Martin: Be glad we have student athletes

Photo by Beau Gabriel.

There has been a debate over Yale student-athletes for some time now. We have heard the opinions of both sides, but each argument ultimately centers on an imaginary situation in which there are no student-athletes at Yale or other top American universities. This would be depressing. However, I want to talk to you about a place where this is already a reality: Britain.

You see, there are no recruited student-athletes in Britain. Admission to any British university is entirely dependent on your academic record. While this arguably means that the best students are attending the best universities, the lack of student-athletes has had an unusual effect on student life at British universities.

Before I came to the United States, I had heard of America’s insane passion for sports. I knew that entire stadiums were filled with students just to watch two college football teams play. I had seen the incredible facilities that seemed to be available on almost every college campus. Any of my British friends could tell you that if you wanted to play sports at university, you should go to America.

However, they wouldn’t say the same about the United Kingdom. Few British universities have athletics program that could match those at most American universities. In the UK, there are no stadiums filled with devoted student fans every time two universities square off against each other. In fact, there are almost no college rivalries to speak of. In the United States, most people can name a handful of bitter rivalries off the top of their head: Duke vs. UNC, Cal vs. Stanford, Michigan vs. Ohio State, and so on. In Britain, there’s Oxford vs. Cambridge, and that’s about it.

Even so, my friends at Oxford and Cambridge are rarely moved to support their university at any sporting event, except perhaps the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. They are surprised to hear that I spend most of my Friday and Saturday nights watching the men’s hockey team battling it out at Ingalls rink or watching the women’s volleyball team in Payne Whitney Gymnasium. In fact, rivalries in the UK have been reduced to the university league tables (our equivalent of the US News and World Report). Students seem more concerned about their university climbing up the rankings than moving up in the standings.

I am not suggesting that there is a lack of enthusiasm or respect for sports in the United Kingdom. Britain is drooling in anticipation for the 2012 Olympics and the country is obsessed with future glory for both its national football (soccer) team and Andy Murray, the number one British tennis player (and no. 5 in the world). The real problem with sports in the UK is that high school students are forced to make a choice between becoming a top athlete and a top student.

When I was applying to British universities, my teachers all told me the same thing: “Don’t mention rowing. It will hurt your chances of getting in.” I was shocked. It was repeatedly made clear to me that athletics had little value in my college education, so if I wanted to pursue rowing at a higher level, it would be better to set my sights on less academically-focused schools where there were excellent sport clubs nearby. In a sense, I was given a choice: be an athlete or be a student.

I would like to think that this is a misconception. I would like to think that my teachers were reacting to gossip and hearsay. However, my friends have confirmed just as much to me now that they are at university. Many of them have been discouraged from continuing their sports and many have either dropped out or only play socially. For those of my friends who did choose to focus on athletics, some regret what might have been had they ended up at Oxford or Cambridge.

Ultimately, I am not advocating for more or fewer student-athletes at Yale. However, I think it is undeniable that student-athletes have proven they deserve to be here. I would like to think that Yalies could recognize how Yale athletics have brought the school closer together. Anyone who has watched the men’s hockey team knows what I mean. If you don’t, please go to a game.

Some people doubt student-athletes, but the fact is that many of us are top students, too. And if you still don’t agree with me, then consider this: Yale offers me and all other student-athletes the choice of a first-class education and the chance to do what we love. Here, we don’t have to sacrifice either.

Jonathan Martin is a junior in Pierson College.


  • jnewsham

    Perhaps you overstate the furor overtaking the UK for the 2012 Olympics. Drooling, perhaps, but [remaining in their seats.][1]


  • FreddyHoneychurch

    There have been no serious suggestions that intercollegiate sports (student-athletes) should be abolished in America, not even at our elite institutions. *The suggestion is that student-athletes at our elite institutions should be admitted under the same rules as the rest of the student body.* We can then cheer for them just as we do now.

