The once Rome-exclusive event has finally debuted in Irving: the UD Olympics. For nearly an entire day, students created a team to compete in three major games: the Punic Wars — tug-of war —, Chariot Race — relay piggy-back race on the Mall — and finally the Spartan Race — obstacle relay course. Throughout the event, there is a shared emphasis on the purpose of the UD Olympics in the attitude of competition and sportsmanship.
The attitude of sportsmanship is taken much more lightly in comparison to the traditional athletic attitude from the first event. In the Punic Wars, all teams competed against each other for the best out of three rounds. There were even some spectators who ended up being a part of a small team to compete at the last minute.
“I was intending to go work on some homework by the Cap Bar but then I bumped into some freshmen friends of mine,” said Ryan Weiland, a junior theology major. “Their fourth team member was suddenly unable to make it to play and they asked me to join. I decided that I would hop on the team and it sounded pretty fun.”
In the final round of the Punic Wars, all the spectators and other competitors surrounded each of the last teams shouting “Heave!” in unison. They were so mixed together that one had to be a part of the shouting in order to see who was winning.
After each match, all the teams would shake their opponents or even praise them for putting up a tough fight. They would sometimes stand next to each other for the rest of the round talking or cheering for the other teams together.
The biggest appeal of the UD Olympics is that their purpose was to foster community on campus for all students, not just necessarily student athletes.
Francis Chang, a sophomore philosophy major and the captain of the 1st place Crunchwrap SUPREME team, shared, “I always thought it was a good opportunity to have some friendly competition. Everyone around the school, bring some community together and have a fun Saturday doing something intense.”
Although there were mostly underclassmen competing in preparation for Rome’s Greek Olympics, there were some upperclassmen who experienced both of the UD Olympics. Marina Hoeft, a junior education and Spanish major, is a proud Spromer who compared both Olympics as a whole.
“In the Greek Olympics, we were allowed to bribe the judges. Given that its students are running [the Olympics] this time, we can’t exactly bribe with alcohol like we used to,” said Hoeft.
One of Hoeft’s praises of the UD Olympics is the size of the team. She believes a small team allows more communication, trust and coordination.
“You have to be much closer with your team and know how to work together, which I think is really cool,” Hoeft shared. “We’re independent thinkers but we learned how to work together and accomplish something great even if we absolutely suck at it.”
The opportunity of uniting and thriving to improve is something that student athletes have that other regular students do not. It’s a major time commitment to practice, condition, compete and do homework on and off season. Although it is a wonderful gift, the purpose of competition can often become disordered especially when competing with other opponents.
To all student athletes, see the UD Olympics both in Rome and in Irving, as a reminder on what true competition is. Competition is having teammates and opponents challenge, encourage and teach each other how to be disciplined in their own sport and culture. Competition is not just being better than your opponents. This is a call to exercise that opportunity on home games and towards others.
“Everyone was having a good time,” Chang shared. “Everyone’s giving their best and I love UD putting events on Saturdays now on campus…[It] brings everyone together doing something outside of school, but still on campus.”