To the Editor:

Jacob Remes’ ’02 column on admissions policy toward athletes (“Yale should revoke special admissions for athletes,” 1/30) was thoughtful and well-articulated. Whatever each of us may think about his conclusions, though, it’s not likely that Yale will change its policies radically, at least in the short term.

The practical issue is, therefore: What happens to athletes once they’re admitted?

Too often the story goes something like this. The admitted athlete is recruited for her ability at a sport but has interests that go beyond it. Once here, she finds the sport takes up so much time that she can’t devote enough effort to her other passions. But pressure, both from coaches and from teammates, prevents her from stopping an activity that has become a hindrance.

This is awful.

Whatever has gotten us in to Yale should have nothing to do with how we live once we’re here. This is essentially a humanistic place, and by this I mean an institution not centered on any particular activity or interest, though always stressing the life of the mind; one that understands both the range of its students’ talents and the freedom required to let those talents be displayed.

We only discover our interests and talents experimentally, and if the constraints of athletics prevent us from experimenting, then they’re doing us no service. The constraint, in the mind of the athlete, often becomes an unbreakable limit; she starts believing she’s no more than a dumb jock, and so actually becomes a dumb jock.

The culture of Yale, both in and out of varsity athletics, needs to change. An athlete is a human being first and foremost and should be encouraged to think of herself as such.

Benjamin Gould ’02

January 30, 2002