As a naïve high schooler, I was steadfastly against the high level of influence that sports held over colleges. I believed that college should be all about scholarship, and that sports served as a resource drain and distraction for colleges and their students. So naturally, I chose to attend Duke.
My feelings about college sports then got complicated. Expecting to never attend a basketball game, I went to the very first one my freshman year (and most of the ones after). Prioritizing my classes over all else, I tented two out of my four years (tenting is living in a tent for six weeks to gain admission into the Duke-UNC game. That’s right, ONE game). Valuing academics over the other facets of college life, my best college memories are from basketball games.
Since graduating, I’ve accepted that my views towards college sports lie somewhere in the middle of against and ra-ra go team. College sports help instill a sense of kinship and college pride that brings a richness to the college experience treasured by students and alumni all across the US. This richness can be so strong that it clings for decades after graduating, with those having the same alma mater more easily able to trust, network, and develop friendships. My college experience would not have been the same without college sports, and I would not want to change anything about my experience.