Athletes Are an Important Subset

I read with interest Peter Meredith’s “A Student’s Perspective.” I, too, experienced “The Saying” some 30 years ago in the early days of my time on campus. The Saying I was familiar with was somewhat different, although clearly on the same theme of diversity. What I heard was that athletes (jocks) were some sort of bizarre, not fully human creatures who inhabited part of the campus but not really welcomed into the mainstream. I never much paid attention to nor became discouraged from this commentary. I believed I was fortunate to have attended Oberlin and was able to find joy, warmth, and friendship in my competitive, athletic friends. I also learned a great deal from my campus jobs, mostly food-service positions, and had friends who majored in a variety of disciplines. My years at Oberlin were a terrific time of growth and expression. Over the years, I’ve connected with many other Obies from graduation years going back to the 1920s. Interestingly, many of these folks, at least the males, had some athletic experience and accomplishments in their student days. Many had become trustees and leaders at Oberlin well after graduation. I believe that when we say that a certain subset of the student population does not fit and, therefore, does not merit support, we undermine what the essence of Oberlin College is—a place where people are free to express themselves and experience a wide range of opportunities to grow and mature. Yes, athletes are people of focus, energy, diversity, strength, intelligence...even wisdom. Of course, as in any subset of the campus population, a few might not be model citizens. Athletes are people who bring an important point of view and intensity to the wonderful learning environment at Oberlin.
Martin Dugan ’73

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