Students offer their opinions on the value of various varsity sports programs
The University of Notre Dame has 26 varsity sports programs, 13 for men and 13 for women. Students, however, predominantly attend three types of sporting events: football, basketball and hockey games. Despite the recent success of many other varsity programs, these are traditionally not as popular with the majority of the student body.
The Notre Dame Men’s Soccer team won the 2013 National Championship, while the Irish Women’s Soccer team was National Champion in 2010 (their 20th appearance). The Notre Dame Fencing team has won 8 team National Championships and had 9 Olympians. This year they sent 10 fencers to the NCAA Championships, where Gerek Meinhardt returned as the 6th two-time NCAA Champion.
The Irish Men’s Lacrosse team has had 18 NCAA Championship appearances, and was the runner-up in the National Championship game in 2010. Women’s Lacrosse reached the Final Four in 2006, and in 2010 reached the NCAA tournament for the third straight year, the longest streak in school history. Men’s Golf has won 11 conference championships in program history, and Men’s Tennis won the Big East Championship in 2013 for their 9th conference championship in program history.
As a whole, these sports continue to be less popular than football, basketball and hockey.
“There is not that much national attention on those sports, and that translates into not as much interest on campus,” stated junior Russell King. “I enjoy watching sports, but I do not know the players very well so it’s not as exciting to watch.” Many students at the university do not attend these sporting events because the sports do not appeal to them.
“I don’t really feel a connection to those sports because I’m not a huge fan of them and I don’t really know anyone on the teams,” senior Elliot Miller said.
Some students only attend because they have a personal connection with the athletes competing. Many say that homework takes up too much time, or that these sports are not as entertaining as football, basketball or hockey. Senior Tony Lefeld said, “I have a busy schedule, and I would go to a football or hockey or basketball game over those so less likely for me to go to those sports.”
While only a handful of Notre Dame students attend each of these sporting events, most of the student body agrees that it is important to the overall university community to have these sports on campus. Many students feel that it adds to the diversity of the student body to have these sports available to participate in and watch.
“I think that is important to offer these sports because it allows for students who do not have the money to buy tickets to go to the bigger sporting events to still go and cheer for their college,” stated freshman Ryan Busk. “Also, if we didn’t have these sports we wouldn’t have any recent National Championships.”
Students also think that these sports help keep interest alive for those who participated in high school.
“They are important to have because then people who like sports can bond over it,” said freshman Mia Hogan.
The presence of each of these sports on campus allows people who are interested in them to continue to enjoy the sport.
Freshman Jack Corrigan commented: “It is important for the university to have lots of activities and things to do, and having lots of sports is a part of it.”
Many students believe that it is valuable to have a diverse community of athletes present on campus, and that it adds to the diversity of activities in which students can be involved.
“I was a cross country, swimming and track athlete in high school,” said King, “so I know what it is like to be in non-marquee sports. Notre Dame is all about finding your talents and strengthening them. There is something for everybody here. So they may not have as many followers, but these sports are quite important to the University community.”
Alicia Czarnecki is a freshman environmental engineering major. She enjoys playing trombone in the Marching Band. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.