Magazine Preview: Down for the Count

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The Mapril issue of The Blue and White has finally come back from the printer.  Look for its handsome cover in strategic locations around campus over the next two days. In today’s preview, Sam Schube finds out what happens when Columbia athletes throw in the towel.

In the world of Columbia athletics, your word is your bond. Since the Ivy conference forbids athletic scholarships in the name of academic integrity, students are not bound by the typical Division I bargain that guarantees tuition, room, and board in exchange for performance. This opens up a curious loophole: Ivy Leaguers are free to quit at any time, and members quit with surprising regularity. On the wrestling team, which has a particularly high rate of attrition, one team member estimated that up to 15 wrestlers have quit in the last three years.

“Around Christmas, team morale just goes down the shitter,” says former wrestler Mike Pushpak, CC ’11. Athletes are forced to sacrifice Christmas dinners and long January vacations to practice, an expectation that drains team morale during the height of the season. Rather than relax their expectations, the coaches have instituted a new “100 percent or zero percent” policy in response to low energy: if wrestlers aren’t willing to walk the tightrope that is Ivy League wrestling—and succeed at it—they are quickly removed from the team roster.

Part of giving 100 percent means maintaining what the team’s coaches call a “robust” academic schedule. The wrestling team admits recruits using “the Index,” a formula amalgamating a recruit’s various academic measures such as class rank, GPA, and, most importantly, SAT scores, to meet University requirements. “We have a kid who just broke 1,000,” says one wrestler who wished to remain anonymous, necessitating the odd 2300-scoring recruit who can “carry” the team’s SAT average. While the low-scorers can certainly give the required 100 percent on the mat, they tend to be left behind in the classroom, making the athletics-academics balance that much harder to maintain.

Certain players make it their duty to keep members from falling off the tightrope. A major part of this effort is the systematic identification of flagging members. “On a team where quitting is a problem, these kids continue the problem,” says another wrestler.

Once struggling wrestlers do fall off the tightrope, they essentially become untouchables. Some are seen as a threat to the remaining team–with more free time to spend sleeping and drinking, they can easily tempt away active players, especially roommates and suitemates. “When you live with someone who quit you are also affected,” says the same anonymous wrestler. “They are seen as potentially poisonous. I like to call them ‘Team Cancer.'” This wrestler once lived with one of these “poisonous” outsiders who, without the regimen of practice and training, soon become “a shining beacon of alcoholism.” Former wrestlers are soon alienated from a number of team traditions, “Wife-Beater Fridays” chief among them. “We beat down the doors where we lift and wear wife-beaters,” another wrestler explained when asked about the team’s ritual. “On Fridays only, though.”

In other sports, the snubbing is less overt but just as potent. “It’s not like you’re ostracized, but it’s almost like you’re de facto ostracized,” said Greg Kremler, CC ’10, a former member of the track and cross-country teams, “because you’re not living that lifestyle anymore.” Runners often juggle three early morning lift sessions a week, a full course-load, and four hours of practice five or six days a week. It’s no wonder that so much of their world centers on the team.

Burning out isn’t always self-generated, though, since injuries also can force an athlete off the team. Mike Pushpak tore the meniscus in his right knee during his sophomore year. That same year, his kneecap on the same knee continued to pop in and out. He suffered, in addition to his bum knee, a concussion—his second in two years—and was out for a month with debilitating headaches, which often set in as he walked up flights of stairs. Thanks to many hours spent on the mat, he developed a facial skin infection and back spasms, not to mention a mild case of cauliflower ear. But that’s just cosmetic.

With so many injuries sustained, “there was no guarantee I’d make it through a full year,” he says. Even more seriously, “30 years from now I might not be able to walk properly or throw a ball properly,” he reflects. These worries, among others, compelled Pushpak to quit—or, as he puts it, to “resign. Quitting’s such a harsh word, you know?”

Injured players face two unappealing options: sit injured on the bench and off of the coach’s radar, or get back in the game before they’re ready. After former track runner Michael Kelley-Bradford, CC ’11, was injured at the end of his sophomore year, his coach quickly lost interest in his plight. As he puts it, “I definitely wasn’t living up to expectations—theirs or mine.” Neglected, Kelley-Bradford quickly cut ties with the team.

