Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Special Kind of Sport

Most young athletes dream of playing for their favorite college or professional team. Yet these dreams are often accompanied by the pressures of making them come true. For some these pressures can create passion and lead to success, but for many they transform a fun game into a stressful fixation.
What if we could take that pressure out of a sport? Then we would have rugby. There are no professional rugby players in the US, and the most competitive college teams do not have a single scholarship athlete. That is not to say that rugby is not competitive. Rugby will become an Olympic sport in 2016, and every year high school, college and senior teams travel all over the country to compete for national titles.
Ask any rugby player why they play and you will get the same answer. They play because it is fun. They love the sport and the incredible friendships they form with their teammates. At every level, in every city, rugby teams form a unique community that cannot be found anywhere else. It is hard to tell what makes rugby teams so special. Some people attribute it to the types of people who play rugby. You might have to be a little crazy to play an 80 minute, full contact game with little to no padding in every conceivable condition: from driving rain storms to 100 degree heat. Maybe it is that craziness that bonds us. However, I think there is something more. When I step out on the rugby field there are not 80,000 adoring fans, there is no money to be made and my coach’s livelihood does not depend on how I perform. Instead I get to spend my day playing the sport I love with 14 of my best friends; girls who just like me are playing for love of the game. I do not have to worry about where I will be in a few years or if I am good enough to play professionally. When I play rugby, I just get to have fun.
Margot DeBot
Notre Dame ‘12
Social Foundations of Coaching