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Getting Back on The Playing Field; The Power of Sport and the Meaning It Carries

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

It just feels right.

Playing sport again. Watching sport again. Consuming it in any way we choose. It just feels right.

That’s the sense I got while back on campus that was almost absent for most of last year.

Regardless of what way you choose to experience sport, we’ve likely all had a chance to reflect on what this unique, fascinating medium meant to us, especially how much it was missed when it got taken away. As I walked around the campus, I couldn’t help but observe small instances where sport’s return seemed so unique and profound.

Let’s start with us, the students trying to stay in shape in the face of lectures, social events, and assignments. Did I mention it’s already midterm season? Add that to the list too.

Whether it’s walking into the brand-new Zone at Walker Complex to power through leg day, playing soccer on Alumni Field, or taking part in intramurals, there seems to be a certain “buzz” around campus that was sorely missed for the past year and a bit. All these activities that are used (by definition) for recreation seem to mean much more- they’re a source of personal fitness, enjoyment, and especially if you’re on a team, a chance to connect with others face-to-face outside of a class setting. With all due respect to the tech that’s helped us through this pandemic, a Zoom meeting does not come close to replicating that crucial aspect of life.

Who could forget the varsity athletes? Nothing says sports are back like seeing the multitude of red backpacks in the hallways and the constant activity on Alumni Field of teams practicing. All of them seem to be chomping at the bit to get into any sort of game action and considering that most of them lost a year and a half of competition to things out of their control, I don’t blame them one bit. Just suiting up carries indescribable meaning for them, whether it’s motivated by their support group, playing for the university, or playing for the supporters that came to watch the match. I attended the men’s soccer match on October 6th, my first U SPORTS event since February of 2020. I’m not a varsity athlete by any means, and even I recognize that the impact of varsity sport on the athletes and the university is indescribable, as many consider it a piece of normality and a part of the quintessential university experience.

Finally, what does sport mean to me? One may think that this is an easy question for a SPMA student, but if someone asked a collection of them, I’d bet the answers to that question would be quite nuanced, as is mine. For me, sport means life as I know it. I don’t use that statement lightly, and here’s why. I have a mild form of autism, which makes some aspects of life a bit more challenging than others would find it. But despite this, sport was always there, like a constant source where I could connect with others over it in any form. Playing, watching, discussing. It did not matter, and it came to the point where I was absorbed in all things sport, a major reason why I’m personally trying to make this a profession.

So, let’s raise a glass to a successful and hopefully safe sport calendar, regardless of what sport you like and what it means to you. We’ve missed it terribly. It’s great to have it back in full force.

Oh, and Go Badgers.

By: William Ord

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