Walk-ons complicate the equation further. Since Columbia Athletics encourages academically strong athletes to apply without admissions help, the program lends itself to walk-ons who can easily replace recruits on the mend. When injured, Pushpak often worried that these walk-ons would take his spot. “In high school, the coach can’t afford to replace people,” he says. At Columbia, “there’s usually a backup around who can do the job.” These fears create an unhealthy incentive to push injured athletes their physical limits, often worsening the injury in the process.

In the end, what may sustain many athletes more than the quest for victory is their sense of identity. Rather than be “just another student,” these students thrive on their Sisyphean struggle to both study and score, almost simultaneously. “We might not be the smartest,” Pushpak observes, but “we pride ourselves on being able to juggle what everyone else is doing along with athletics.”

Illustrations by Liz Lee

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  1. Anonymous  

    the fact that athletes can come and act the way they do at this school is simply awful. the rest of the applicants to any pool work our entire lives to better ourselves academically, and the meatheads who can perform athletically for a few years get the same spots in our classes and at our university. it's a disgrace.

    • will  

      yeah, ivy league athletic "tradition" doesn't make a lot of sense.

    • Shame  

      Shame on you. How dare you. Just because someone is an athlete does NOT mean they are a slacker, and because someone is a slacker does NOT mean they are/were an athlete. And if someone worked their ass off in high school trying to be the best they could be at a sport because they sucked at math or science, but still wanted to do the best they could at one of the best universities in the country, who are you to tell them that they shouldn't have the right? I despise people who think all athletes are slackers. I worked hard all through high school both academically and athletically to get here, and I work even harder now that I'm here to make up for my team mates who are not academically strong but LOVE their university. I could have gone to many other colleges on a full scholarship and been the star of the team for (academically and athletically.) I chose instead to go to Columbia. You're a damn Nazi.

      • Anonymous  

        Wow, didn't take long for that conversation to reduce to Nazi comparisons....

        The article points to the fact that the admission requirements for athletes are in fact lower. Also, based upon anecdotal evidence, I can say that more athletes than regular kids are slackers and breed an anti-academic feeling in the classroom.

        If someone is up to snuff transcript-wise, and really loves learning, then I don't think anyone would tell them that they can't play a sport. It's just that lots of people have experience to show that is frequently not the case.

        • well  

          It also points on that Columbia has a lot of walk-ons, meaning they were admitted by the same standards as anyone else. It also points out that there's one person who gets recruited who looks better on paper than anyone else, which means one can't say that all athletes are accepted based on lower standards. Some of them are accepted based on higher standards than most, for their athletic and academic talents, some are accepted by the same standards as anyone else, and some are recruited because of their athletic talent and are expected to make an effort at academia as well. It should be noted that a lot of the latter group do work very hard - part of the reason they end up dropping out of athletics in the first place. Now, this is not to say there aren't cases that don't fit these categories, but you also cannot say that no athlete meets Columbia's academic standards.

    • I mean...  

      what about all the kids who paid for Harvard Westlake or Exeter or Andover or Dalton or Lawrenceville or Groton or Trinity or Collegiate or Brearley or CP or all those places?? isn't that an unfair advantage? I am a former athlete who went to public school and I was the only ivy-bound person in my class, despite the fact many of my classmates would kick 50% of prep school grads asses in any academic realm. We all do what we can to get here because it's all about the Columbia name to put on your resumé anyways- doesn't matter whether you graduate with a 3.8 or a barely passing grade in poly sci. Who the fuck wants a homogeneous campus anyways? How lame would it be if we were all chain smoking-plaid-wearing-apathetic hipsters? To everyone who's complaining: who ever promised you that life was fair anyways? suck it up, money and looks rule our society and your post on a college blog isn't going to change that. Also: athletes, stop perpetuating your own reputation by calling our your former/present teammates and making spelling errors. The only thing you achieve by that is making That Pretentious Asshole think you're even more prone to roid rage and mental retardation.

