On dual-sport athletes

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According to a line delivered by Tom Hanks, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.”

When Hanks delivered this line in “A League of Their Own,” he was talking about baseball. All sports are difficult, however, and those who participate competitively in them are in a class by themselves.

Many athletes willingly subject themselves to physical torments and mental anguish that most other persons avoid like the plague. Many individuals injure themselves just thinking about a single push-up.

The only thing more difficult than playing one sport is playing two sports.

Dual-sport athletes are something special. Most athletes, particularly professional athletes, focus on a sole sport. This is because athletic jobs are extremely scarce, and to make it in the big time, one must be excellent at his craft, and to do this he must devote as much time, energy and effort as he can.

Dual-sport athletes also put more stress and wear on their bodies. They must practice for two sports, and they get less time to rest and recover since one sport’s offseason often coincides with the other’s in-season.

This is not to say that playing two sports is impossible. Athletes such as Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders had success as dual-sport athletes, but they are the exceptions, not the rule.

For dual-sport student-athletes, what is the reward for all these aches, pains, mental challenges and extraordinary time commitments?

For some, it is because they love winning and competing. Others want a better chance to accrue fame and fortune, and others simply love playing the game.

Here at the University of Dallas, I have known many dual-sport athletes. Most have a dominant sport that they play, such as basketball or soccer, but they come out during their off season and play something else as well, such as lacrosse or track.

This may speak more to how thin some of the UD rosters are, but nevertheless these athletes come out to compete of their own volition. They do not owe anyone anything; they are not being forced to do it. They could be doing anything else: schoolwork, partying or just generally taking it easy in their offseason.

But they do not. They take up a new challenge. And they do it because they want to.

I embrace my brother and sister Crusaders for their effort, commitment and sacrifice in their dual-sport pursuits. And I know that both they and their teams are better off for it.

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