To the Editor:
In his column, “Either go big, Bulldogs, or just go home” (4/15), Ned Fulmer claims that the athlete/non-athlete divide that exists at Yale is the byproduct of athletic recruiting and that we live with this necessary evil even though that athletic recruiting which causes it is only gingerly pursued. The column overlooks, however, the fundamental difference in vision that distinguishes athletics at a school like Stanford from athletics at Yale.
Varsity athletics at Stanford involves a five-year commitment by students who are essentially paid to compete. The place of athletics at a scholarship school is to bring in money and to boost the morale of a student fan base. Yale’s vision of athletics, on the other hand, is to provide students with an opportunity to pursue excellence that is fully integrated with the other components of an undergraduate education, based on the understanding that there is more to intellect and character than simple academic caliber. (Disruptions in “gut” lectures, by the way, happen because they are guts; the presence of athletes is not necessary. Anyone who wants to avoid such disruptions can take a class that is not a gut.)
This is not say that Stanford athletes derive no personal growth from athletics, or that student morale is not lifted by an Eli victory in The Game, but the emphasis of the two types of programs is different, and each will attract prospective students with different goals.
Each will also attract some of the best athletes in the world. While the performance of some of Yale’s varsity athletes is “mediocre,” others represent the United States in international competition, and the rest are somewhere in between. The athlete/non-athlete divide lives on not because athletes are low achievers physically or academically, but because both athletes and non-athletes often lack a mutual respect for the pursuits and interests of the other group.
There is, however, one goal that all Yalies are here to pursue: an education. At a time when “tolerance” has become a campus buzzword, it seems that there is more progress to be made toward that common goal by finding out what people with different interests have to offer, rather than mindlessly transplanting another school’s athletics program.
The writer is a senior in Trumbull College. He is a member of the men’s varsity swim team.