Intramural America

JOHN GALLAGHER
SPORTS EDITOR

Intramural athletics is a strange wonder to an athlete. An authentic athlete, one dedicated to his sport to the extent that he or she will augment form and endurance with supplemental workouts, ice baths, correct nutrition, conditioning sessions and the like, finds himself now in a novel setting.

With specific regard to the single-A division of intramurals, a subset of intramural athletics dedicated first to fellowship, second to athletic achievement, an athlete finds himself in a scenario where competition is facilitated not to showcase achievement, but to foster unity.

It’s never difficult, on any intramural court or field of competition, to spot the athletes who have found a way to take intramural athletics too seriously. They make the easy mistake of donning their athletic mentality alone, at the full expense of the unity and the fellowship that would otherwise rise from the experience.

The victorious team isn’t always the league champion. More often than not, the victor is the team fraught with non-athletes, who can smile better than they can shoot a basketball, who can laugh more frequently than they can score a touchdown. I want those individuals on my team, because they remind me, often painfully, that intramural athletics intends to string smiles, not points, together.

If I care as much about winning an intramural matchup as I do a mid-season tennis match, I will tear my team apart with the attitude. I sell short the goal of intramural athletics if and when I allow my desire to win to blur the definition of team.

The fact is, we are only separate teams until the moment when both squads pray post-competition, and the true reason behind said competition so easily reveals itself.

Enter the 2016 election. Enter the vicious, public, rant-laden presidential selection process, one which holistically succeeded in rending America nearly down its middle. And like the over-competitive athlete in intramural competition, we’ve allowed our preference to blind us from our obligation.

Intramural athletics builds unity if we understand its ideal end, and fosters division if we do not.

The division currently plaguing America gives a clear indication, by metaphorical comparison, of a generation of over-competitive Americans, who have forgotten for which team they play. On this scale, the division will shred what once was under God, and indivisible.

Do not forget for which team you play. To do so does not invalidate your argument that one candidate or another is unqualified for one or a number of reasons. It instead breaches the definition of trust in favor of favor.

The last time the United States was two, not one, the North and South ripped into each other in what is still the bloodiest war in our country’s history.

Only a day after Donald Trump was by electoral vote officially nominated as our president-elect, President Barack Obama strolled to the podium waiting on the White House lawn. When he addressed the nation, he summarized well the unity which now, more than ever, must characterize America’s response: “Everyone is sad when their side loses an election … we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage … we are Americans first. We’re patriots first.”

Intramural athletics – the goal is never to win, insomuch as the goal is always to build a stronger unity between participants. The similarity, or lack thereof, to our backlash-laden election results, will do no less than shape this nation.

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