Since the decision of University President Robert Maynard Hutchins in 1939 to place increasing emphasis on academics, the merit of athletic program at Chicago has been called into question. Those affiliated with the University commonly consider the days of athletic glory to be passed, as is illustrated by the popular mantra that Chicago's football team is the only one to be undefeated against Notre Dame (a match-up that first occurred some 70 years ago). While the University of Chicago may now stand for academic merit and intellectual pursuits this is no justification for disparaging the athletics program on campus.
Academics can hearken back to the days of the Greeks, when physical prowess was praised in the same breath as intellectual ability. The ideal Greek man was one fit in both mind and body. Chicago student-athletes attempt to construct such a balance between their athletic talents and the demands of their academic pursuits.
While many do not take Division III athletics seriously, the lives of such student-athletes can be far more compelling than those of students in Division I programs. Whereas the latter often devote the majority of their college experience to athletic successadhering to a regimen that is essentially professionalChicago student-athletes are able do more than just compete. They excel in classes, pull all-nighters writing papers, and party harder than they sometimes should. They are the true amateurs who, while highly competent in their sport, have lives outside of it.
Few may come to the University of Chicago to pursue an athletic career, but the choice to participate in Division III athletics implies a commitment to sport that goes beyond pure athletic success. Student-athletes at the U of C and other Division III schools balance a series of factors and achieve success in more than one domain of their lives.