In a community of just over 1,300 undergraduates, students tend to share similar perspectives and be very involved in each other’s lives as well as campus happenings. However, within the University of Dallas Bubble, there is another, smaller bubble: the athletics department.
“Athletics helps build a brotherhood or sisterhood-type culture within the locker room, but also creates a natural isolation from the rest of the student body,” senior baseball player John Howard said.
The tight-knit community of a sports team naturally predisposes itself to having a culture of its own. Perhaps, however, the separation is more noticeable at UD, where the school is already quite small and where there are few traditions or events on campus, so missing even one feels significant.
Between keeping up with UD’s notoriously significant academic demands, having two to three hours of practice a day and being gone most weekends for games, making it to these events can be impossible. Missing major events at UD can be difficult for athletes who want to experience school traditions and bond with other students.
While the athletes tend to miss out on UD events, the non-athletes tend to show a lack of interest in athletics.
“When you realize there are more fans there for the visiting team in the stands at your home games … this, despite many players’ denial, clearly has a psychological effect on everyone involved, from the players, coaches and even administration who may be in attendance,” Howard said.
Yet, despite the lackluster support, teams strive for camaraderie and do their best to stick together.
“This love and commitment I think is what keeps players coming back to UD despite a miserable athletic atmosphere around campus,” Howard said.
Head cross country and track and field coach Matthew Barber adds another perspective to the conversation.
“Rugby guys, the mainstage cast and crew, and student-athletes all have their own ‘bubbles inside the Bubble,’ ” Barber said.
He was quick to point out that missing out on a specific weekend or party is not the same as missing out on an entire school culture. While events like Oktoberfest and Groundhog are fun, they do not define the UD experience or take away from the education and friendships that are so important to being a student at UD.
“The fortitude gained from enduring … and accomplishing goals as a team is much more valuable than any single weekend spent at a UD party,” Barber said. “[Athletes] do not magically miss out on what makes UD great after missing one event.”
Outside of athletics, there are other people who can’t go to every event or activity. Many students work over 30 hours a week to help pay their way through school. The cast and crew of this semester’s mainstage, for example, were not able to make it to Mallapalooza.
Prioritizing athletics above a school event does not detract from the UD experience. Rather, it illustrates a certain type of commitment that takes self-sacrifice and an acknowledgment of the responsibilities that come along with being a dedicated athlete. Taking on a commitment and dedicating time to something is difficult, but it is a commitment that each athlete consciously decides to take upon himself.