As I am writing an essay discussing college admissions, I have come across some of the key factors that often dictate students’ decisions regarding where they want to go to college.
Almost every list included some of the mainstays: social life, academics, career opportunities and all the other sought-after qualities of a college education. But there is one trait that is slowly creeping onto these lists: sports, and rightfully so, as college is a decision that should factor in so much more than just academics.
And the evidence shows just that, whether it be in Oregon or Auburn following the 2011 BCS Championship game or more recently with the success of Clemson and Villanova in the two biggest college sports – football and basketball, respectively – schools often see significant spikes in admissions following their athletic prowess. But why? What makes even those who have no interest in sports value them equally to their academics? Two weeks ago at the Rose Hill Gym, I understood this for the first time.
I have watched to Fordham soccer, softball, football, swimming, and more, but when the women’s basketball team took on Notre Dame in front of a sell-out crowd on Tuesday, I began to understand why students value sports so much. From the energy in the stadium to passionate fans who knew the players as well as each other, I began to feel so much of what makes college sports unique, not just through a television screen, but on the court myself. Then on Saturday afternoon – the final game for Fordham’s volleyball seniors – seeing the players walk out with their parents and the sadness at it being their last game on the court, but the joy they felt playing with one another.
Even though there were only a few students in the Fordham Fanatics Student Section and mostly families in the chairback seats, there was a standing ovation when Fordham pulled out the five-set victory with screams of happiness and a team celebration. Even at a school as small as Fordham, it is remarkably evident why college sports are so incredible. These players are a family like no other, eating, sleeping, practicing and doing almost everything together. When one teammate falls, the entire team does, and when one succeeds, everyone shares in their success, as does the entire school that stands behind them.
And for these kids, these four years of college may be the last time they ever play these sports again, making every moment count as much as the next. I have always known that these were the incredible things about college sports, that is why I am such a big fan of them in the first place. But to experience these games myself, I can only imagine what it would be like at some of the nation’s bigger schools and why prospective students value them so much in their college decisions.
And for those here at Fordham, I can only encourage everyone to get involved, because these experiences will certainly be missed when they’re gone.