I know what you are thinking: “How can sports be like schoolwork? They are two completely dissimilar things.”
Well, these activities are actually more closely related than one might realize.
There are many different kinds of sports, just as there are many different kinds of schoolwork. For example, you would not write about cell biology when studying the American War of Independence. Sports are the same way; you would not practice turning double plays for soccer.
But these things are obvious. There are more overlooked similarities between sports and schoolwork.
The first similarity is that sports and schoolwork are a matter of taste or preference for most people. Many people like particular sports, and could not care less about other sports; rarely is it the case where a person likes and proactively follows every sport. My father, for example, reads up on the New York Yankees every day and tunes into games every chance he gets, but he would not be able to tell you who won the Stanley Cup last year.
The same thing goes for schoolwork. All people have their preferences. Some people love math, others geek out about science, and still others recite poetry for fun. However, these same people can be bored by history, abhor writing essays, and not care about mitosis. Every person has subjects that he likes and at which he is skilled, as well as areas in which he struggles and which he dislikes.
Another big similarity is the effort factor. No one ever became proficient at sports by sitting around and doing nothing.
“Pistol Pete” Maravich spent over ten thousand hours in his adolescence practicing dribbling, something he became dominant at and famous for in college and the NBA. Derek Jeter devoted his maximum effort into daily routines to master the basics and fundamentals of baseball, and due to this devotion, Jeter went on to win five gloves for defense and become sixth on the all time hits list with 3,465 hits.
It is the same thing with schoolwork; you cannot possibly master or even understand what you are doing without practicing.
Louis Pasteur did not become a famous chemist and microbiologist without running experiments and making observations, and Socrates did not become renowned for claiming to know nothing without asking people questions.
You have to sink effort into anything if you want to understand it and master it.
Sports and schoolwork go hand-in-hand with each other. The lessons and principles a person learns in one very well may be applicable to the other. They are two sides of the same coin; one side is mental, the other is physical. They complement each other, and balance each other out.
And just remember, St. Francis Xavier was a fine scholar and a marvelous athlete. If sports and schoolwork were good enough for him, then they are good enough for us here at the University of Dallas, too.