As I watched the University of Dallas men’s soccer team compete in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament this past weekend, I was struck by the amount of support from the student body.
“Fan support was outstanding,” head coach David Hoffman is quoted as saying in the athletic department’s game recap. “The SE corner of students [was] amazing. I feel they helped the team and certainly made atmosphere. I hope to see them as UD soccer culture in seasons to come.”
The players all talked about how much they appreciated the fan support. In fact, after sophomore Hunter Haugland scored the first goal of the game on Saturday, he went straight toward the student section to celebrate.
Sports have always had a place in our society as a metaphor for life. They are used as an escape from the hardships of life and serve to unite people.
My favorite sports movie is Disney’s “Miracle,” the true story of the 1980 United States hockey team’s defeat over the Soviet Union in the Olympics, and winning the gold medal. The story isn’t significant because the underdog Americans were able to beat the dominant Soviet team, but because it brought the country together and gave them a victory in a time when we really needed it.
In 1980, the United States was in the middle of the Cold War against the Soviets and was dealing with economic hardships. The miracle on ice wasn’t important because the United States won the gold medal in hockey. It was important because it gave Americans hope, it gave them something to cheer about and it brought a divided country together for just one thing.
That’s the great thing about sports. The foundation of team sports is in bringing people from different backgrounds together for one common goal. In a larger sense, this can be applied to sports fans as well.
I’m not saying that UD is a divided community that needs something like the soccer team to come together and rally around. But rallying around fellow students isn’t a bad thing.
UD doesn’t really have a community that cares too much about sports. There are certain instances where students show up en masse to support their fellow students on athletic fields.
In addition to soccer this past weekend, when men’s basketball hosted the SCAC tournament in 2015 the Maher Center was filled over capacity, and the support at rugby games as the Hoggies made their run a year ago come to mind as instances of overwhelming student support.
But for the most part, UD students typically aren’t well represented at athletic events. This isn’t unusual for a Division III program, but for many students here, UD is a special place.
Students routinely show up to plays, swing dance performances, etc. Much like those performers, these athletes work hard at their craft. Big crowds energize them, and it makes all the work that goes into the product on the field or the court worth it.
That doesn’t have to wait until the team gets close to the final destination — it can just as easily happen on the journey.
Editors Note – The original post contained an error stating that the 1980 U.S. hockey team defeating the Soviet Union won them the gold medal. This is incorrect, as it was just one of the games the U.S. played in the medal round that year. The original piece had this correct but there was a mistake in the editing process.