Re: Admission and athletics

I will begin by stating that, on a personal level, I feel I could fill pages arguing the merit of athletics in individual development. Throughout my career, I have had the honor of experiencing Yale both as a multi-sport athlete, and now without athletics altogether. I can honestly say I have learned more about myself and those around me through my athletics experience than I have in any class.

However, my basis for writing this contrasts a recent column in the News (“Admission and athletics,” Feb. 26, 2017) in that I wish to divorce my argument from what could be considered my personal bias. Let’s consider the facts.

First, Cole Aronson ’18 notes that Yale should stop recruiting athletes given that “sports have nothing to do with the mission of a college as [he] sees it.” But has he seen it?

Yale’s mission statement is “to seek exceptionally promising students of all backgrounds from across the nation and around the world and to educate them, through mental discipline and social experience, to develop their intellectual, moral, civic and creative capacities to the fullest. The aim of this education is the cultivation of citizens with a rich awareness of our heritage to lead and serve in every sphere of human activity.”

I would like to highlight a few points in particular. Yale seeks students “of all backgrounds,” to educate them through both “mental discipline and social experience” with the aim to lead and serve in “every sphere of human activity.”

Now, I could easily argue where sports fits into that mission. But I think Aronson himself articulated it best: “Talent and diligence may earn success, but they won’t suffice for influence. Even very skilled practitioners require courage, amicability and integrity if they wish to lead in their fields. So besides searching for the best intellects, Yale commends applicants who have persuaded peers to follow them — as newspaper editors, student council presidents and captains of all kinds of teams.”

It seems there may be more of a place for athletics in his own argument than he realized.

One thing I have learned throughout my time at Yale is that there are two categories of opinions — distinguishable not by their content, but by the care taken in their development. The first is devoted, the second is lazy. Suggesting that athletics does not belong on campus is surely the latter. So before Aronson accuses student-athletes of being incapable of doing their homework, he should at least prove that he can do his.

Gretchen Tarrant ’17