  2. Anonymous

    Forget the fact that much of your financial aid was probably donated by former athletes or their close friends.

    • Anon  

      Dear rich kid complaining about athletes getting in,

      There's probably tons of smart people that didn't get into Columbia because they came from lower class homes and didn't get to go to prep school. So shut up.

      Dear poor kid complaining about athletes getting in,
      A former athlete probably is the reason you have a good financial aid package so you could afford to come here. So shut up.

      Acting like athletics is the only inequality when it comes to getting into this school is simply ignorant. At least athletics involves dedicating time and sweat to being excellent at something. Trust fund babies can't say the same.

  3. don't hate the playa,  

    hate the game

    • it's the game itself  

      that's being hated. it's crazy that recruitment works the way it does, and that they get for less what everyone else worked harder for.

      • non-athlete

        "and that they get for less what everyone else worked harder for."

        Not really. Athletics is a lot of fucking work. Yes some people are naturally talented at it but some people are naturally good with numbers and words. I didn't work hard in high school and neither did a lot of people who got in on academics. That's sometimes how it goes. If you want to do well at a higher level you do have to work hard in both athletics and academics.

        I don't know, you can hate on sports all you want, but it is a) something that requires a lot of maturity and dedication and b) something where your actions speak for themselves.

        It's fine to criticize athletes for lots of things but hard work isn't one. A better question is whether at the lower end, academically, they're a good fit for the school. They may have worked really fucking hard but it's not going to benefit anyone if they aren't a good fit for the school.

        But yeah I agree with that previous poster D-1 athletics at Ivy League is bullshit. I wish they put more support into club teams and diversity of sports instead of big-ticket teams that can't compete with their opponents and aren't really a point of pride any more.

        • Wrestler  

          How about you take other things into consideration. What about when it comes to non-professional sports, where you cannot go anywhere past college. In case you did not know the IVY LEAGUE School CORNELL, took second in the country at wrestling this year. The highest finish of Ivy ever. As for Columbia, they were in the Top 25 just a few years ago. Maybe are big ticket sports are not at a comparable level, but others are. And mind you Ivy League football is 1-AA so there not even division 1.

  4. Anonymous  

    i really love college athletics. I mean I'm obsessive when it comes to college basketball. But I just don't get why athletics are in the ivy league at all (division 1 at least).

    The way I figure is that athletes go to school for the same reason every else does: to get better at what they want to do in life. A bio-major comes to the ivy league to study and get an amazing education which helps him/her go on into that field. The good athletes goto huge state schools which have more resources and better connections to help them land a job in professional leagues.

    So why would an athlete come to the Ivy League? Certainly not to get noticed by the NFL or NBA. Certainly not to get coached by the best. Going here would be like going to Arizona state for biology or political science. But even more than that, it would be like a bio-major going to Arizona state and then being required to do a sport on the side. Some which that person doesn't really desire to do.

    We're left with a situation where the athletes can't be that good or that dedicated (or else they would be at a better sports school), and the incoming athletes mitigate the academic standing of the school at large. It's not a beneficial situation for anyone. The only obvious benefit is the old-timey tradition the sports have attached to them. But that's from before the 50s when the Ivies were actually good when compared to other schools.

    All I'm saying, is that if we had an academic department that compared so poorly to all other schools here at Columbia, then we would get rid of it immediately.

    • ...  

      I am an athlete because it keeps me healthy, on-task, focused, efficient and most importantly, sane.

      Although I could have gone to a huge school where sports are dominant (on scholarship too), I chose not to, even though it would have saved my family upwards of $50,000/year. I do not want to become a professional athlete, I want the best education possible. But I love my sport and work hard, so here I am, a STUDENT-athlete. Notice how the student part comes first?

      Not all athletes want to go professional. Just so you know.

  5. Anonymous  

    I'm mostly talking about football, basketball, etc.

    Even though we might be a great school for fencing or tennis, there are other (better) schools which do not require an academic obligation of our magnitude.

