One would think at such a prestigious university such as Yale there would be a mutual respect for individuals and the unique areas in which they excel. But as many athletes found on this past Friday after reading Jessamyn Blau’s column (“Athletics injure Yale’s academic purpose,” 10/10) that there seems to be a lack of respect for the ability that athletes have to perform well in the classroom, in physical competition, and in the world after Yale University. The article in question makes some rather questionable and unrealistic interpretations within its argument on why athletics are a hindrance to the educational atmosphere of Yale.
According to the view taken by Blau, Yale’s admission system is all wrong. Students with many different exceptional talents would only be lucky enough to gain entrance to this University if they had the highest possible GPA’s and SAT scores. Athletics and other extracurricular activities allow for individuals not just to participate in the events themselves, but to create new friendships and take their minds off the stresses of class. Class work in and of itself is a personal venture which does not allow anyone to experience the fruitfulness that the interaction with other people can create. No school wants to be entirely compromised of students who received a 1600 on the SAT, a 36 on the ACT, 4.0 GPA, but were involved in no other activities. It takes a much stronger person to balance good grades with other activities. Anyone can sit in the library or dorm and study all day and get an A on an exam, but much more respect is due for the student who can perform well both in the classroom and out, even if they do not achieve the academic perfection of which Ms. Blau speaks. What would remain is not the vivid, diverse, and well rounded Yale we have today but an institution full of individuals with perfect GPA’s and SAT scores, lacking diversity which is arguably Yale’s greatest asset.
One of the most shocking things about this stance, though, is that it goes beyond athletes. If athletics injures the academics of Yale then it is not a far reach, on the same lines of logic, to say that affirmative action causes similar academic injuries. Affirmative action or an emphasis on multiculturalism in admissions creates diversity, which thus makes Yale a center of learning, not only in the classroom, but in the everyday interactions of its students through uniting many different and unique individuals. However, if we are to go the suggested route and only accept those with the highest grade point averages and aptitude test scores, then this learning outside the classroom disappears and the priceless tool of learning through personal social interaction would no longer exist.
It is no surprise that student athletes are very successful people after college. For their whole lives they have been coached, corrected, yelled at, overworked, humbled, have performed under pressure and they know how to compete. Then, in the world after Yale when they get a real job, former athletes are aptly prepared for all types of adversity, because compared to the strain of athletics, that 12 o’clock deadline isn’t so stressful.
The final message that is condoned by Blau’s article is that all extracurricular activities are negative because they cause one to miss out on the primary purpose of Yale, which is education. However, it is those very people that want to ignore extracurricular activities as educational that are missing out on the primary purpose of Yale. Yale is here to give us an education not only in the classical studies, but in the realities of life and all the wonderful things that are offered by people of many different interests. So if you want to emphasize education, then open up your mind, realize there is more to life than that book in front of you, and see the world from a new set of eyes, for Yale is giving you every chance to do so.
Michael Dunleavy is a sophomore in Morse College and Carl Williott is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College. Both are members of the football team.