectful as we can as we launch our season.”
After the OUA cancelled all university sports-sanctioned programming and championships from March 2020 up until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, Rams varsity teams and the rest of the OUA agreed to return to a modified structure of play this fall. The first games for Rams teams in more than 18 months are scheduled to take place Sept. 25, when the men’s and women’s soccer teams play against the University of Toronto
With files from Donald Higney