Yes, the pandemic has wreaked havoc upon college athletics. Indeed, The Chronicle of Higher Education recently noted that “even universities as rich as Stanford are dropping sports that don’t generate significant ticket sales or television revenue, thereby crushing the dreams of swimmers, fencers, and rowers.”
In this meanest of all seasons, who would have thought that the much maligned NCAA would come to the rescue of higher education? Well, the organization took a major step in that direction on Monday, when it officially approved the hybrid sport of swencing, in which two low-revenue sports — swimming and fencing — are combined in a single competition.
In swencing, pairs of swimmers face each other in adjacent lanes and race (using the sidestroke) while fencing. According to NCAA Commissioner Mark Emmert, schools that replace swimming and fencing teams with a single swencing squad effectively cut their expenses by 50%.
To be sure, there are a few glitches that need to be overcome. The major one, Emmert observes, is “blood in the water. If the competitors are using sharply pointed épées, and one of those babies punctures a vein or artery, you’ve got a mess on your hands. Of course, you could employ blunted épées, but our TV contract with Fox Sports stipulates that only stiletto-pointed épées are acceptable.
“Naturally, that raises the question of the occasional fatality occurring during a match, which results in a body sinking to the bottom of the pool while competitors in other lanes continue to duel and race. We’ve tried deploying strategically placed piranha to keep the bottom clean, but those feisty little predators can’t resist the churning legs of the survivors swimming at the surface. That only compounds the blood-in-the-water problem. In any event, we’re optimistic that this obstacle can be surmounted.
“To be honest, the folks at Fox see the piranha as a ratings booster. They claim that viewers will enjoy watching the competitors simultaneously battle their opponents and the piranha while attempting to win their races.”
University Life reporters attended a swencing exhibition featuring UCLA and the University of Florida on Monday, and dammit, Fox may have a point. Piranha-enhanced swencing ROCKS!