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Editorials and Opinions

Opposing Viewpoints, How far does the Ivy grow? Con: Athletes shouldn’t score Ivies

By Mara Sahleanu
Published: December 2008

Mention the Ivy League to an upperclassman, and more often than not, they’ll start thinking about SAT scores and exclusiveness. These colleges are revered for both their bright students and great athletics; but which should supersede the other?

I speak, of course, of admission rates. Recent statistics have shown that athletes who apply and get into Ivy League schools for sports tend to have lower SAT scores than those who apply for purely academic reasons. Although extracurriculars support students’ chances at admission, some believe that giving athletes some elbowroom is unfair to students not involved in sports.

“Ivy Leagues got their status from the caliber of the students they accept every year, junior Gabe Glissen-Brown said. A former athlete himself, his opinion is based on his own brains versus brawn experience.

On average, students involved in sports have less time for their studies and thus are less likely to score higher on standardized tests. That isn’t to say that sports cut off all hope for high marks. But colleges’ admission of lower-scoring students may seem like justified leniency for busy athletes. However, it poses another problem: Are these “elite centers of academia wasting their time on students who may not have time for their studies?

Junior Eric Phillips believes that the current system is fine for hard workers. “I think [the admittance rate is] fine, especially because [lazy athletes] are going to get bad grades anyways, he said. “So it’s not all that prestigious [to get] in for sports but failing your classes.

The prospect of opportunity being wasted upsets Isa Sisson, however, who believes that slots are meant for people who really want to learn. “Harvard and Yale, for instance, are two schools built upon academic achievement at its highest, she said. “Although their teams are well known for being highly competitive, athleticism should not be their priority when it comes to picking students. It does not make sense for someone who can play well and has decent grades to be picked over someone who doesn’t play sports but has excellent grades.

Viewed in that light, it seems unfair that colleges favor students’ other talents above their desire to be taught by the best educators in the country. But the sad truth is, we live in a capitalist society that thrives off the money made from situations like these.

Hypothetically, if a student’€James, 6 foot 3 and 240 lbs, star linebacker of his high school team and brimming with potential’€were to apply to Yale for a prime position on the football team and was admitted, the Yale team could improve. More winning games would follow, as would more fundraisers and more money from alumni. From the colleges’ point of view, their admissions system can do more good than harm in the long run.

In the end, it’s the students who are affected and deserve to be accommodated. Dartmouth president David McLaughlin believes that “some colleges place so much emphasis on sports that two classes of students are established, breaking the bond between all aspiring learners.

Either way, a reasonable quota should be used to determine which students deserve to attend the college. Until then, I’ll continue to amuse myself by imagining that there exists a Princeton jock who, after crew practice, goes to his dorm and runs lines for theatre.

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