For over a year and a half now, I have sat back and watched an interesting debate unravel. This athletics debate is often incorrectly labeled, however. The higher beings at our institution have, in a politically correct manner, marked the discussion as having significance to the entire athletic assembly. Why don’t we stop kidding ourselves and just come out and say, “the football team and hockey team here at Williams bring the rest of the community down?”
In the Nov. 8, 2002 edition of The New York Times, Bill Pennington wrote an article entitled Where Winning Breeds Criticism, which quotes one professor as saying “A great athletic experience does not mean your football team must be undefeated. We always hear about the life lessons sports teaches, so wouldn’t the odd loss here and there be therapeutic?” I did not read the article until Sunday, the day after we lost to Amherst, and this quote obviously made me feel even worse then I already did. It is sad to think that the tears that rolled down my face the day we lost could bring a smile to others at Williams.
This debate has brought along with it a myriad of unnecessary tensions to our “community” and stresses that make me feel like an outsider at times. This past Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to be the guest speaker at the Mount Greylock High School football banquet. In my speech I incorporated my rationale for coming to Williams College after having spent a year and a half at Villanova University on a football scholarship. One of the things I told the students was that I wanted to be able to be more than a one-dimensional person, and to be seen as more than a jock.
I am very proud to say that my experience here has been an amazing one, in that I have made life-long friends, have had unparalleled professors and have been able to explore all my diverse interests. Yet, I am not proud to say that there is one aspect that Williams has been unable to fulfill for me. And that is losing the label of jock and helmeted athlete.
So, the next time this debate comes to light, think about what you say and how you say it, or as it may be, say nothing at all. While you may not know it, people’s feelings do get hurt and people’s experiences do get tainted when harsh words about athletes are spoken.
As a side note, I would like to send my gratitude to all those who supported the football team this past fall. It is people like you that make me and others on the football team feel as though we are not outcasts, but rather, accepted members of the community.
Scott Farley ’03