We all know the Ivy League’s pretty useless at sports, unless you count “naked parties” and “playing miniature golf in plaid khakis” as athletic activities. And we also know that Brown’s football field gets more use from students lying around smoking dope and sharing their feelings than it does from people who actually know how to throw a football. But above all we know not to mess with Ivy League athletes, because they have a lot of rage and inexplicable team spirit, and they have to wake up at 5am every day to use the ThighMaster, and they drink revolting whey protein shakes. And if you provoke them, they will KILL YOU AND EAT YOU.
So we hope Brown student Susannah Kroeber has learned her lesson, because we’d hate to have to cover her death at the hands of Brown’s thumb-twiddling athletes. The former athlete and opinion columnist at the Brown Daily Herald wrote a piece last week called “Why the Athletics Department is Bad for Brown,” in which she denounced the athletics department for being a fascist spending machine:
But high level sports teams in the way that they currently operate do not have a place at Brown. The Department of Athletics should be cut, or at the very least be forced to undergo massive reform, if it wants to see continued funding. Sports teams at Brown currently encourage all of the attitudes that the University stands against (or should stand against):
On a team, you lose your individuality. The more you stand out as different, and the less you cohere to the group, the less you are worth and the more you are stigmatized.
On a team, many people acting as a mechanical unit is appreciated far above diversity.
On a team, methods of dictatorship are appreciated far above those of democracy.
On a team, anyone who fails to obey the strictest of rules is punished.
On a team, anyone who doesn’t play for your team is an enemy.
Oh boy. We have never met Susannah Kroeber, and would like to throw in that she’s probably a delightful person to have a serious political discussion with (particularly if you disagree with her and you’re not wearing body armor). But in addition to going painfully overboard with her generalizations, she also neglects to mention that half of Brown couldn’t give two shits about the heinous violations of basic civil liberties on sports teams, because half of Brown doesn’t even know that Brown has sports teams.
And those that do, of course, now want to maim her. Commenters have called her article “a piece of trash” and “emotionally hyperbolic ranting,” and she’s been pegged as a “chauvinist” and a “stupid Brown Univ. hipster.” (The war between athletes and hipsters wages on.) And many of them insisted that Brown was a scion of athletic talent, like this one:
Here’s a little secret: sports, especially at Brown, are a big deal, and are one of the greatest sources of friendship and camaraderie available.
The centrality of athletics at Brown is more than a little secret. It might be the third-best-kept secret in the Ivy League, after the freshman skeletons buried in Harvard Yard and the fact that Princeton eating clubs are actually mass orgies. But anyway.
Alexa Caldwell, another Brown senior, took the lead with a rebuttal in the Herald last Thursday. Among other things, she made the point that there is no better preparation for professional life than viciously beating the other guys with a field hockey stick:
what she so drastically misses is that the athletes’ experience on the playing field is, in fact, the best preparation we can get in our future professional lives. What area of life rejects or does not participate in this kind of competition and intense mentality? Professional work in marketing, political campaigns and legal cases all require the skills developed in competitive sports. Attacking sports teams at Brown for engaging in “abhorrent” behavior that is common and promoted in every day [sic] life is unfair and unjust.
Initially we thought that there could be better preparation for attorneydom than gnashing one’s teeth against a mouth guard and body-slamming one’s opponent. But then we were like–well, no, not really. We’re pretty much content to stand on the sidelines for this one and root for whoever seems to be winning, because we ourselves have minimal upper body strength. And as a rule, we bow down to anyone who can stomach whey protein.