Let Them Wear Lycra: The Benefits of a Weak Sports Culture


By Bella Levaggi

Star quarterback? Homecoming football game? Die-hard athletic alumni? When you compare Tam to other schools that the media has led us to believe exist elsewhere in America, there are more than a few differences, namely in our sports culture. I couldn’t tell you the name of our star baseball pitcher, nor our most effective defensive lineman. Perhaps the cause of such a phenomenon lies in our student body’s apparent apathy towards topics that do not directly relate to them. Now, don’t think that I’m just calling all of you out; I’ll be among the first to acknowledge that I have only been to two CTE productions since I defected the program, and the only school sporting events I’ve attended have been those that I was personally involved in. However, regardless of reason, it’s obvious that something is different about Tam. But, in the context if our athletic sphere, such a perceived dissimilarity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Would it be nice to have other, non-participatory students lining up to gain entrance into my track meets and mountain bike races? Of course. Would it be nice to immerse myself in school spirit at football games that don’t have an association with Homecoming? Probably (if I could bring myself to care more about said school spirit). But one thing that I find interesting, is that there’s less pressure when I’m performing for myself and my teammates than if I was under the scrutiny of a hundred of my peers. My victories and defeats are more intimate when shared with my inside-joke sharing teammates than with those who couldn’t care less about watching for about five seconds as awkward, lycra-clad teenagers bike past.

On a more introspective note, I believe Tam’s limited connection between sports teams and “popularity” is another bonus. Not being held to a standard that possesses a frighteningly direct correlation to social status (that phrase we all pretend we don’t care about, but in truth is a constant itch at the back of our minds) allows us to truly find the sort that we love. At some random suburban school in the Midwest I might have had to make the choice between cheerleading and mountain biking, a choice upon which I risked losing my place in social groups. But at Tam, where no one sport defines itself as the elite calling of adolescent royalty, I have freedom. So what if I go with the team that makes me wear semi-flattering lycra? That I got to decide for myself, free from stigmas and judgement, is remarkable and something to be valued.