Guardian wrote:The Tier 4 visa regulations, which apply to students from outside the EU, were introduced in January and provide a broad definition of who is considered a professional sportsperson. This can include anyone who has received payment in kind in the past four years for playing sport; has been registered with a professional or semi-professional team, including academy development team age groups; has represented their national team, including at youth level; their state or regional teams, including at youth level; or has an established international reputation.
For amateur sides that rely heavily on students from North America, many of whom have earned sports scholarships back home, this has proved disastrous. “To make matters more confusing, the definition of a professional is not about being paid; even having an aspiration to play at a professional level means you could fall foul of the rules,” said Alex Porter, Tendring Volleyball Club chairman.
Sad, but I suppose it makes sense.
The most extreme example of this that I'm familiar with was Tom McMillan, Olympic silver medal winner in the US Basketball team in 1972. His first year at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (1974-5) was also my first year. He played occasionally for the university first team but not when it clashed with his commitments playing in the Euroleague for Milan. He used to fly out Thursday evening, play, fly back Sunday evening or Monday morning. Not strictly kosher according to Oxford university regulations and towards the end of the season the Master of his college had a quiet word, the upshot of which was that he completed the final year of his degree over the course of three summer terms to allow him to continue earning megabucks during the basketball season.
The year before I made the first team as token Brit three of the best players in the team were playing English national league as one of the permitted foreign stars and being paid close to the the salary of a teacher. When I started work in London I played for the Tower Hamlets side in the 2nd division of the London League. Pushing for promotion the club paid two Americans to play and coach, neither of them students, so the semi-professionalism went down a long way.
If you think it is reasonable that foreign students not be allowed to get a waitering job to help pay their way (which I certainly don't) then I suppose this is a reasonable extension. But then what about graduate students who get paid to teach undergraduates or even just do marking?
If Hou Yifan wasn't a student would she need a different visa to play 4NCL chess? Would she need one as a student under the new rules? Which brings us to the most interesting question: is she going to play 4NCL? Has anybody signed her up?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.