    As a visitor to this country Mr. Martin should be reminded that, apart from hockey this year, Yale also sees, “no stadiums filled with devoted student fans every time two universities square off against each other.” He’ll have to take our word that at those American universities that do play major team sports at the highest level, scholarships are liberally distributed to barely literate people who often have no academic profile while at college and ultimately never graduate. Still, no one’s suggesting that Texas drop its football program, Kentucky its basketball program. We like to see sports played well. It would be just as rash to suggest that Theo Walcott or Jack Wilshere should be reading Classics at Corpus Christi College Even worse would be a no-name tenth-tier footballer with no shot at ever playing professionally being gifted a slot at UCL, Warwick or York.

    Most Americans invested in higher education would be delighted to see, “the best students […] attending the best universities,” as you dismissively say happens in the UK. Eager students poring over university league tables seems to me an improvement over students poring the league rankings of Yale tennis, which no one does here anyway (poring over academic rankings is *still* far and away the most practiced sort of fandom at Yale).

    We have no issue with student-athletes admitted to Yale under the same rules as the normal student body. We recognize that Yale recruited athletes are better off for having attended Yale and that they made a shrewd decision in attending Yale. No one blames them. The question is one of policy moving forward. We’re comfortable with the fact that low-performing athletes are given steep admission advantages at Florida, Oklahoma and Alabama so that they might play sports *at the highest level in the world*; we wonder if such a policy is right for Yale, where world-class performance is largely confined to seminar rooms, lecture halls, and laboratories.

  • dm

    Good article. People who hate athletes at yale have no sense of the history of this place.

  • sonofmory

    @ FreddyHoneychurch: “The suggestion is that student-athletes at our elite institutions should be admitted under the same rules as the rest of the student body. We can then cheer for them just as we do now. ”

    I doubt that many would come out to watch a team full of walk-ons. While we are not winning Ivy championships in every sport, the level of play across the board would be sadly diminished without recruited student-athletes.

    and who is this “we” you speak of throughout your commentary? is that supposed to be the “most Americans” you reference? just wondering who this commentary if coming from.

    I have no idea why this student-athlete issue remains a debate every year. The University clearly values what these individuals do for the overall student body and our admissions standard for athletes are higher than any of University in the Ivy League and the nation. Furthermore, what these alumni give back to Yale both as donors and mentors is too significant for the administration to ignore!

  • RexMottram08


    I wish our professors were held to same standard you apply to Yale athletes…

    Just looking at the varies hyphenated “[ ]-Studies” departments…

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    What I mean is that Yale’s national athletic profile hovers right around zero. In widely played sports such as football and basketball, most of Yale’s recruits would not even be accepted as walk-ons at major programs. We are essentially already watching walk-ons when we go watch football or basketball. Yale basketball is ranked 143rd right now (RPI); Yale football is 143rd in a good year (all 120 FBS teams, plus at least 20 FCS teams tend to be better than Yale). Third-string players at dozens of these programs are more highly regarded athletes than Yale recruits. I do not intend this as an insult (seriously). The point is that, at least in these sports, national competitiveness and top-notch play are not really the objective.

    Yale is, of course, nationally and globally competitive in scores of academic endeavors. (@RexMottram08: your disdain for our elite “hyphenated ‘[ ]-Studies’ departments” can be met with disdain for our elite “sports” like rowing or squash, if you want to go down that road …) When rigorous published studies point out to us (profs/normies/admins/grads/whatever) an ever widening gap between the academic credentials (both before and during college) of recruits and of the normal student body, there is some reason to wonder if the current recruited-athlete admission scheme is worth it.

    That, in part, is why there is a debate. (The ballooning cost of employing ever more professionalized staffs of coaches, coordinators, trainers, etc., is another common sticking point.)

    @sonofmory: You suggest that recruited-athlete alumni give back more to Yale (in money and as “mentors”) than would the non-recruited athletes or “normies” who might take their place should the Ivies abandon preferential admissions for recruited athletes. I’m not sure why you think this is true. Perhaps Yale’s cozy and lucrative relationship with the financial industry has been partly driven by recruited athletes, but I’d have to be convinced. Maybe athletes are good fits for the financial industry because they are comfortable with a high work rate, obsessive tasks, and doing what they’re told (never mind what this says about the financial industry), but I don’t see how the quality of the athlete really matters. Why Wall St. wouldn’t prefer a Yale (Wo)Man who was *both* admitted normally *and* experienced the rigors of playing varsity sports is beyond me. Wall St., I hope to God, would rather have a Yale normie than a Vick, LeBron, Rothelisberger, Ray Lewis, or any such truly elite athlete.

