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Sport Taekwondo Recognized

By Jennifer Krishnan


More than two and a half years after they first applied for recognition, the Sport Taekwondo Club is finally an official MIT club sport.

The Sport Taekwondo Club gained recognition from the recently formed Club Sports Council last month. It is the only new group so far to earn CSC recognition.

“It’s such a relief,” said Timothy R. Kreider ’04, president of the Sport Taekwondo Club. “It’s been this struggle ever since I joined the group [as a freshman]. ... It’s like part of our existence that we’re not recognized.”

Though the club only gained recognition recently, members have been competing in Ivy/Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League tournaments since March 2001. Kreider said that members of the club attended every tournament this year, and the club sent an average of 30 contestants to each contest. He and founder Christina S. Park ’02 estimated current club membership to be about 50.

The Sport Taekwondo Club practices “Olympic-style Taekwondo,” Park said.

The fact that they train for competition is the main thing that separated them from the Tae Kwon Do Club and the Korean Karate Club, said Marita C. Barth G, a CSC officer.

Process reform causes delay

Park said she and Master Dan Chuang first submitted paperwork seeking recognition from the Association of Student Activities in fall of 2000.

By all accounts, the club’s long road to recognition was an anomaly. In January 2001, the ASA declared a moratorium on new athletic clubs, while a committee revamped the club sport approval process.

Prior to the formation of the CSC, some club sports were recognized by the ASA, some were under the Department of Athletics, and some were recognized by both. When the CSC was formed at the end of spring 2002, all these clubs were placed under the jurisdiction of the CSC, Barth said.

The CSC governs sports clubs that are primarily instructional or competitive.

Each existing club must reactivate its membership annually. This process now takes place during the spring term, and the CSC considers applications for new clubs at the same time, Barth said.

CSC clubs are a subset of ASA groups, Barth said. They are entered into the ASA’s database and allowed to participate in ASA recruiting activities.

There are currently 37 club sports recognized by the CSC. The CSC is also considering applications for two other new clubs, the Synchronized Swimming Club and the Running Club.

Students frustrated by delays

Park said that when they first applied for recognition, the ASA “deferred us ... telling us that we had to make some changes to our constitution.” These changes were “mostly cosmetic,” Park said.

She said they were also asked to meet with the Tae Kwon Do Club to consider merging the two groups, but that the meeting was largely unproductive and that they concluded that the clubs’ missions were fundamentally different.

Park and Chuang resubmitted their application, but “they kept deferring us ... then they pushed us to [the CSC],” Park said.

Park said she became frustrated because “we weren’t necessarily given the information we needed.” She said that the club submitted “about five or six” revised applications to the ASA, and that each was deferred for a different reason.

“I became very bitter and very disheartened” as the process dragged on, Park said.

Jennifer S. Yoon ’03, former ASA president, said the club was exceptionally unlucky because of the timing of its application.

“They sought recognition during the period during which we called the moratorium” on new club sports, Yoon said.

The club submitted its initial application in fall of 2000. The moratorium took effect in January 2001.

Yoon said that in general, the length of the recognition process “depends on how dedicated the students are. ... It can be as short as two weeks if they’re really good,” or it can go on for a long time, since “we have a six-week shelf life on every application,” and “every time they submit new paperwork, that six weeks starts over.”

Club had to prove uniqueness

Park said the Sport Taekwondo Club had to show first the ASA, then the CSC, that it was different from the Tae Kwon Do Club.

Yoon said that “when the purposes are so close and there’s just one small difference,” a new club might be asked to merge with an existing club, so that the ASA can conserve its “strained resources.”

Park said the Tae Kwon Do Club was “not supportive of us.” While they agreed that the clubs were not compatible and should not merge, “They didn’t feel we were necessary.”

Barth said that a club sport might not be recognized if it is “primarily recreational,” if it has “far-away competitions,” or if it duplicates the efforts of another group.

The CSC looked into whether the Sport Taekwondo Club was substantially different from both the Tae Kwon Do Club and the Korean Karate Club.

“What the difference came down to for us was that ... a lot of them [in the Sport Taekwondo Club] are learning to compete,” Barth said.

Leaders of the Tae Kwon Do Club could not be reached for comment.

Barth said the CSC was in the process of talking to some existing club sports about merging, but that that was a longer-term process. “It’s harder in the martial arts, [where they are] dedicated to learning a certain style.” Of 37 existing club sports, 12 are martial arts groups.