Non-Mainstream Sports Teams Are Just as Significant as the Big Ones

Being an Irvine athlete is serious business. We all have our own worries and woes when it comes to studying and extracurricular activities, but imagine if that was put into the mix with full-time training and game schedules. Imagine being in the same shoes as the baseball team last year when they went out to Louisiana State University for a huge three-game series during finals week, all the while knowing that they had to move out of their homes when they returned home. Imagine being a swimmer in the last big meet of the season and having to jump back into training within the next few days for fear of losing a step.
Now imagine applying that non-stop, physically draining schedule to your life while playing a sport that does not get the same recognition in sports like baseball and swimming.
Just because certain sports are not as mainstream as others does not mean that they are not just as demanding. On that note, I feel like it is time to give credit where credit is due: Whether you play basketball or row, being a collegiate athlete is nuts.
Let’s start with our most recent standout athlete in a non-mainstream sport. Cross-country runner Laura Olvera beat out 278 runners to win the 35th annual Stanford Cross Country Invitational on Saturday. She ran 6,000 meters in 20:42 and, unlike thousands of regular students, will probably not miss class today. This is Olvera’s second straight win this season and it looks like there is nothing stopping her.
No offense to my homies on the baseball diamond, but taking ground balls does not come close to the training Olvera has to endure. These people are incredible.
Now take a sport like rowing. It’s not the most popular athletic event on the collegiate level, but like cross-country, the amount of training these athletes have to incorporate into a full-time school schedule is overly impressive. Weights and cardio are huge parts of their regiment, and that’s done before they even get into the boat. They compete against other schools like UCLA and USC on a very intense level of competition and still manage to take and study for the same quizzes and tests as the rest of us.
The drive and passion that these athletes possess is something that only a collegiate athlete would fully be able to explain, but from an outsider’s perspective it is nothing short of impressive.
These athletes are given a few perks, and rightfully so; to help with the heavy load, the athletic department does a good job making sure their athletes are happy.
But let’s now look at some other alternative sport athletes that don’t get the perks. Not only are there alternative sports on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) level but also in the club sports realm, such as badminton or equestrian. That’s right, UC Irvine has an equestrian team.
Some of these sports require a major amount of training and time because for some students, this is the highest level of competition before the professional ranks. The level of competition is not necessarily as high as the NCAA, but it requires just as much sacrifice and dedication. With these types of sports, an athlete has to truly love the sport in order to keep a full-time school schedule and athletic schedule. Very rarely are these athletes given any type of recognition for how much they do, when in reality they are taking on a huge task: being an athlete in college.
That is what it all comes down to. The fact that they play one sport or the other does not matter. They are all student athletes and there is something to be said for that. All of these students are sacrificing time and energy in the name of sports and that is more than most can say about their college experience.
Don’t believe the hype: Believe the Hypothesis.