  • exwalkon

    *”Admission to any British university is entirely dependent on your academic record.”*

    False. Formalized non-academic recruiting exists, just not for sports. Oxford and Cambridge recruit for their College choirs. These choirs *are* (unlike our athletic teams) among the best in England (and in the world, in fact). In fact, Choirs like the choir of Clare College Cambridge are basically professional level. That doesn’t mean we should give the Glee Club or the Duke’s Men 10 banded recruiting slots.

    Think about the common arguments for athletic recruiting, and substitute in “singing” for “athletics.” Singers at Yale are more social and less bookwormish than the average “normie.” Much of the campus loves going to good concerts; isn’t the high quality of a recruited ensemble crucial to the singing fan’s experience? Singing is excellent networking; the Whiffs tend to land cushy jobs after graduating. Singers are among Yale’s most involved (and heavily donating) alumni, as you know if you saw 800 people descend on campus last weekend for the Glee Club reunion. Yale has a wonderful tradition of singing; indeed it helped start American collegiate singing. Wouldn’t it be a shame if our singing standards dropped further? All the pro-recruiting arguments still apply, but, (I hope) most of us *don’t* want Yale to start recruiting for singing, and most of us understand why it would be a bad idea for it to do so. This should, perhaps, lead us to question the strength of some of the more common arguments in favor of athletic recruiting.

    Yes, it’s nice that we have a non-bookwormish, enthusiastic extracurricular culture. It’s one of the reasons I chose to apply early to Yale rather than, say, Swarthmore or Chicago. You’re wrong, though, if you think eliminating athletic recruiting would change that. As long as the admissions office continues to value well-roundedness and cultural diversity, there’ll still be plenty of three-season high school varsity captains enrolling at Yale. They’ll just all be “high-band.”

  • RexMottram08

    Yale walk-ons are generally terrible at their sport… the football team hasn’t had a walk-on play meaningful minutes in years…

    The real issue: What standard should admissions apply to ALL students? What makes someone worth admitting?

    We throw around garbage terms like “diversity” and “excellence” and “perspective”

    Yale wants the best. The best have to be recruited either formally (athletes) or informally (generous financial aide, Bulldog Days, marketing materials, etc).

  • BPC

    @FredHoneyChurch, re: “In widely played sports such as football and basketball, most of Yale’s recruits would not even be accepted as walk-ons at major programs.”

    More’s the pity, even if I disagree about your supposition that MOST of Yale’s recruits would not even be “invited (much less “accepted as”) walk-ons” at D-I schools. IF that is, in fact, even remotely true, it would only argue further to the point that Levin has done all he can to diminish (via de-emphasis) the roles of athletics at Yale. Bart Giamatti – a man who LOVED “his” Red Sox, and who later became Commissioner of MLB – was also complicit in this sad devolution.

    For “reference sake”, consider the period in which I was fortunate enough to play football at Yale: the early seventies.

    1970: Yale’s football team finished the season at 7-2, and both loses were IN the Ivy League; that’s how much stronger programs were. Dartmouth won The Lambert Trophy, inflaming the passions of Brown alum “Joe Pa” at Penn State. Yale alone had THREE players drafted by the NFL: Jim Gallager, Don Martin and Tom Neville. Don went on to play three seasons in the NFL, while Tom opted for a Rhodes Scholarship and two years at Oxford. In that regard, Tom was one of TWO Yale football players to earn Rhodes Scholarships; future Mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, was the other. In addition, Yale fullback, Bill Primps, came within a “whisker” of earning a Rhodes, as well.

    1972: Again, our team went 7-2, crushing Dartmouth (45-14, at The Bowl) and surmounting a Harvard halftime lead of 17-0, to win, resoundingly, in CAMBRIDGE by a final score of 28-17! Both Dick Jauron and Bob Leyen were drafted within the first six rounds. Dick went on to a long-enduring (presently as defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns) NFL career, with nine seasons as a player (including the ’74 Pro Bowl) and more than a quarter of a century as a coach (including NFC “Coach of the Year” with Chicago in ’01). Bob became “Dr. Robert Leyen” and practiced as an orthopaedic surgeon until his death just two years ago.

