Why Play Division III Sports?
Most of us believe that a stout academic background is as important, if not more so, than an athletic career. With Division III sports comes a certain expectation that, as freshman basketball player Jack Byrne states, education will be “the top priority” and that athletic triumph should not be placed on a higher pedestal than academic success. We do not have to deal with a grueling travel schedule, nor do we have to worry about skipping an unreasonable number of classes for any athletic purpose. Yet, there is enough time spent playing a Division III sport that we learn how to hone our time management skills.
We play to be social. In other words, college sports provide student-athletes with the opportunity to more readily transition to college life. College life can be much easier for an athlete when he or she can build a group of friends with similar passions and interests. When other friends have plans or they cannot go to dinner that night, our teammates are always there. When other friends do not want to throw the ball around, our teammates are always ready and able. We work together, study together, eat together, and even live together. Teammates make up a second family—a band of brothers or sisters with whom we spend every day working with to become “better.” As freshman golfer Damian Hammond put it, this team environment is something unique to collegiate sports and something many of us could not do without.
We play to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Bryne points to “being part of a team” or a group of athletes as a way to foster a sense of competition and of comradery that does not necessarily exist within academics. I will be the first to admit that, were it not for my teammates, I would not be in the gym everyday either lifting, running, or taking extra swings. Many of us will not do it for ourselves, but we will work hard for others and do our part as a member of a team. Team success, in many of our cases, outweighs any form of personal achievement or glory.
While we may not get the financial aid, the preferential treatment, or the publicity and recognition that Division I athletes enjoy, most of us are perfectly content to play at this level. Division III athletes demonstrate an unwillingness to let go of the game we love. As Hammond said, our sports have “shaped a part” of who we are, while our “passion for competition” has remained constant through the years. We started playing in our youth because nothing else was more fun than playing a sport with some friends. There was nothing we would rather be doing than shooting a basketball, slapping a hockey puck, kicking a soccer ball, swimming a lap, or swinging a bat. We continue to play our sport at the Division III level because of our passionate and unwavering love for the game we play.
Photo courtesy of Skidmore College