RecSports should work on improving its use of technology

Sam Thielman

Sports clubs are great, right? You know what else would be great? If UT RecSports devoted more of its resources to improving its website.

Sports clubs are a large part of campus life for many students. They give students a space to pick up that sport they dropped in middle school, try out that one sport that was always just a bit too far of a drive, or even just share their passion for a sport with other students. 

But the life of a sports club can be difficult. Fundraising, community service, making sure everybody pays their dues—there are a million and one things that have to be done, and they’re not always very streamlined. To help correct this and ease the burden on club officers, RecSports should work to improve its use of technology in order to help sports clubs with administrative work. 

“There’s stuff on the administrative and technology side that I’ve had problems with,” computer science alum (2019) Michael Tirtowidjojo, former president of the International Taekwondo Federation club at UT, said. “For example, everyone in the club has to fill out a membership packet, and (club officers) have no way of seeing who’s submitted their membership packet until it’s approved, which doesn’t happen immediately. It’s our job to get on to people to make sure they get this done, but we have no way of seeing who’s submitted theirs already and if one got rejected, then why it got rejected.”

To give another example, officers also have a hard time verifying that everyone paid the correct amount for dues. Booking facilities can be difficult, and sometimes operate on very fast turnarounds. 

Initially, the solution seems simple enough — bust out the torches and pitchforks, scream at RecSports to fix everything, pat ourselves on the back and call it a day. However, RecSports is already trying to do everything they can.

“(Officers not being able to check the status of membership packets) is just a current limitation of our system,” Chad Zimmerman, senior assistant director of sports clubs, said. “Membership packets as recently as five or six years ago were pen and paper. Five years ago, we put it on HornsLink, and two or three years ago we made this system. I would like for us to be able to show a pending status, but right now we have an IT staff of three individuals.”

Some old problems have also been addressed in recent years. Clubs have been able to collect dues online for several years, but issues arose when clubs wanted to charge for extra things like t-shirts or trips,because there wasn’t an option for that online and officers aren’t allowed to use banking services like Venmo. Membership packets are all online now, and members can customize their payments if they want to add or opt out of any extra purchases. But there’s still a lot to be done, and right now there just aren’t enough resources to get them done quickly. 

So here’s what really needs to happen: RecSports needs to prioritize improving its website. It should make an effort to expand its IT staff or enlist help from other UT staff with technical expertise —whatever they can to better accommodate the needs of club members. The people running these clubs are full time students, and don’t have the time or energy to burn on problems that have implementable solutions. 

Thielman is a history and rhetoric & writing sophomore from Fort Worth.