The Transition to NARP
Read time: 5 min.
Photography by Spencer Krell
Student athletics are intense. No matter what school you attend, there’s an undeniable level of commitment and sacrifice required. However, it may go without saying that athletes at larger Division I colleges have a different experience than those here at Fordham. While football players at Alabama and Miami U are treated like celebrities, athletes at Fordham are commonly treated with indifference. This slight disdain is comparable to how Rose Hill students feel towards Gabelli kids and their false sense of superiority. Since Fordham doesn’t have sororities and fraternities, athletes treat their teams as such. This unknowingly adds to the detachment from the general student body. It probably doesn’t help that athletes refer to the other side as “NARPs” or “non-athletic-regular-people.”
I’m a former athlete here, playing on the women’s soccer team for my freshman and sophomore year. I stopped this past spring and have had the chance to encounter both sides of the Fordham experience. Due to my unique position, I have noticed a real lack of co-mingling between NARPs and athletes.
Morgan Busacca, a sophomore soccer player, gave me her take on her relationship with NARPs: “You meet them in class, but it doesn’t go beyond that because you’re on such a schedule.” With such time constraints, it becomes difficult to make and sustain relationships with people who aren’t under similar circumstances.
Tetsu Tonegawa, a former men’s soccer player, says that his transition away from collegiate athletics has allowed him to “experience college more and have free time.” Essentially, as a NARP , you get to go out a lot more. Not being on a team also allows students to study abroad, which Tetsu did. This is something athletes can’t take advantage of, unless they do a summer session. However, he said, “The hardest thing about not being on the team anymore is not seeing all your close friends at practices and games.”
Transitioning to NARP life can be daunting since you’re moving away from everything you’ve known in college, especially when the gap between athletes and non athletes is so large. Look at our cafeteria, for example. We all know where certain teams sit. Football takes monopoly over the spot in front of the sandwich line. Men’s soccer and baseball are on the left hand side at round tables and men’s and women’s basketball are the high top tables by where food gets dropped off. Has anyone ever seen a team sitting in a booth? Odds are, no. These things may seem small, but they are indicative of the larger separation here at Fordham. We subconsciously recognize these groups, so much so that we are even aware of who sits where. Almost like we’re in high school or some shit.
This disjoint is seen also in party scene. When asked about going out with athletes, NARP Caterina Alf says, “We bond over school, not ever about going out because of their schedules.” Going out as an athlete revolves around practices, games, and what point you’re at in the season. However, the nights you actually can go out usually include a party at one of the sport houses off campus and, nine times out of ten, teams like football, baseball, and soccer end up at Howl. In my limited experience as a NARP, it’s pretty obvious that Mugz’s is the bar of choice, but I, as well as most of my athlete friends, have never been. The Blend used to be where NARPs and athletes would co-mingle, but its perpetual closing has only widened the gap. Holistically, what everyone is doing is quite similar, yet there is still this disjoint between Fordham’s two populations because of scheduling and location.
A Fordham athlete who transferred from another university said that, in his experience, “Since there isn’t Greek life here, your team becomes family, and it becomes easy to only go out with the people you’re always with.”
Athletic events like football and basketball games are a huge deal at larger state schools. Essentially, they are the highlight of the year. For the students who attend such universities, these games create respect and loyalty for their teams. Even schools like Lehigh and Seton Hall, which are comparable in size to Fordham, are backed by substantial sporting events like LeLaf (Lehigh vs. Lafayette football game) or Seton Hall’s basketball games. Fordham’s athletic events lack the social experience that is a bonding point for other universities.
I’m not saying that this disconnect isn’t normal, because it happens at every university. Some much more so than others. At schools like Duke, there are separate dining halls for sports teams. Even classes with only athletes. It is expected that this disconnect occurs, but it's interesting to analyze how and why it happens, especially at a place like Fordham where the athletic programs are not as extensive in comparison to others. Having experienced this from both sides, I have realized that, even though our athletics aren't the biggest, the disconnect is prevalent here regardless. We are a smaller school with a pretty tight community, but our size doesn't mean we're not subject to the disparity between these two populations. NARP or not, this gap impacts every student at Fordham.