Here was the heading in a Wall Street Journal story today:
followed by this sub-heading:
Billionaire Joe Tsai’s rebuffed offer to fund a lacrosse ‘bubble’ is one sign of how pressure is mounting on the conference that never returned to the field.
My first reaction was – are you kidding me?
Is sports that important that you would try to bypass all the regulations that the Ivy League has put in place (they put all sports on hold last March, and they re still on hold), just so that you could watch your team play a game?
Forget about how unfair such a move would have been to all the other athletes in other Ivy League sports. Just because lacrosse found a wealthy donor, should they get special privilege?
No, I’m thinking about the non-athletes at the Ivy League schools. They have had to make sacrifices during the pandemic as well; why should athletes get special treatment?
And I’m thinking about all the 18-22 year olds who don’t go to college, who might be struggling to find work, and have face major difficulties during the pandemic. Should Ivy League athletes get special treatment when these young men and women are not?
And I am certainly not anti-sport.
I was a college athlete for all four years, and I loved everything about the experience. But I don’t think sports should get any special treatment over performing arts, or robotics clubs, or debate teams, or what ever activity a college student might find attractive. But if all of these sorts of activities were put on hold, then why should sports teams be any different.
Last time I checked, the mission of a university is education, not sports.
If sports can help enhance the experience, then I am all for it. But again, they should not get preference over other college extra-curricular activities.
I also don’t like the idea of people with money having undue influence over college decisions.
So I was quite happy when Yale turned down Joe Tsai’s offer.
There were quite a few comments left to the article, with a healthy mix of people arguing both sides, and of course, many of the comments turning into a political discussion.
But here a couple of comments that more clearly state what I am trying to say:
- I understand the frustration of Ivy League athletes who are unable to compete due to Covid. When I was a cox’n at Dartmouth, we were barred from the 1987 IRA Regatta due to a Measles outbreak on campus. But, the idea that the Ivy League should create “athlete bubbles” to preserve sports competition is batty. Sports are supposed to be an “extra-curricular activity,” and getting students back on the field should take a back seat to getting students back in classrooms. The Ivies mostly have this right, and I sure hope they don’t give in to pressure from Mr. Tsai and others who seem willing to put the cart before the horse.
- I believe that the Ivy Leagues are the ones that got it “right.” They have their priorities in order (athletics do not supersede academics) with the mindset to not “pamper” and “favor” athletes over the rest of the student body. In my opinion, the exorbitant amount of money that universities pour into their athletic programs, coaches, and athletes rather than into the hands of students who cannot afford to attend college except as a “servant” of the athletic budget has always been unconscionable. When a varsity football coach of a STATE PUBLIC university is awarded a salary in the MILLIONS of dollars, there is something very wrong with American education values.
And here is a response to the following line from the article:
‘I do wonder sometimes if sports are being singled out,’ said George Pyne, chief executive of Bruin Sports Capital and a Brown football alum.”
No. Athletes are being treated like all the other students.
Again, I feel bad for these athletes. But I feel bad for all the students at the Ivies whose college experience has been quite different from what was expected. And giving the athletes special treatment doesn’t seem like the solution.
I just hope that college campuses return to normality in the fall, for all students…