    1974: Ivy Championship for Yale’s 8-1 team (loss to Harvard, in Cambridge, was the sole blemish) and FOUR players were drafted: Tom Doyle, Rudy Green, Greg Dubinetz and Elvin Charity. Greg played in the WFL, the CFL and the NFL (Redskins) before dying, tragically, in an automobile crash in his late-20s. Tom, Rudy and Elvin have all gone on to become very accomplished attorneys.

    In other words, at that time (and through the early ’80’s), Yale may not have had the DEPTH of good D-I programs, but we always had a number of players who had been actively recruited by these same D-I schools and likely would have enjoyed significant success ANYWHERE.

    Sadly, today’s Yale students will never see what we all assumed would be an ongoing legacy of athletic success, in conjunction with academic success. Count on Richard Levin to see to that.

  • RexMottram08

    I love how Yale’s PC police decry the results of standardized testing…. until the test-takers are athletes not annointed “under-represented minorities”

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    And Yale football was 4-5 in ’71 and 6-3 in ’73. Great. The team’s had pretty decent success in the last few years too!

    The University of Miami (for example) has more players on NFL rosters *right now* than Yale has *ever* put into the NFL. We invented football and have had some latter-day moments of minor importance, but our time dominating the sport ended with WWI.

    Please remember that admissions for athletes at Yale in the old days (and for women, blacks, Jews, poor people, etc.) varied a lot over time and in no way resembles how Yale or any other university in this country now works. Things have changed.

    @RexMottram08: Drop the straw man stuff. We’re sticking with the issues raised by recent YDN Op-Ed pieces and discussed in the comment threads appended to them.

  • BPC

    @Fred. Forgive me for not realizing that you are a monumental buttwad; I would have written differently, had I realized this.

    Now “duly apprised”, I will put it in terms that you might be able to more readily glean the gist of. My name is Brian Clarke, I am fifty-eight-years-old, have had surgery on both ankles, one knee and one shoulder, as well as a detached retina. I am a shadow of whatever my former self might have been.

    That said, I will delightedly stomp your stupid self into the ground if you EVER have the guts to “call out”, in a personal setting, my teammates and me from those painful (even at 6-3, beating both Princeton and Harvard) seasons. I will also, ala Joe Willie in ’69, GUARANTEE the result; i.e., I bury you.

    Now, consider that I was the kicker on the team and ask yourself what the “real players” from even those “inferior” teams must have been like.

    You dope.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Most Yale Men know how to carry on a debate without resorting to threats of physical violence. Most learned this as children. Perhaps you’ll learn this by the end of your sixtieth decade on this planet, Mr. Clarke!

  • eli1

    There’s one argument that has been brought up repeatedly by Fred which is both ridiculous and naive. That is his argument that Yale teams should be made up entirely of walk-ons who got in on their own “merit,” whatever that means. Just think about the absurdity of that “ideal” if it ever came to fruition. For one, there would cease to be a Yale football team. I don’t see many 285 lb normies walking around campus who would be able to hold up 1 play, never mind 1 game in the trenches. In fact, I’m pretty sure the entire team would either end up quitting or injured, which would be quite a shame for the university that created modern football. Additionally, think about what would happen to other sports. Have you ever seen the talent in IMs? Do you think a B Hoops all-star team could hold their own against Stanford? (not A hoops, which is usually made up of recruited athletes who don’t deserve to be here) Do you think an IM womens volleyball all-star team (which no one shows up to in the first place) could score even one point against Penn? Let’s face the facts. People who “deserve” to be here, such as yourself, are really not very good at sports (which must be sad considering your commentary on Yale’s present teams). These people would not be able to compete, let alone fill a roster for many of Yale’s current teams. So I guess what you are really advocating is ending the athletic program altogether, which President Levin is pretty much doing. That’s fine, but I would love to see the reaction and what Yale would become if that ever actually happened.

