Move over Policy Wonks...Make way for the Jocks
By PJ Chandra
“Christen Press over to Carli Lloyd. Carli Lloyd laying it out for Alex Morgan. Morgan lets it go through her legs. Megan Rapinoe is there. She shoots; she scores! 9-0 United States,” I commentate while watching The United States beat Thailand 13-0 in their opening match of the Women’s World Cup in Reims, France this summer. My name is PJ Chandra and from witnessing the United States win their fourth World Cup title in France this past summer to hosting my own tennis tournament raising over $2,700 benefiting disabled athletes to being a diehard Boston sports fan, I am excited to bring unique sports stories, analysis, and thoughts each week to TheMove. Through a lens of being obsessed with sports, going to my high school games, watching professionals on TV, coming to American University was certainly a change in terms of the culture of athletics.
“Just because AU is so focused on politics, doesn’t mean you can’t have a balance when it comes to how much people care about sports,” states Cam Wejnert-Depue, four-year tennis player and former captain. Depue believes if students put in 20% less effort into how much they care about politics and put around 15% more effort into sports, there would be a better balance and potentially a better culture here at AU. Ashley Go, a sophomore lacrosse player takes a slightly opposing view, saying, “it’s not a bad thing at all” to have a “domination of politics over sports here at American.” While there is certainly a general split in whether or not AU should continue to be dominated by politics rather than try to get a good balance, the fact remains that AU is one of the top five most politically active schools in all of America. At Depue’s Jesuit school, they had one of the loudest and rawest student sections in all of America and compared to AU, it’s certainly different. Go acknowledges that “not many people come out to the sports events” which can sometimes have a disadvantage for the athletes because athletes thrive off the crowds.
In terms of what would draw more people to games and events here at AU, Go believes that if AU “were more active on social media and sent more emails,” more students would go to the games. Both Depue and Go believe if we had a football team, that would rev up the spirits as it’s the most popular sport in the United States. People who are involved in politics here at AU have different role models or icons that they look up to: figures like Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, or John F. Kennedy. The same goes for sports and icons. Depue recalls his love and passion for Buffalo sports and acknowledges while the Bills and Sabres certainly aren’t always the best teams, “every week and every game no matter what their situation is, they come out and play hard and as well as they possibly can,” and what more can you ask for from a team? Go looks up to her parents, who are active athletes and while she has been playing lacrosse for over a decade and looks up to the big stars including Kobe Bryant and Serena Williams, she enjoys looking up to less appreciated athletes and smaller superstars including hockey player Nicklas Backstrom and US soccer player Tobin Heath.
While the athletic atmosphere here at American University will never reach anything like University of Michigan, Clemson, University of Maryland, or Penn State, there will always be a similarity, as Go pointed out, between these big schools passions for athletics to our passion for politics, which “isn’t a bad thing.” Moving forward here at AU, I certainly believe that things will not change dramatically in terms of AU passions and caring about the political environment and how our lives are affected by people on Capitol Hill and our elected leaders is important, but sports for millions of people give a chance to escape drama, life’s biggest problems, and gives people a chance to feel special, get healthier, and I hope over time here we all try to realize while politics is so divisive, sports has the healing power to bring people together and do good for the world.