Between a Jock and a Hard Place

It’s the final week of Block 4and that means it’s about time the sentimentality set in. That’s right, as the clock ticks down, first-years start to realize they are already one eighth into their college experience and seniors start to realize they are only months away from the daunting, real world. Each year these patterns persist and each year, somehow, we survive. The new year always, ironically, remains a time for change and a time for reflection.

So, as the possibility of change rests at the end of the month, issues of personal identity seem to lurk near the surface. Although change is an inevitable and constant truth, it is at this time of year that the majority of the world decides to actually devote themselves to a “new year, new me,” state of mind. So today, in honor of this time of change and identity evaluation, I decided to evaluate my own identity, one you all know and love, as a NARP. As much as I love being the regular gal that I am, I decided this week to explore the opposite identity. This week I had to ask, what’s it like to be a jock?

In asking this question, it struck me that the word ‘jock’ may not carry positive connotations, in fact all of the male athletes who I spoke with outwardly condemned the word and argued that the word ‘jock’ is not a part of their identity.

“I would not call myself a jock,” insisted junior Riley Hoffman, a men’s lacrosse player and athlete since the age of three. “I definitely think that word has some negative connotations, I think it implies that you’re a jerk who is only concerned with sports.”

Somehow my quest to explore the life of the jock became a realization that athletes are forced to suffer through labels just as limiting as those placed on us non-athletes. This seems to be not only the identity that many male athletes deny, but, unfortunately, the one that is most often projected on to them.

“We end up spending so much of our time with our team that I think people assume it’s the only thing we really care about,” Hoffman told me.

“I think in college it’s easier to assume that the athletes aren’t book-smart because they have the ability to get in because of their sport rather than because of their grades, but I think that’s a pretty big generalization,” a fellow non-athlete, junior Izzy Steucek, told me. “I think that may be a way that the jock stereotype makes its way into college.”

The words of this fellow NARP had me thinking, after all these years of envying the athlete, have I been blind to the stigmas they must overcome? All these years of watching the jock get the girl, were those tropes a lie? And that’s when I realized, the athlete who truly wins is the one who breaks from their status as a jock and proves themselves to be a complex individual, with emotions and desires and even non-athletic gifts. The jock is not the winner, the anti-jock is.

This realization hit me in the midst of Tessa Trivia, an annual event held by the men’s lacrosse team in conjunction with TESSA, an organization in Colorado Springs that helps to bring awareness to domestic violence and offers assistance and recources to those that have been affected by it. The event is organized by senior players and serves as both a night of charity and of education for those in attendance.

“This is always a really fun event and I think it’s great that we can come together with the community in this way,” senior lacrosse player Connor Haney explained. “It’s really great to organize it because we become personally involved with TESSA. We got a tour of the center and have worked with a lot of the staff in order to prepare for the event.”

At first I was surprised that a team of what many call jocks, men who may be expected to mistreat women and forsake community engagement in favor of sports, are the very group who take the time and effort to put on such an event. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is the power of their stereotype that has pushed these athletes to prove that they are more than just the jocks we may paint them as. So this year, although I have come to accept that I am not and will never be a jock, I will go forward inspired by their breaking of the mold, knowing that my own identify extends far beyond the bleachers.

Mariel Wilson

Mariel Wilson

Mariel Wilson

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