COMMENTARY: Students criticize faculty athletes

By Elizabeth Oakes
Staff Writer

Growing up as the youngest in my family, I quickly learned that I would never win when it came to sports.

It would have been delusional to think of myself as equal competition to my brother, who is five years older than I am. Chinese checkers was really the only fair competition between us because he was faster and stronger when it comes to sports.

Now that we are older, I am sure that if we challenged each other to a race it would be slightly closer to a fair match, but without a doubt, he would still win.

Because of the advantages seniority can give, competitive sports assign competitors based on age, even down to dance teams and weight-lifting — except for Union’s intramural leagues, that is.

The saying “pick on somebody your own size” came to mind when I noticed rosters for intramurals showing faculty and staff on teams with students. Faculty and staff are a major part of students’ lives, but they should not be students’ competitors on intramural fields.

Whether professors are the better athletes or not, it seems a little odd that a competitor could leave a game and then go grade your test.

The intramural leagues consider faculty and staff as part of the greater community that should be allowed to connect with students in places other than the classroom or office. In theory, it is a respectable idea; in practice, it is not a pretty sight.

The men’s ultimate Frisbee tournament Sept. 24 presented Rho Alpha, a mix of staff and resident advisers, against The Young Puppy Gang, a team consisting primarily of sophomore men.

The Young Puppy Gang initially did not see a problem with competing against faculty and staff members because they believed they were the better Frisbee players.

However, after playing against Rho Alpha twice before the championship game, the Young Puppy Gang saw how serious the staff members on the team were about winning.

Hundreds of people stood on the sidelines with maracas, cowbells and signs to show support at the championship game. As the game progressed, the camaraderie ceased, as foul after foul was called against the Young Puppy Gang.

One Young Puppy Gang player remarked, “We aren’t even playing Frisbee anymore; we’re just calling fouls.”

The 7-6 victory for Rho Alpha was exciting for some. Others questioned the legitimacy of the competition.

After the game, some acknowledged that without certain aggressive staff members, Rho Alpha could have lost the championship.

I do think time spent with faculty and staff outside the classroom is one of the best things Union has to offer. However, intramurals should focus on current students in order to level the playing field and make participating more enjoyable.

It is simply not a fair competition considering that the volleyball coach played on an intramural volleyball team last year. Doing so is not an effort to enhance community among staff and students; it is a strategy to win.

In the future, I think faculty and staff should support students by cheering them on from the sidelines rather than intimidating them on the field.

Intramural games should be a place for current students to challenge each other to equally matched competitions. Time spent in community with staff and faculty can be experienced at a celebratory dinner.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.