  6. Stephen West  

    If you want to cry about wrestling after you have quit then keep it to yourself. Wrestling is a demanding sport and the coaches are there to help you reach your goals. If you have a problem with that then take it up on your own time. Don't bash on a team that works their ass off just because you were soft and quit. This article is completely false and pathetic. Welcome to college wrestling. If you don't like it...get out! (which apparently the soft one who wrote this already did) period!

  7. Anonymous  

    This article is absolutely absurd you people writing this exaggerated every single thing you wrote about. Your facts are no where near true in regards to the test scores either. By the way Columbia's wrestling team was ranked 8th in the nation for team GPA this year. This is a ridiculous insult to the columbia wrestling team, the fact is it's a tough sport and we go to a tough school and some kids just can't handle doing that much work.

  8. Wrestler  

    This article was pure garbage. At no point was anything factual published. When you make the commitment to play a collegiate sport, you know that you will have to juggle workouts and schoolwork. If you can't handle the workload, then you should quit. The wrestling team is heading in the right direction. Going to an online blog to essentially bitch about the program and make excuses about quitting is pathetic. Get over yourself man.

    Also, stop whining about athletes being at Columbia. Without them there would be no good looking people.

  9. don't worry, academics,  

    when the athletes are overweight, washed-up, in deadend careers, and forcing their children through their own idiotic routines, the rest of us will have successful careers and be enjoying our older life.

    • non-athlete  

      insecure, much?

    • The man  

      As stated below... all firms prefer to hire athletes for many reason, especially successful one. A) There team players, the second biggest concern for employers behind communication skill B) They exemplify hard-work and dedication, which you can't teach C) They also demonstrate the ability to handle hard and stressful environments--> which is pretty much the atmosphere at any firm or position that is actually important and well-paying... O and yea, ex-athlete means overweight... no they actually know a thing or two about nutrition and exercise buddy. Man UP

    • alumnus

      You do realize that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is a former football captain and former football head coach, right?

  10. Anonymous  

    Yeah good call man since were not getting the same degrees, o wait yeah we are. Also, a lot of Firms and businesses like to hire athletes since they obviously have a good work ethic if they could juggle sports and an ivy league education.

  11. Tyler Sheridan  

    First of all I would like to say that it is very unfair of people to say that Ivy League athletics are pointless. Whether or not our sports teams win as much as say Ohio State does, does not mean that our sports are pointless; the bottom line is that every ivy league athlete straps up their shoes and gear like everyone else and goes out to compete.

    As far as the wrestling team specifically is concerned, I believe that it is disgusting for people to knock a sport that most people did not know existed. There is no professional league or big time scouts for higher competition, therefore every wrestler competing at the Division 1 level are the best of the best and are competing for themselves and their school's pride.

    Columbia University has one of the country's top coaching staffs that work tirelessly on and off the wrestling mat to contribute to the program's success. For those of you who only read this article focused on "resignees," the Columbia wrestling team placed 8th in the country for overall team GPA with a 3.198 average. The freshman class of 2013 (which includes me) was ranked 21st in the nation overall for wrestling and still managed to boast a 3.3 GPA overall.

    Granted, athletes in general do get help to get in the school. Saying this does not mean that you can pigeon hole all athletes into "too dumb for this school" or "slackers." We bust are asses harder than the average student because we are expected to compete with both the greatest athletes and minds in the country here at Columbia.

    As far as quitting goes... it happens. Anyone can feel free to drop by to see a wrestling practice, I am confident to bet that nobody outside of a wrestler can understand the grueling workouts we go through otherwise. Taking into account wrestling doesn't have "time outs" or "pads" or "half times," it is easy to say that wrestlers are injured far more often than the average sport. Christmas Break was the most difficult grind of my life, being away from my family and pushing myself through seemingly endless workouts. But I did it. It broke me down mentally, physically and emotionally, but in the end, it only made me a stronger wrestler, and most importantly, a stronger person. And I know that there is not a "non athlete" that will understand what I we as a team went through. And I'm glad because of it.

    Some luck out and stay healthy. Others get banged up. The one's that decide to end their careers early do so on their own accord. The individuals who fight through the adversity in the classroom and on the mat become better people as a result.

    Wrestling. Don't knock it, 'til you can try it and survive it.

