It is incredible to think of the different accomplishments people take pride in. Some value art or beauty, others philosophy and still others material success. And then there are those who value sports. What separates a beautiful painting, they might ask, from a masterful pass through the lane in a basketball game?
I have heard several stories about what the program used to look like just a few short years before I arrived here in 2012. Some say that the entire program was in jeopardy of being completely cut not long ago. Others tell me that even when there was a program, not many non-athletes bothered to bat an eye at it.
Now in 2016, we have Blue Crew, great attendance at several sports related events, and — of course — the continued support of the Hoggies down at the rugby pitch. But eight years ago things were different. Drastically different? Perhaps not, but different enough to bring into question the ever-changing nature of this sports program.
Eight years ago, from 2005 to 2008, a University of Dallas English student named TC Fleming walked the Mall like any other UD kid. Fleming, a Dallas native, recalls struggling through the infamous Junior Poet class mandatory of all English majors, but his true passion always rested in sports.
Now an aspiring sports radio talk show host, Fleming is a minor celebrity around the Dallas metroplex. He works for the city’s clear-cut number one sports talk radio station — “The Ticket” — and is constantly present on air.
While he attended UD, the sports attentiveness was, as described by Fleming, “unaware.”
“People were surprised we even had [a program],” Fleming said.
The awareness of anything sports-related, Fleming said, was always relatively absent. Now well-known around the city, the former UD student is approached by fellow sports junkies on a consistent basis.
“I go out to bars where strangers talk to me about the [radio] station,” Fleming said. “Whereas no one had really even heard about it at UD.”
As a student, Fleming searched for an outlet for his love of sports.
“I was always trying to do something where I could find some pride,” Fleming said. “So I got it in my head that covering the baseball team was something that would make me happy.”
Fleming reached out to the sports editor at the time, who apparently worked with his roommate to cover the entire sports program for the newspaper.
“His sports coverage had very little to do with the school sports,” Fleming said. “I remember the first I read of his was the 2006 NFL draft, and he was just writing about what suits were worn by the quarterbacks selected in the draft.”
It was an idea that many (including myself) might find to be pretty entertaining today, but Fleming wasn’t particularly amused.
“I didn’t think it was that great,” Fleming said. “I was really enchanted with the idea of writing game recaps of games that happened here at UD.”
“Enchanted” with game recaps at UD. I may be wrong, but I assume not too many people at UD today would be “enchanted” with game recaps, even the most passionate sports fan.
At a time when the sports program was apparently unnoticed, Fleming found passion and pride in a subject he cherished. Eight years later, Fleming makes a very modest salary, doing what he loves and waiting for his shot to make it big time in the sports talk radio world.
Fleming’s passion for such a seemingly mundane topic and subsequent career in the sports talk radio world reflects an interesting phenomenon that many people may take for granted here at UD. That is, in this crowded sphere we call the UD Bubble, there possibly exists a multitude of unique bubbles, filled with the TC Flemings of this world, each taking pride in something different than our usual consumption of liberal arts.
This is not to say that one respective bubble is necessarily better than another, but rather to make a point that these different spheres do in fact exist in the first place. The sports program, in particular, is an extremely diverse bubble separate from the ordinary culture of UD students.
People take pride in all sorts of accomplishments in their lives, whether it be a walk-off home run or an A+ paper. Fleming’s example illustrates that even here at UD, where sports are often buried amidst a heap of amazing books, pride can be found in all walks of life — even in the chaotic, challenging and often veiled world of the sports bubble.