Lewis & ClarkCollege of Arts & Sciences

The Neverending Story

December 04, 2009

by Robin Aubry

Frank Deford, a sports columnist for NPR, once said, “It is simply beyond the capacity of avaricious men to create a fair system wherein genuine amateur students play so that they might accumulate great sums of money and prestige for their repositories of higher learning.” In other words, jocks ain’t scholars.

I strongly disagree.

However, this raises a critique of student-athletes held by the lion’s share of Lewis & Clark students.

“Students think we’re like the jocks in the movies,” suggested baseball player Roland Greene (’11), “as if all we do is party.”

But is that the case?

We are a Division III school. “The goal in Division III is to both have fun and get an education,” said Greene. Our athletics program has done well in both of these fields - last year, 59 athletes earned NWC Scholar-Athlete recognition, reserved for athletes who retain a 3.5 GPA or better. This year even more athletes are expected to earn a place on the list, as the amount of student-athletes has grown.

Still, many students feel uncomfortable around certain student-athletes and others question why the athletes are at this institution. Moreover, it seems as if most of the focus goes towards the men’s football, baseball, and basketball teams.

It was difficult to get quotes from students regarding this issue, as many who I spoke to felt uneasy about their comments being published; however, there were some exceptions:

“When I see a baseball player,” said Christopher Anderson (‘11), “I immediately think that that person is a rude, messy, homophobic, arrogant douche bag.” During his first year of residence in Copeland hall, he reported that he lived across from a quad baseball players, who often left messes in the hall and tossed the word “fag” around daily.

I suppose I should put it out now that I myself am an athlete on the baseball team. Does that put a blemish on my journalistic credentials?

“We’re not on scholarships, we’re playing for fun,” said baseball player Greene.

“There are some bad apples from both sides,” said baseball player David La Douceur (‘10) “and that’s how stereotypes are made.”

“This school makes itself out to be accepting, but what I’ve seen is that you’re only accepted if you believe the same thing,” said baseball player Zach Perez (‘13).

Other athletes I spoke to reported hardships with classes because they had to miss days for travel to competitions. One student told me he felt “punished” by professors for being athletes, an idea echoed by other athletes.

I do not expect this article to make any student turn to the nearest football player and give him a hug, teary-eyed and apologetic. I do hope, though, that students will take in some reconsideration the next time they judge an entire team or even program based on a few “bad apples.”

Several students have brought forth major complaints with athletics and the athletic administration. You’ll remember two weeks ago when there was a misunderstanding of an athletics promotion for football and basketball games. There have also been some allegations made by students that the Pioneer football team’s victory against Crown for homecoming was paid for, with Lewis & Clark paying the allegedly worst Minnesota team to come so they could lose. Two things need to be made clear: first, Crown College is actually a competitive team in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. Second, Crown College had volunteered to come only after a team we had faced last year, Principia College at Illinois, couldn’t make it in the first place. Both of these incidences were reported by students with such poor information and hurtful implications; and judging by their frequency, one begins to think that the allegations are started simply by the student community assuming the worst of our athletics program.