thraxil.org:

swarthmore cuts 3 varsity sports

by anders pearson Tue 12 Dec 2000 20:01:02

dammit. i knew i should have gone to swarthmore. it’s nice to see a school actually place academics ahead of sports for once.

<p>when i was the online editor for the student newspaper at <a href="http://www.bates.edu/">Bates</a>, we came under heavy pressure from the athletics department to put the sports section on the back page (the back page is a desirable location since you don&#8217;t have to open the paper). they were pushing us because they wanted the copies of the paper that were sent to prospective students to show that Bates was really serious about sports. unfortunately, they had a lot of clout with the school and were able to basically give us the ultimatum that sports got the back page or we lost all of our funding. this threat presented three serious problems to the editorial staff: </p>
  1. by allowing outside organizations to dictate our content, our journalistic integrity would be seriously comprimised.
  2. for the entire history of the paper, the only thing which had stayed constant and could be considered a real “tradition” was the “question on the quad” section on the top fold of the back page; we considered it a part of our identity as a paper.
  3. the paper was funded partly by the school and partly by advertising. the advertising spot below the fold on the back page was our largest revenue generator; if it were to be moved to the middle somewhere, we would lose a significant portion of our income. since the paper was barely staying afloat as it was (actually we were $5K in the hole before any of this even started), this was not an attractive option. we were basically put in the position of deciding if we wanted half our funding cut if we stood up to them or a third of our funding cut if we submitted.
<p>we managed to resist for the rest of the year that i worked there (until i, and a few others, got laid off because of the vanishing budget) mostly because we had legally binding contracts with our advertisers that their ads would run on the back page for that entire year. sadly, the next year, the paper was forced to give up and the sports section is now on the back page. so the result is that now bates will appear &#8220;serious about sports&#8221; to the potential students but it no longer has even the most basic online version of its newspaper (for comparison, <a href="http://www.columbia.edu/">columbia</a> has 19 different student publications online).</p>

<p>at around the same time that was going on, Bates finally gave the athletic department the power to recruit and offer athletic scholarships. previously (and this was one of the reasons that i liked bates and chose to go there), the athletic department had a small amount of informal influence over admissions but were not explicitly allowed to recruit athletes. it seems clear to me that Bates is heading downhill now; destined to become just another of the schools which admit non-athlete students merely so they can be sure they have bodies to fill the stands at football games. </p>

<p>i have this fantasy about one day becoming disgustingly rich (we&#8217;re talking bill gates rich) and going back to bates and saying &#8220;i am willing to give you X billion dollars on the sole condition that you cut all sports and burn down the gymnasium.&#8221; just to see what they&#8217;d do.</p>

<p>i was eating dinner the other night and on the radio i heard them announce some essay contest aimed at high school students asking them to write an essay about how sports had changed their lives for the better. i missed the details on how to submit but i seriously considered, as a protest, sending in my own essay on how sports had taught me a valuable lesson about how fucked up our educational system and our priorities as a society really are.</p>

comments

anders, you're beautiful.

aww shucks... matti thinks i'm "damn sexy" and heather thinks i'm beautiful. :)

I wrote a "Letter to the Editor" about that issue back in the day. I hated the Athletic Department at Bates...and I like sports. Now they've gone and added an astroturf field at Bates. Grrr. Makes me mad.

anders, I think it was good that we got out when we did.

amen. I often had similar fantasies about being Mr. Rich guy who gave enough funding to annihilate all sports except for the sumo and uphill skiing teams.

Conn College has no football team. the reason being some alum gave them a buncha cash on that condition. sadly, they're big enough on lacrosse that their meathead quota is still big enough.

you just gotta wonder about Bates. It'd be satisfying to see the average GPA skyrocket and the campus damage / assault stats drop like a DC10 if athletics couldn't recruit anymore.

and of course, the "spudgun biathlon" can stay...

i really don't have much against sports either; i ran track in high school and i fenced at bates. i just like to think that college is supposed to be a place of learning not a sports franchise.

I have no problem with collegiate sports per say, save when the academic standards a college is supposed to uphold are brought down by "special" individuals that squeak by the admissions process in the transpass lane. cause frankly, athletics do nothing for the quality of an education a college is supposed to be selling you. as much as I love going to hockey games, I'd rather have classes that didn't induce narcolepsy than the best whatever team in the whatever. if people want to put on helmets and run around, that's peachy, as long as they've proven they should be there in the first place. you're damn right -- it is supposed to be a place where thinking comes first.

course bates has bigger problems than sports: faux hippies. I don't know what merit they have to go to school, they are absolutely good for nothing. and they certainly don't play sports, unless you count 4-wheel on-roading to phish shows and back and tree hugging. and they're just blindingly stupid. so obviously there are more than a few loopholes at bates. or here, there, anywhere.

and spudding would of course immeadately become a varsity sport in my socially constructed reality.

I was thinking that the spudgun would be a taught in a first year seminar...

and taught by gene clough no less.

I'm sure he'd be thrilled to help anyone who wanted to build one...he did after all help a student build a trebuchet as a thesis project.

My "Bill Gates fantasy" revolves around going back to Bates and giving that man a $1M/year research budget for doing random projects with students. Can you imagine the sort of stuff that would happen?


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