  • BPC

    @Fred: Let’s get this straight, you weasel. “Yale men” – once upon a time, in land far, far away – subscribed devoutly to the concept of “mens sana in corpore sano.”

    With each additional, grudging comment that you post (My, we certainly have a great deal vested in something to which we take such exception, don’t we?), the implied lack of “corpore sano” reveals itself more tellingly as THE driving force behind your input. What happened in your “youth” to leave such a residue of resentment? Some jock steal your girlfriend at the junior prom when you left to change your diaper?

    In my initial comment, I gave you – in educated terms – a “history lesson” about Yale football: something you, so clearly, lack. You, mousy sort that you are (What’s YOUR name, “Fred?”), opted to demean something – the physical AND mental efforts extended by a collective of men whom I still consider my Brothers – about which you know jack.

    In other words, you are a mealy-mouthed, embittered-by-lack-of-physical-acumen, sideline scribe who fancies himself to be “above it all.” You’re not above it. You have never yet risen TO “it”, and you likely never will.

    I, in contrast, will go to my grave denouncing – in “layman’s terms” – your ilk, since I have always loathed the little freaks who inhabit the fringes, while denigrating those in the fray.

  • BPC

    PS, Fred: I was also a National Merit Finalist, had an “uncorrected” SAT (the OLD one, before it was re-weighted to make underachievers feel better about themselves) of 1397, was recruited by all of the Ivies (as well as a number of scholarship schools) and STILL only matriculated at Yale after a period on the wait list.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    *All Ivies* would, of course, have to stop lowering academic standards for incoming athletes in order for the new set-up to work equitably. The Ivies would be drawing from the same well of talent, just as they do now; this well of talent would just have a different academic profile. We’d compete with linemen under 285 lbs (like we and all other programs always did until just a few years ago), and those linemen would still be in a lower category of athlete than the 320+ lbs linemen favored by major FBS programs these days. Those Yale squads of the early ’70s (we read in this string that they were manly and fierce, the very epitome of an athletic ideal) competed with very few, if any, 285 pounders; correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Brian Clarke.) Remember that there always were and still are many devoted athletes who gained admission to Yale on their own merit, i.e, without being given a codified bump-up in the Academic Index and a gentlemanly back-door entry to this university.

    I wholly agree that physical fitness should be emphasized at Yale and in America. It’s hardly worth detailing, however, the avalanche of evidence showing how physically dangerous and debilitating it can be for people to compete in varsity athletics. Injuries now and injuries for the rest of your life. A healthy body is best not pursued through varsity athletics. These matters are very much in the news today. Let me finally suggest that, if football playing does in fact equate with a *corpus sanum* and if the opinions of certain commenters here are more than data points, then football playing is at least not likely to leave one with a *mens sana* later in life.

  • zk13

    Yale admits students based on excellence. This excellence is demonstrated all around campus in the classroom, performance halls, theaters, and athletic fields. Students here excelled in many facets of life prior to Yale and every little bit helped them get in. I am a Sophomore normie and was not recruited for any sports at Yale. I went through the normal admittance process, and in theory was admitted solely on my ‘academic record.’ However, that academic record includes the fact that I was a three sport varsity athlete, captain, and an all-state player. I do not think I would have gotten into Yale without this listed on my application. I demonstrated excellence in the classroom by getting good grades, but also outside the classroom. None of the athletes at this school did poorly academically in high school. Sure, I may have done better than some of them on report cards, but they were also probably more capable on an athletic field. Similarly, two people with identical academic records may be distinguished by one’s profound capability to play the violin. Yale is not a contest for highest GPA, it is an institution for extremely talented individuals to come together and create an integrated society of people excelling at everything they do, including sports.

  • JohnnyE

    I cannot believe a 58 year old man just threatened to beat up someone on a internet newspaper comment board for arguing with him. The utter childishness of this is astounding.

  • morse_14

    Yeah, but the conditions back in the 70s were different. For the class of ’85, the admissions rate was 20%, which was a then-record for Yale’s lowest admissions rate! There were much fewer people vying for the same number of spots back in the 70s, which makes your argument applicable to a totally different paradigm. It’s not that people object to athletes: people object to athletics being treated differently from other extracurricular activities in terms of admissions. When only 7.9% of applicants are admitted, seeing low-band athletes here when there were many academically qualified students rejected is a bitter pill to swallow.

