We at the University of Dallas tend to pride ourselves in a kind of interdisciplinary dialogue particular to this school. Theology finds a place in the biology classroom, and physics finds itself in the philosophy department. We bear witness to the universal nature of Truth, our fundamental belief that all knowledge is intelligible in one universal vision.
This comprehensive outlook on knowledge lies in stark contrast to our secular counterparts, where the fragmentation of knowledge is normative. Perhaps we have lost sight of how amazing this aspect of UD exceptionalism really is.
I think it needs to be acknowledged, though, that our interdisciplinary dialogue does not go far enough. While our dialogue reconciles the knowledge of different disciplines of the mind, we stop short of the body. Athletics need a place in our comprehensive perspective.
The problem with priding ourselves in an interdisciplinary dialogue that excludes athletics is that, as most UD students will be able to tell you, we are beings endowed with both a body and a soul. Our external bodily order and discipline corresponds to the internal order and discipline of our soul.
Though we might wish that we could be at peak fitness and not feel the physical pain of training, or that we could be a busy-body and not feel the restlessness of our soul, we find that our body and soul are inseparable. To talk about the soul and not the body is to disregard the human person as a whole.
This is exactly the problem we face when we attempt to have an integrative vision at UD, but leave athletics out of the picture.
While we might be able to grasp this concept intellectually, it asks the very real question of what we can do about it on UD’s campus and in UD culture.
I think that the fantastic coaches, staff and athletes here on campus would agree with me that we could strive towards two things to make UD’s comprehensive vision truly more comprehensive.
Firstly, UD culture needs to take pride in the athletics program. The athletes on the field wear a jersey that represents the mission we all stand for: the mission of UD. As spectators, that’s our jersey, too, so we should be invested in the game right along with the players.
Secondly, if UD is to have an integrated culture, we cannot stigmatize student athletes. Since UD is a NCAA division three school, athletes come to UD for the intersection of academics and athletics. All too often athlete stereotypes suffocate this vision.
I think that UD should be proud of that the comprehensive vision of academics upon which it was founded has deepened through its existence. But I do not think that its vision will be truly human until it includes athletics and runs with it.