Shulman and Bowen still miss the point

To the Editor:

In their rebuttal “Getting the facts right in the student-athletes debate” (2/12), James Shulman and William G. Bowen contend that I have mistaken their views on the role of the “values — of the business world.” They claim their book sees nothing wrong with the intrusion of these values into higher education. But this book also finds that male athletes tend to major more in economics than other students and suggests that this is undesirable. If the values of the business world are indeed welcome at Yale, then athletes should not be criticized for preferring economics.

Contrary to Shulman and Bowen, the popularity of team sports and intramurals suggests that there is no shortage of outlets for the energies of non-recruited athletes — like Cyrus Vance ’39, to whom I referred in my article — at Yale. The deeper question, as they rightly state, is whether scarce admission slots should continue to be allocated to recruited athletes. Their preference is clear and consistent: these slots should be reduced.

My own belief is that, as long as admissions standards continue to be high, and the campus culture is not dominated by athletics, the recruited athletes add experiences, preferences and values to the campus — and to the contributions of Yale to the nation — that would be missed if they were not admitted. Paradoxically, I therefore agree with Shulman and Bowen’s concluding point, which was also mine: we can only gain from holding an energetic debate about how we should define and promote Yale’s values.

Ted R. Bromund

February 12, 2002

The writer is is a lecturer in history. He is currently teaching History 404b, “Sports in History, 1840-1990.”