Ignorance on athletes

As the head baseball coach at Yale for the past 25 years, I have read quite a few opinion pieces about athletes and their place at Yale. I have never responded before, but I feel compelled to in this instance (“Admission and athletics,” Feb. 27, 2017).

As a former English teacher, I found Cole Aronson’s ’18 op-ed poorly written with absolutely no facts to support his assertions. I taught English at a community college; his article would have earned a C- in a composition class.

I am tired of our athletes being labeled this way. Aronson cites ESPN, alluding to poor grammar from a star center. What does that have to do with athletes at Yale? Has Aronson ever heard them being interviewed after a game? He would notice the difference. In my 25 years at Yale, I have coached players who have become top doctors. Powerhouse lawyers. A sitting congressman. Are athletes a notch or two below Aronson’s intellectual supremacy? Some here have even become Rhodes Scholars. How is that possible?

Aronson also has no idea how Yale admissions works. A committee reviews each application and decides if a student-athlete would not only survive but thrive. In 24 years, I have had three young men not get their degrees. One of them was drafted after his junior year and is currently in professional baseball. Seven junior draftees have returned and finished their degrees. Admissions looks at athletes with the same discerning eye as other applicants. It doesn’t matter if I tell them a recruit is the next Derek Jeter; he will not gain admission unless they are convinced he belongs here.

In no other area of life — other than the military — are leaders groomed more than in athletics. I have spoken to many employers who have chosen college athletes on the basis that they were part of a team.

All who criticize athletic recruitment should take 20 hours out of their week and devote it to something other than academics. Become a runner. Swim laps. Shoot baskets for 20 hours. The activity isn’t important. See what that does to your GPA. I think it will give students a deeper appreciation for the world of the Yale athlete.

Life is full of choices. Our athletes chose this lifestyle. They represent this school with pride, dignity and distinction. I am proud to be associated with them, even the ones I don’t coach. Watching Kate Grace ’11 in the most recent Olympics was a thrill for me. I was screaming at the TV during the finals. Screaming with pride.

I am certain a majority of students do not feel the way Aronson does. I am grateful that University President Peter Salovey does not. He came to our game last fall when we celebrated our 150th season. Yale Athletics will continue to thrive under his leadership and that of Athletics Director Tom Beckett. Aronson’s opinion piece unjustly dismisses an entire group of people.

John Stuper

Head Coach, Yale Baseball