About three weeks ago, I participated in a grueling pushing match between two groups of sweaty men at Patrick Henry College. In some circles, this practice is called flag football. Despite my team’s efforts that day, we lost rather badly.
I was also in a similar game last semester and we lost that one as well. In fact, my dorm at Patrick Henry College has been consistently losing all of the semester flag football games to our competing men’s dorm for several years. (Yes, Patrick Henry College has only two men’s dorms.) One week after that rather demoralizing game, I organized a dodgeball team for a block party tournament we have each year at Patrick Henry College. We lost three of the four games we played.
Although I consider myself marginally athletic, it seems that ball sports are not exactly my forte. Thus, one may start to wonder: why would this guy participate in intramural sports at Patrick Henry College when he is 1) clearly not very gifted in the ball sport department, 2) busier than most college freshmen at other schools, and 3) has lost so many times before? The answer lies in the nature of sports themselves. There are several reasons why sports are such a major draw to many individuals, and especially guys.
The first reason to play intermural sports at Patrick Henry College is that it’s just good exercise—and in an interesting form. If one works out, he or she is familiar with the air-conditioned and padded atmosphere of a gym, designed perfectly so that one does not have to work too hard and can get swole at a steady pace. It is inhabited by creatures known as “gym rats” who are incredibly muscular, drink water out of milk jugs, and do not seem to have any other pastimes. While present, these creatures are fewer in number at Patrick Henry College than at other schools.
Unlike the native gym rats, one may go to the gym on a regular basis and slowly grow tired of mindlessly pushing iron up and down. Hence, intramural sports offer a unique and demanding form of exercise so much so that one wishes he could exercise like that all the time. One also experiences the extra benefit of being exposed to direct sunlight, which bestows vitamin D upon its recipients along with an attractive darkening of the skin. Contrary to popular belief, the fluorescent lights in a gym do not have this function.
Inner Animal Nature
The second reason to play intermural sports at Patrick Henry College is the appeal to the inner primal nature of humans, long suppressed by years of reading, thinking deeply, and doing math problems. This is especially the case at my school, Patrick Henry College, where one receives an excellent and vigorous education in all the subjects of the classical liberal arts, preparing him or her to get a great job and bring glory to God through their new acquired talents.
Notwithstanding the benefits of lots of hard schoolwork, all human beings have an animal caged deep inside them in various states of slumber. For some, the animal is virtually nonexistent, never to be awakened again because of its extreme self-imposed suppression. For others, it only takes a simple flag football game to unleash its power. When it is awakened, the inner animal in a person will release panther-like strength, agility, and aggression into that person, making them dominate in an intramural game or other physical endeavor. Once one has found his or her inner animal, one discovers how much he or she has been suppressing itand how much it actually needed to be released.
Learn Something New
At Patrick Henry College you can jump straight into a sport or activity that you may have no prior experience in. There are many unique opportunities to try something new. Consider tennis, racquetball, Ultimate Frisbee, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, outdoor basketball, softball, fencing, dance, or start an activity of your own. There are courts and spaces available at Patrick Henry College for all of these.
The third reason one competes in intramural sports at Patrick Henry College is for everlasting glory in competitive awesomeness. Although my dormmates and I have failed for so many years to return with the coveted antelope-head trophy, there is still a lasting hope that one day, we will be destined to take back what was once ours. Hope is a strong motivator. And even the chance of winning, however slim, can lure entire dorms of victory-hungry men and women to fields and basketball courts to do battle.
Even the fact of being the underdog can help motivate a team. Having less of a chance of winning and being underestimated at the onset could make victory so much sweeter, that the fight was harder to win but still done by the team with the greater persistence. The victor then celebrates humbly and makes the losers burn with jealousy and regret for all their trash-talking.
Therefore, in spite of all the reasons (read excuses) that I could have for avoiding intramural sports at Patrick Henry College, it appears that the benefits are too great to pass up. It’s a hard workout, a rare chance to release primal animalistic energy, and an opportunity to gain glory to your team through healthy competition (along with you looking like a boss occasionally). Learn something new at Patrick Henry College—something far from a classroom—and enjoy an activity with friends.
Of course, being healthy and competing graciously also brings glory to God, which should be the real agenda for anything we do. I would argue that having the wrong spirit towards something even as facile as intramural sports should be a reason not to play. Otherwise…what are your excuses? Go play outside.
Jackson Katanic is currently studying Economics and Business Analytics at Patrick Henry College; a classical Christian liberal arts college in Purcellville, VA. He plans to attend law school and work in corporate management. Katanic has lived in seven different states and enjoy songwriting and boxing.