Dreams of winning the Tyng Cup may have been shattered after a committee found four residential colleges guilty of using ineligible club table tennis players during the fall IM table tennis season.
Timothy Dwight accused Berkeley last month of competing with club table tennis players on its intramural roster, leading to a flurry of similar accusations between four of Yale’s residential colleges. According to the eligibility rules posted on the official Yale Intramurals website, club team members in any sport are not allowed to compete at the intramural level when no varsity team for that sport exists at Yale. Berkeley later accused Timothy Dwight, Saybrook and Jonathan Edwards of the same infraction. Points were then taken away from TD, Saybrook and JE, taking Saybrook out of first place and moving JE up to the top spot in the current standings.
Isaac Bloch ’12, Berkeley’s IM table tennis captain, said TD filed a complaint against Berkeley upon discovery that Kaiyuan Wang ’11 participated in club table tennis. Timothy Dwight eventually lost points in the protest process, as it was discovered that TD had club members of its own.
Head IM secretary Peter Jasinski ’12 said the eligibility committee, consisting of one IM secretary each from Trumbull, Ezra Stiles, and JE convened following the protests to assess their validity.
Bloch said that an informal agreement among the IM secretaries was made at the beginning of the fall intramural season that they would not enforce the rule regarding club participation for IM table tennis. Bloch also added that the club table tennis team is not competing this year and thus members of those teams should not be made ineligible for playing in intramurals.
But Jasinski said the eligibility committee deemed this “gentleman’s agreement” insufficient for the situation, partially because the agreement was not in writing, and not all 12 residential colleges were aware of it. Jasinski added that when the club table tennis team registered at the beginning of the year with the club sports office, it indicated that it would compete against other schools. He also said that the committee decided that any table tennis player on the club roster would be considered a member of the club team, regardless of how frequently or infrequently that person participated in club table tennis.
Following the meeting, Berkeley decided to also file protests against Saybrook and JE for having a club table tennis player compete at the intramural level.
“If people were going to accuse us at the very end of the season for this behavior, and since JE and Saybrook were huge- Saybrook’s number one player was the organizer of club ping pong- they should also get penalized,” Berkeley IM table tennis team member Jasjit Singh ’12 said. “It was a measure to make things fair for everyone.”
Ultimately, the committee took away the wins from club table tennis players in the colleges involved, but if the club player played first or second singles or first doubles position, then the games of other club players beneath that player would remain valid.
Jasinski said the end result of all the protests was a loss of 25 points for Saybrook, ten points each for Timothy Dwight and Jonathan Edwards, and zero points for Berkeley. Because of the point adjustments, Saybrook slipped from first to second place, while JE moved up to first. Berkeley took first place in table tennis for the fall IM season, Saybrook and JE tied for third, and TD tied for fifth.
Both Jain and Bloch questioned the timing of the protests, which occurred at the very end of the IM table tennis season.
“At the time TD brought up the regulations, we were vying with them for first place,” Bloch said. “The timing seemed counter to the spirit of letting everybody play and have a good time.”
Singh added the TD protests were a demonstration of unsportsmanlike conduct and a “sore loser” mentality.
Both Jain and Bloch said in their three years at Yale participating on IM table tennis and club table tennis, the issue of club players participating in the sport always existed but was never made an issue.
Bloch said that since a number of club table tennis players are active participants in the IM program, forbidding the club players to play at the intramural level would put the future of the IM table tennis program in flux.
For Jain, the entire ordeal was particularly frustrating because he said it ran counter to the very principles of intramural athletics. He said the entire Saybrook effort is based upon the spirit of the game, rather than technicalities.
“Let’s keep IM’s as IM’s, and not get into the technical aspects,” Jain said. “I can see how this could lead to animosity between colleges for no reason at all.”
Julia Cortopassi ’13, who plays IM table tennis occasionally for Saybrook but is not a member of the club team, said the presence of club members at the IM competitions did not make it overly competitive because each teams ranked its players according to skill level. She added that having strong players there actually improved the overall level of play.
“No matter where you go, there are always going to be people who are better than you at what you do,” Cortopassi said. “Sometimes they’re on your side; sometimes they’re not. It’s just a matter of how you make yourself better. Do you eliminate everyone who may be a potential threat, which is sort of what happened, or do you choose to compete with them?”
Erica Pool ’12, who goes to every IM table tennis match for Berkeley but does not play club, said it was “silly” to prevent people from playing a game they love for their college, regardless of club or non-club status.
Tom Migdalski, director of club sports, outdoor education, and recreation athletics said intramurals are in fact intended to be “friendly, fun, and informal.” He said, however, that conflicts inevitably do arise in the process of competition. He said Yale tries to keep these competitions as fair as possible, and it is inevitable that not everyone will be satisfied with particular rulings.
Migdalski added that the current IM regulations are currently under review, and the regulations will be adjusted if it will better serve the majority of IM table tennis participants.