Team sports can be an integral part of creating a cohesive and healthy campus community. For three years, I attended a private art university that did not offer any organized sports.
At first, I didn’t really care because I was an ‘artist’ and many artists didn’t do sports. At least, that’s the impression art school gave me, and I ran with it. I had participated in team sports my entire life — basketball, soccer and softball as a kid to competitive swimming as a teen— so when I was fresh out of high school, I wanted something completely different.
Turns out, the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) was completely different. In high school, I pretty much lived in the pool, but could not find one in Santa Fe. I tried working out on my own, but could not properly motivate myself the same way being a part of a team might have. I felt unhealthy that first year. My mental, spiritual and physical health faltered, and it took several years for me to figure out how to get healthy again with my new no-team-sports lifestyle.
I wasn’t the only one who was affected by the lack of sports. Some of the guys in my class took over ‘Dodgeball Wednesdays’ and tried to grow it into a something bigger. I went a few times, but it was not for me. They only met once a week and it was a first come, first serve kind of deal. It was not well organized, and it was just my classmates throwing balls at each other and arguing about if someone got hit or not — not the kind of team feeling I was looking for.
There was also a quidditch team that some students started up on campus, which was a sport I found fun and also got my heart rate up. But there typically were not enough people on the team to have a full game ourselves, let alone find another team in the city to compete against. There were multiple issues that prohibited establishing a consistent schedule and, after two practices, I never heard from them again.
Nearly everyone who lived on campus was full of anxiety. Normally doing art as a creative outlet is soothing, but when the art is your final project and it’s not going well, it’s more stressful than just not doing anything at all. When creative block hits, working out the same creative muscle does not make it better. SFUAD did not have a real ‘complete opposite’ source of de-stressing. There was no easily accessible physical outlet. There was no ‘team-spirit’. There was nothing to bring the whole student body together. There was a disconnect.
After attending the University of New Mexico over the past two years, I can step back and really see how important team sports are to a campus community — even for those people who don’t play sports.
UNM has about 25,000 students. And even though there were only about 600 students at SFUAD while I was a student, I feel more connected to UNM as a university than I did there — and I was an Resident Assistant (RA). People here seem happier and more down to earth here, and while I know it cannot be 100 percent from having sports, having that sense of camaraderie and team-spirit is incredibly important. I knew the mantra ‘Everyone’s a Lobo’ years before I transferred to UNM.
On March 28, 2017, SFUAD announced it was closing and there was nothing really holding the student body together, so things fractured. People were panicking and burning metaphorical bridges. I know a lot of people, including myself, who lost friends during the last frantic month of that school year. And the student body became a student body of ghosts, and hundreds were forced to move on and transfer, start over, or quit school.
Even with sports, SFUAD probably still would have closed, causing those same people to be faced with difficult decisions. However, sports provide a togetherness that may have encouraged a more unified student body. Having team sports would not have fixed everything, but it could have fixed some things.
At UNM, students and the local community have the opportunity to go to the Dreamstyle Stadium and Arena, aka “the Pit”, and support our teams. If you’re an artist experiencing a creative block, you can go to a game or even join a sport to reset.
And the reverse is just as true for student-athletes. They can attend a musical or pick up a trombone or other instrument and enjoy something different that may provide an escape. Having a wider range of experiences and being a part of a team gives so many people more opportunities to shine. Having both arts and athletics accessible makes for a mentally and physically healthier Lobo student body for everyone. And, as you know, everyone’s a Lobo.
Anna C. Evanitz is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ACEvanitz.