By Devin Jones
I find it funny, this barrier that we often put between ourselves and professional athletes. These raised platforms on which we ogle men and women because of one very specific set of skills that they have dedicated years of training to. As if they don’t eat breakfast, listen to music or have feelings of self doubt just like the rest of us.
On a collegiate level things are a little bit different since athletes are students just like us, but do we really know who Julie Longman is — despite cheering on the women’s volleyball team as they played for a silver medal? Or what about Sofia Paska? I’m sure some of you who follow Ryerson basketball closely are aware of how dominant she’s been this season, but to the rest of us she’s just a jersey. A number. Some stats on a computer.
And even those of us who know Ryerson sports don’t care about Adika Peter-McNeilly outside of the Coca Cola court — but we should. We cheer for these jerseys, compare opponents’ match-ups and leap from our seats as feats of extraordinary athleticism are performed.
But when the final buzzer rings and we’re either elated or disappointed, we go home and ignore the fact that, so do they. We discuss the loss and what the team should have done, and so do they. We return to our homes and study for midterms, and so do they. These players, judged for their acts of magic, lead the same lives we do. Yet this notion is left in the bleachers, or in the MAC as we stream through exits on to more important things.
That’s why this year, for the annual Eyeopener Sports issue, we decided to do things a little bit differently. Calling the issue “Out of Bounds,” we’ve gotten rid of the jersey and the numbers, instead all the athletes were shot in day-to-day clothing, often reflecting an environment they’re in regularly. And while the written profiles are often connected to their athletic achievements with the Rams, we’ve tried to focus on how athletics is entwined with the rest of their lives. How the groceries they buy reflect their specific diets, or the how the TV shows they watch help them unwind after practice.
That’s the strange nature of watching sports — all our attention is directed to the action on the court or ice, and not always directed to the people who command our attention. And yeah, the flashy dunk or diving save should be admired as a feat of athleticism. But what’s more important than the action, is the man or woman who dedicated the time to perfecting their ability to pull it off. And that’s something that often gets lost in the spectacle of sport.
So my hopes for this issue are that you read these profiles and come away with new knowledge about people you already know. Because athletes, despite the cliché, are really like us, and we should never overlook what that means. And as you leave the MAC on to more important things, the athletes leave the important moment behind, only to return the next day to do it all again for us, the fans.
Click the names below to check out the player profiles!