    Also, not to be rude, but National Merit Finalist isn’t a huge deal. The majority of my suite (including myself) won the National Merit Scholarship. It’s not like that’s a rare accomplishment around here, at least for those admitted for their academic merit.

  • FreddyHoneychurch


    Of course Yale considers more than academic achievement in selecting admits! There is, though, an academic threshold under which it is *very* difficult for a student to be admitted … unless, s/he happens to be a recruited athlete. A formal and codified separate admissions process *is not* an option for applicants who have shown world-class “extracurricular” abilities in any number of areas (and remember, these people are often nationally or globally *elite* performers; recruited Yale athletes, with some exceptions, are not).

    You are correct in spotting an informal shift in admissions philosophy at Yale, that of movement away from prizing well-rounded *individuals* and towards shaping a well-rounded *class*. Still, the star violinist, actress, Iraq vet, chemist, poet, dancer, gardener, NGO-founder, debater, minister, dog breeder, chef, etc., does not benefit from an entirely distinct way to be admitted to Yale: They must demonstrate that they have the academic credentials to be considered more closely for admission to Yale (a *university*!!!) and then hope that the “extracurriculars” put them over the top.

  • 201Y1

    @eli1: Are you kidding? Hate to break it to you, but the majority of college athletic programs in this country are not D-1, and therefore don’t recruit. The athletes at schools like Williams and Amherst are all “walk-ons” by this standard, and I guarantee they’re not a bunch of lightweights who played JV in high school. Are they as good as most D-1 programs? Not usually, no, but neither is Yale. But you can bet they’re all committed, legitimate athletes who could probably best you on both fronts.

    At the end of the day, this argument pertains to crew, hockey, squash and that’s about it. Those are the sports that would lose something tangible if we couldn’t recruit. No one cares if football wins or loses, we’ll still come watch regardless (the last 9 Games are proof of that); nothing else performs highly enough to justify the number of recruits they soak up.

    Also, BPC… get a life, man. Seriously.

  • JackJ

    I’m confused. Do Yale athletes not graduate? Is that the problem? Are they somehow hurting the reputation of Yale because they’re not able to carry the academic workload? Since the majority of the posters seem to be Eli’s current or former why the debate? You weren’t kept out of Yale because an athlete took your place. And if you are a poster who was there is always Harvard, Princeton, Williams, Sewanee, Michigan, Oberlin, W&L, William and Mary, Virginia, Stanford, etc, etc, etc, where you can obtain an education every bit as good as that available at Yale.

    Why is this even a debate? Whining is unbecoming especially of those who believe themselves elite.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    … and who knows what will happen to Ivy squash if the Trinity model continues to spread.
    As if on cue, an interesting article in this week’s NY Times Magazine:


    @JackJ: I’d guess that 95 percent to people who *applied* to Yale would have managed to graduate. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Yale is set up as a place where graduation is all but secured. Heck, never receiving lower than a B is all but secured! The trick is getting in. But if Yale starts admitting the middle 7.5% percent of applicants, then it’s suddenly not Yale anymore: it’s Brown! I certainly think a person can wrangle a fine education out of Sewanee or Michigan or whatever, but they’re not Yale. If they are, then we’ve been duped. Try to get a job with a hedge fund right out of Utah St.! No one is “whining”: this is a debate about the future of Yale. There’s nothing “unbecoming” about questioning received ideas and being concerned about how Pres. Levin intends to shepherd this university. If there’s an origin to this unbecoming whining, it’s the two unsolicited Op-Ed pieces submitted to the YDN by Mr. Zupsic and aby Mr. Martin, no?

  • dalet5770

    There is a Novel sport that would render Basketball and Frisbee and god forbid American football irrelevant. Aussie rules football has the skill and poise of rugby and American Football with the Added dimension of the dribble – It is a test of endurance and not some petty prank. It deserves a look. At last the song goes at last

  • The Anti-Yale

    I wish I could get worked up about sports. It all seems so mindless. Maybe that’s its value: Clearing the mind of the REAL angst in life with little artificial surrogate angsts.

