One of the main elements we sacrifice when choosing to go to a Division III school is the excitement surrounding that huge game. However, just because Brandeis is Division III does not mean our athletes are somehow less capable than Division I athletes. In fact, Division III athletes aim for a well-rounded college experience, in the sense that they do not want to limit their future.
“Nowadays, some 5-star and blue chip recruits are choosing top Division III tennis schools over Division I schools because of the academic level,” Ethan Saal ’18, a member of the men’s tennis team, said. “Those that know they definitely don’t want to compete after college turn toward the importance of their education.” However, Saal is not one of those students; his goal is to “[show] athletes around the world that they can still be a professional athlete after receiving a world class education.”
Other Brandeis athletes like Sarita Biswas ’16, one of the captains of the women’s tennis team, believes that “Division I sports tend to be better because they can give scholarships to their athletes, so they can recruit the better players.” However not all student-athletes chose Division I schools.
Many athletes at Brandeis sacrificed the athletic support of a Division I school for the one-on-one interaction with the coaches and chance to participate in other extracurricular activities that come with Division III sports. Division I schools limit the lives of their athletes, but that is not always a positive. These schools’ sports are a major source of their schools’ revenue and reputations, but according to a current N.C.A.A. report, the graduation rate of football and basketball players is 20 percent below the college average. Some Division I athletes are under-qualified academically and only attend college for sports.
That’s not to say that our athletes are not dedicated to their sport just because they value education. Most sports at Brandeis hold mandatory practices and conditioning for around three hours a day, sometimes more, in addition to weekly competitions during their sport’s respective season. Brandeis athletes are typical, ambitious Brandeis students.
A member of the swimming and diving team, Maya Saar ’18 practices 18-20 hours per week from September to February. She says that “balancing everything is definitely hard, and there are times when I get jealous of the kids who are just full-time students. But I think that juggling everything is a great skill to learn, and it can be done.” Biswas agreed with this, adding that it “forces me to manage my time more efficiently.”
One of the main reasons Brandeis sports are not appreciated as much as they should be is because of the lack of support from the school. Universities are sorted into divisions partially because of their facilities. Brandeis University facilities are not state-of-the-art. Saal points our attention to the indoor tennis courts, which, due to some water damage, have been unplayable for a few months. Saar also pointed out that Division I athletes end up getting benefits like free gear.
While the Brandeis Athletics Department advocates for their student-athletes, the school does not allocate enough time or funds to athletics. Division III athletes are just as valid and talented as Division I athletes and deserve more support from the school and the students. Next time there’s a home game, make sure to go support our Judges and all their hard work.