November 10, 2006

These colors don't run

Homer Simpson maintained that there are two kinds of people at college: jocks and nerds. At the U of C, we don’t bother with the distinction, focusing instead on the traits that divide the nerds from the geeks, the dorks from the dweebs, and all of those from “that kid.”

We’ve all made our way to the neo-Gothic architecture of Hyde Park in search of the Life of the Mind, but there’s also no doubt that our interests extend far beyond Thucydides and the intricacies of the bell curve. A quick walk through the quads, with their chalk advertisements running from Hull Gate to Harper, only begins to show the many hobbies that Chicago students devote their time and energy to supporting.

But out of the gamut of activities, there is one that seems to be shunned by the majority of students. Sports and athletes are often viewed as the odd men out on campus. They don’t fit into the image of Chicago as the place where fun comes to die in a fun way, and our Division III teams have yet to find a place among the rest of the RSOs.

The fact is, however, that the Maroons offer a great source of school pride. Many of our squads are strong forces in an extremely competitive league, and all of our programs have taken steps in the past few years to kick varsity athletics up a notch.

This Saturday marks the most recent example of the great strides coming out of Ratner and Stagg, as men’s soccer takes on St. Norbert in the first round of postseason play. Playing at nearby Dominican University in River Forest, the match is a short Metra or Green Line ride away. The Maroons’ loudest fan base—the Phoenix Phanatics—are organizing a trek out to the ’burbs to support our team.

Sure, it’s bound to be mostly sports fans heading off to the pitch, but you don’t have to be a jock to root for or appreciate the Maroons. Our teams represent our school, and taking pride in their success isn’t something that’s reserved for the hardcore jocks. Cheering for the Maroons is the same as applauding the cast at the end of a UT production or going to a panel discussion. It’s simply supporting other Chicago students in their activities away from the textbooks.

So maybe Homer Simpson saw a distinct line between jocks and nerds, but here at the U of C, they can be one and the same.