  • dalet5770

  • dalet5770


  • 201Y1

    @JackJ: I think people are upset because they knew plenty of bright, talented, engaged kids who were rejected from Yale… and meanwhile, there are football players who never go to class, cheat when they do, meet no one outside of their team, and contribute nothing to the Yale community (not even football, in many cases; the majority of football recruits sit the bench). College admissions is a zero-sum game, and although there are plenty of deserving recruits getting in, there are also plenty who don’t deserve to be here, and are taking the spot of someone who does.

  • The Anti-Yale

    What happened to the days when as Coach Carm Cozza told me circa 1980, “every member of the entering class of Yale that year was valedictorian of their class” ?

  • JackJ

    @honeychurch: You have been duped. Yale is a fine school and the average Yale graduate will do well in the world after college but no better than the average graduate of Williams or Reed or Washington and Lee. If your goal is to work for hedge fund then you may want to take a moment and review your values. If you really want to make money and think you’re smart then you don’t need to go to college at all. See Gates, Jobs, etc resumes wherein they chuck Harvard and Reed. Or if you want that hedge fund job you should have studied under Don Brownstein at Kansas. His BA is from Queens College. If Yale provides you a good classical education you will at some point study the power of myth in society and you’ll read Bultmann and Gotesky. An Ivy League education assuring you entre into the higher echelons of society is such a myth. You may have better wasta (as the Arabs would say) but you’ll find that knowledge-wise you have no advantage over your counterparts from other colleges.

    @201Y1: pretty strong accusations and I should think fairly easily proven, thus please share your facts and we’ll be convinced. But before you do answer this: how many non athletic Yale students cheat and don’t go to class? If Yale had an honor system you would be able to submit your proof to the regulating body and have these miscreants expelled or at least furloughed as is the case at Princeton. So then a slightly more than casual observer would ask: can you be a truly world class institution if such behavior as you claim is allowed to persist? As far as deserving to be anywhere I think you should review this sense of entitlement. In our Republic we compete for what we obtain. At least that’s the theory. If part of the competition involves being good at team or individual sports then it behooves us to work at becoming so. And I contest your choice of the word “rejected.” Not to be chosen is not being “rejected” it is simply finishing lower on the list than there are places and as I’ve noted not being at Yale hasn’t kept millions of other people from becoming highly successful at their chosen profession or vocation. If Yale or for that matter any single school or group of schools is your definition of achieving success then your world is too small. As far as education is concerned consider Matt Damon’s advice to the graduate student in the bar in “Good Will Hunting.”

  • Yale12

    “What happened to the days when as Coach Carm Cozza told me circa 1980, “every member of the entering class of Yale that year was valedictorian of their class” ?”

    He was exaggerating. Admissions to Yale has gotten far, far more competitive since the 80s. It was 20% in ’81; it’s 7% now. But the thing about valedictorians is still not true. I wasn’t even valedictorian of my graduating class, and I know plenty of people who weren’t. Yale probably *could* accept only valedictorians, though, but a valedictorian does not always an interesting, dynamic student make.

  • JackJ

    @Yale12: Many secondary schools no longer have valedictorians due to numerous law suits filed by parents over the years. Those that do generally have some pre-established criteria so that whomever meets the criteria is designated a valedictorian. For example my niece was graduated from a very prestigious secondary school in a class of 460. There were 64 valedictorians in her class. In the 1980’s the class valedictorian was an individual who stood alone at the top of the his/her competitive group.

    As for your numbers re acceptance, what you’re pointing out is that the population of the US increased dramatically between 1980 and 2010. In fact the population change during that period was plus 96 million which is North of a 30 % overall increase. Additionally there are thousands more foreign applicants for Yale admission then in 1980 again increasing the pool and lowering the percentage accepted. Almost all schools experienced similar drops in acceptance rates. The only ones that didn’t were those that added teaching resources and expanded the size of their entering freshman classes. The only thing it says about competition is there are more runners in the race. The fastest will still win.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “But the thing about valedictorians is still not true”.

