Brian Schoenauer: A Reflection on the Emotionality of Athletics



Photography and Text by Brian Schoenaeur, Copyright 2016




Athletics have the ability to bring out of us incredibly raw and powerful emotion. The four fundamental emotions of love, happiness, sadness and despair can be expressed in a multitude of ways. Many athletes play for the love of the game – and for the love of their teammates. Memories and bonds formed through the glory of victory and the agony of defeat undoubtedly last a lifetime. However, the strongest memories may not be an individual play or an incredible win. The strongest memories may be the moments in between. Preparation, practice, and moments of friendship off the field make the joy of success that much sweeter. Happiness after a win is an astoundingly pure emotional state. But like most things in life, it is fleeting.


Sadness after a loss is an equally powerful state. You never get that chance back – it is gone forever. The finality of athletics can be brutal. The game or competition that has given you so much can take everything away in an instant. The promise of victory – or even the ability to compete are transient. The emptiness left by this void is a fundamental form of despair.


It may be hard to imagine life without your teammates or your sport. The season may seem hopeless. Despite it all, one can only persevere and to focus on the happiness borne from the love of the game and the love shared between teammates.


I wanted to, as a part of this project, highlight the emotionality of sport through classic portraiture. I also wanted to celebrate some of the important people in my life – who also happen to be athletes at Penn themselves. My little sister, Kathryn, is a freshman on the track team. She is one of the most driven and kind people I know– and I am the proudest big brother. Olivia, Paige, and Tahirih are seniors on the Penn soccer team – and as athletes, they are amazingly fierce competitors.


As people, they have the biggest and warmest of hearts. Tahirih became genuinely emotional during the shoot when Paige, her teammate, started talking about how their soccer playing careers would be over soon. Paige described what those moments after the last game would be like. She described the people they would see there – the people who have been alongside them through this collegiate sports journey. Tahirih thought about all the friends she would have to leave behind after her senior season. In that moment, Tahirih’s emotions rose to the surface as she contemplated the end of competitive soccer. This was undoubtedly the most powerful moment of this project for me.



Portrait of Brian Schoenauer by Kaleb Germinaro, Copyright 2016.
Portrait of Brian Schoenauer by Kaleb Germinaro, Copyright 2016.

About The Author: Brian Schoenaeur is a senior enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017. Brian is also a running back on the Penn football team.

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