    • 3.198 is 8th in nation?

      Wow, athlete GPAs are low. I was never critical of athletes before, but wow, Barnard women earn way higher GPAs and they get dissed on Bwog all the time.

      I don't know whether it's that training that doesn't leave athletes enough time to study or whether it's recruiting, but it's not okay for that to be the 8th best average in the country.

      • Really?...  

        I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that Barnard was the same education as Columbia.. Oh wait, its not.
        It really doesn't matter what kind of feminist ranting goes on at Barnard, it's not the same as Columbia.

        And 8th place in the country overall sounds like a great accomplishment and the wrestling team at Columbia should accept their academic honors with pride. Sorry athletic teams at Columbia aren't always up to par with the "highly esteemed" expectations of Barnard or just you for that matter.

  12. just wondering...  

    ... is the quitter guy in the story also the "shining beacon of alcoholism"? If so, was he drunk when he gave this sad sob story?

  13. Anonymous  

    I can see why "anonymous" prefers to remain anonymous. To use the term "meathead" to describe an athlete at ANY Ivy League Institution is not illogical, it's just plain dumb. Should athletes complain because non-athletic people come to Dodge Fitness Center and cramp up the weight room and the track with their bumbling, clueless attempts at staying in shape? No. So why is it alright to bash people who take advantage of their ability to perform in athletics by attending one of the top institutions in the world? It seems as though the people commenting on this article, as well as those who wrote it, have some sort of personal grievance with one, or even a few athletes on this campus. If Ivy League schools do not have the capacity to maintain top-tier college sports, then why does Cornell have a wrestling team returning next season that finished second at the national tournament last season? Why did their basketball team perform well in the NCAA basketball tournament, making the Sweet 16? I find it amusing that you decide to eliminate certain sports (tennis, fencing) from your argument, but still group them in your definition of "meathead". It is disgusting when considering the resentment that non-athletes at this school harbor toward athletes who undoubtedly work harder than they do to stay here. You ask why standards are somewhat lower for the admittance of athletes. Maybe it is because the people involved with this institution who know what they are talking about (i.e. admissions board members, not you) know the value of hard work and what it can contribute to a university, and that value to a university is quantifiable in terms other than SAT scores, and how long someone can spend inside of the library stacks before their ass grows roots. By saying that athletes should not attend college for academic purposes, you are discrediting any other viable argument that you make. Many athletes go to college because in the world we live in today, it is a requirement to get a good job. Should being an athlete remove you from competition for a highly sought-after job? If you knew that much about professional sports then you would know that 99% of college athletes don't make it there. Some athletes, believe it or not, are smart enough to have the foresight to plan for an eventual end in their athletic careers. It is illogical to say that using a certain skill set that has been given to a person should not be used to get as far in life as possible. Had you gone to any other school you would feel like you were underachieving, the same as student-athletes would if they went to a state school knowing they could have competed for and studied at an institution such as Columbia University. My advice to you is quit complaining about something that does not involve you or your personal interests, and be thankful that you are where you are today. Many people "smarter" than myself would trade with you in a second.

  14. Wrestler  

    I would just like to state some FACTS: first, that "another wrestler" is Mike Pushpak...who I mind you was MY roommate and IM still on the team. Second, Mike Pushpak did NOT have a "bum knee," he had a torn cartilage that DID NOT EVEN REQUIRE SURGERY. I find it humorous that he states "30 years from now I might not be able to walk properly," since the only quasi-serious injury he sustained was a concussion, which doesn't effect your ability to walk. Third, Mike Pushpak was never "worried about someone taking his spot," because he never started EVER. Lastly, Mike Pushpak is a scum for even agreeing to interview for this article, in effect advocating the blatant bashing of athletes, in particular the wrestling team--.."Team Cancer"...really? Its amazing that kids still has the balls to try to associate and interact with anyone on the wrestling team--> this article clearly illustrates the high esteem he holds us in.