    Eating lunch in the late ’70’s early ’80’s at Patricia’s Restaurant with the Yale Track timekeepers (of which I was a junior member) I recall Carm Cozza joining our group and telling us how hard it was to recruit for the football team, since “last year every member of the entering class was valedictorian of their class”.

    I believe Carm.

  • Yale12

    I mean, if you want to get down to it, my uncle graduated from Yale in 1980. He was not the valedictorian of his high school class. So “Carm” was incorrect.

    I think you’re having trouble distinguishing rhetoric from, you know, actual facts.

  • Yale12

    JackJ: A race is objective; who ever crosses the finish line first, wins. College admissions are not. Argue about whether or not the quality of applications are increasing, but it’s a lot harder to get in nowadays simply *because* of the increased numbers. It’s a lot more difficult to distinguish yourself from among 26,000 applicants than from among 13,000.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “I think you’re having trouble distinguishing rhetoric from, you know, actual facts.”

    Maybe so. I like the rhetoric version. Sort of like religion, you believe it anyway.

  • eli1

    @201Y1, hate to break it to you, but you have no idea what you are talking about. Schools at the Division 2 and 3 levels recruit just as aggressively, if not more aggressively, than Yale does. The only difference lies in the fact that division 3 schools, like Yale, cannot offer athletic scholarships. You cite Amherst and Williams as schools that have teams made up entirely of “walk-ons,” however, this is certainly not the case. These schools admit athletes with lesser academic records than the overall student population all the time. I know this because I was recruited by Amherst and Williams, and they were ready to make the same athletic exceptions that Yale used to admit me, despite the fact that I really didn’t “deserve” to be there.

  • dalet5770

    My friend who lived with me at the dorms down stairs from me lent his car to a New Haven resident. the joy of getting it back was hasened as the rear window was shot out. Rear window Jimmy Stewart

  • proyaleathlete

    As a pro athlete, it’s sad to see that this debate still rages. What I continue to see overlooked is that President Levin is the one who made comments to the effect of not wanting “quite so many athletes.” It’s ironic that President Levin say something like this after I know he would consistently attend Yale athletic events (which I’m sure he continues to do) and would even come into the dressing room after a big win to go around the room and shake each player’s hand! Now as a current pro athlete, I revel in the fact that I can proudly boast to my current colleagues that Yale does well in both athletics and academics. I’ve bragged about both Yale athletic & academic.The end all, be all is that each and every student at Yale deserves to be at the school. They were accepted on their own merit, regardless of their talents. Further, I’m proud to be part of a school where it can stand up against some of the world’s greatest academics AND athletes. Although not all sports at Yale do well nationally, it is more important to note what some of those athletes not in national rankings bring to the table and not the athletic spectrum. These include humanitarian efforts (read anything about Mandi Schwartz), entreprenuership (YouRenew), and academics (Casey Gerald). These may be specific examples but the point I’m attempting to make is that many athletes contribute to many non-athletic forums. Such efforts are only enriched by the community & culture that Yale provides – this includes both athletics and academics. More to the point is that although many students (athletes or not) come to Yale to get a great education, they usually come out of Yale more rounded and adaptable to the current demands of the world. Athletics provide a medium for non-athletes and athletes alike to bond together in a common goal – can anyone say they’re not happy that the Yale Men’s Hockey team is having such great success? In contrast, for the non-athletes, do you think that athletes don’t care about your non-athletic accomplishments? I, for one, may not have personally known specific accomplished academic Elis in my class, but I was nonetheless appreciative of their efforts and glad that they did not go unnnoticed outside the Yale community. Although I’m sure this debate will continue for years to come, I do instead hope that my comments put some perspective into how athletes and non-athletes are all Yalies nonethless. They should continue to support each other in all aspects so that Yale is not just a school known for one field of expertise, but a plethora of areas that make Yale a school revered throughout the world for its diverse, well-balanced curriculum that allows for excellence in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, etc. For God, for country, but above all, for Yale, because without each other succeeding in the world after college, we wouldn’t be able to say that classmate of mine won a Nobel Prize or I was in a class with the guy now playing in the NHL or MLB!

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Ugh. Times a billion.

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