  15. Anonymous  

    There is a reason, though, that athletes come to a school like columbia. While they're here, yes they work very intensely on sports and have to keep up grades (to an extent) as well, they receive LOTS of help. Not just in class (and come on, those athlete study guides get passed around and end up helping non-athletes too), but with the constant opportunities of internships they get (first pick at Goldman? That's why athletes make on average much more money even with lower grades). Companies hire A LOT of athletes, and sure, this may be for the reason that they think athletes can juggle school and sport, but if they are half-assing school, or getting lots of help, it doesn't seem to me the best criteria.

    It's fine to reward people for hard work, but like this post said: this is not an athletic institution. If people cannot perform ACADEMICALLY to the same extent to their peers, why does it matter how hard or great they work and perform ATHLETICALLY? This is not a sports school, nor should it be. No one is denying that athletes work hard, just that this the place for them.

  16. Anonymous  

    Knibb High Football Rules!!!!!

  17. Please Prep School Babies  

    I'd love to see some of the elitist jerks that post on here get through all their work at this school while still dedicating 20-25 hours a week to a sport. How would that cute little transcript look then? Columbia is about more than pumping out kids with 4.0, it's about preparing people for the rest of their lives. To be a successful athlete you have to work hard and long, be at your best in pressure situations, and (in most cases) perform in a team environment. AKA values that you can use for the rest of your life.

    People who use the system to get in then quit suck, and give athletes a bad name. So are those who are only part of the team because they need an extracurricular for their resume. But to focus on them and ignore the many people that dedicate themselves is foolish and ignorant.

  18. Anonymous  

    also, everyone should remember that athletes KILL people (see UVA Lacrosse case all over the news right now)

  19. Not Mile  

    Mike Pushpak, YOU KICK ASS. Love you and happy face, buddy.

  20. Anonymous  

    Suck it trebek!!

  21. Frenchie

    so as long as we are talking about all the people we should kick out (or let in) Ivy league schools, I think all foreign students should be out (after all most of them can't speak English), artists: out (because let's face it, all they do is paint and draw, and anyone can do that), and athletes (for the obvious reason that they are all stupid). Basically, let's kill diversity and have only little smart asses because they should rule the world!!
    Come on people, wake up!! who cares if some people are dumber than others? (and btw i'm pretty sure there are some pretty stupid kids around who are not athletes...) the point of going to an Ivy is not to be surrounded by the smartest kids around, it's to have the best professors who can teach you to move your ass and be the best you can be!

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree with your sentiment, but to be fair, at least part of the reason to come to an Ivy is to be surrounded by the smartest kids around. I know the high-minded sparring I've encountered at Columbia has been far removed from my experiences in high school, and being able to talk to my friends about complex issues, whether race or politics or economics, has been one of the best parts of my experience here. To suggest that all your enlightenment is on the shoulders of professors is a little exaggerated, especially since we spend less than 10% of our time here with them. Being surrounded by \the smartest kids around\ means that discussions don't have to end in the classroom, and I think having a diverse pool of smart kids is the number one contributor to our environment of open debate, community activism and intellectualism.

  22. Agreed

    While this isn't always the case, I have found that a high number of athletes in a class can definitely lower the academic feeling. In my Lit Hum class, about 5-6 athletes would sit in the back of the classroom, rarely contribute, and just generally suck the energy out of the room. When the lecturer would get fed up and call on one of the more reluctant students, our class would grind to a halt so that the called-out person could express some hackneyed or off-topic sentiment about a book they obviously hadn't read. In CC the year after, my section fell in a time slot that was convenient for several of the teams, and it was pretty much the exact same phenomenon, only add 3-5 more athletes.

    However, not every athlete was a bad student, and not every bad student was an athlete. In fact, one of the most intelligent and well-spoken students in my CC class was one of the former athletes named in this article. There are some incredibly hardworking athletes here, and there are definitely slacker non-athletes. It is unfortunate both for athletes and for the community at large that the students that most make their athletic participation known often tend to project a bad image of the program. Also, the frequent \man up\ or \if you can't take it, you can't talk\ banter in these comments thrown out by (what I'm assuming are) athletes tends to suggest a pretty narrow, hackneyed understanding of the problems regarding the athletic community at Columbia. I'm not in PR, but if I wanted to move away from the under-evolved, undereducated stereotype of athletes, I wouldn't throw out such predictably glib and shortsighted platitudes.

  23. Meh.

    It still baffles me that sports even exist at academic institutions - especially here. This is Columbia. You can keep your sense of community, thank you very much.

  24. Rower  

    All I'm going to say is that the rowing team's GPA (always between 3.5-3.6ish) has been considerably above the Columbia average for as long as any coach can leave us alone!

    PS. The wrestlers are some of the most impressive men on campus. Be proud of your boys.

  25. Anonymous  

    Nerds are scary.

  26. Facts

    Actual facts and close analysis refute what most athletes are arguing here. Here are some highlights from a recent study by a former president of princeton and Andrew Mellon Foundation:

    1) "recruited athletes were admitted with significantly lower grades and College Board scores and then performed more poorly than would be expected for students with those grades and test scores"

    2) "the study looked at the four-year records of nearly 28,000 freshmen who entered 33 selective colleges and universities in 1995. Besides the Ivy League, the study included colleges like Williams, Amherst, Tufts, Wesleyan, Bryn Mawr, Smith and Wellesley."

    3) "Some college presidents, the authors said, are convinced that such problems exist on other campuses but not on their own. But the data showed that the only exceptions were a small group of colleges in the University Athletic Association, a relatively new conference that includes the University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Emory and Washington University in St. Louis."

    4) "recruited athletes enjoyed a large advantage for admission. For male recruits, the odds of admission to the Ivy League colleges were more than four times greater than for comparable male applicants not on a coach's list; the advantage for female recruits was even higher."

    5) "The authors said that in an era of heightened competition for admission to top colleges, recruited athletes took up a large number of seats and did not make the best use of what those institutions have to offer, often focusing on sports to the exclusion of other extracurricular activities like student government or community service."

  27. Athlete '11  

    So, how many of you who claim to belong here are social train wrecks? How many of you have never been able to hold a fruitful relationship? How many of you don't have a competitive bone in your body? How many of you will be working be sitting in a cubical working for the C student CEO for the rest of your lives?

    Almost all.

  28. SEAS Athlete  

    Some people do student government, some play music, others are artists, national championship debaters, writers, dancers, performers or drama kids and some are athletes. We all got into Columbia because we are talented in some way, shape or form. At least ideally. Yes, you can cry \unfair advantage!\ but why not look at those students (we all know who they are) who got in due to legacy/donations? You want to talk about unfair advantage?

    Yes, there are athletes who \suck the energy\ out of a classroom. But really, there are \regular\ students who do the same. Generalizations are pointless.

    Speaking from a recruit's experience, the coaches were very honest about what academics were required to get into Columbia. Those who didn't make the cut were told so and applied regular decision with no backing. This is besides the cut that exists for how good you have to be at your sport to even be considered.

    There are athletes that can't handle an ivy league curriculum and there are non-athletes that can't handle an ivy league curriculum. Not everyone can be as brilliant as you are, athlete haters. Sorry.

  29. Jim Prentice

    Non-athletes can't possibly wrap their heads around the enormous time commitment that athletes at Ivy League schools have to manage. Wrestling in college is a full time job for six months of the school year. I only got to go home for Thanksgiving once. We lucky to be home for more than four days for Christmas. When everybody else goes home for a month during winter break, we're practicing twice a day.Those practices are the hardest workouts I've ever been put through in my life. During the season, we worked out at least twice a day. If you had to make weight for a tournament, you have to work out 3 times a day. I held down a job during all four years of college, so that was another 10 hours of my week that was committed to something other than school work. I got through all of my classes without any of those mythical athletic study guides somebody brought up in an earlier thread.

    We don't want any special treatment or recognition for doing what we're asked to do. Just don't assume that we're dumb or we don't care. It's tough to make it through a 6:00 CC class after you've just been physically beaten down after two and a half hour practice in January. I love Columbia, but there are so many condescending pricks who get off on questioning whether people "belong". Worry about yourselves. Who cares how your classmates got in to school? Everybody that got in to Columbia got in for a reason. You can bitch about athletes all you want, but they're not going anywhere.

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