April 20, 2004

Discovering the Maroon athlete

There are a lot of misconceptions about athletics at our school. Some think that all of our teams are terrible, which is mostly because they choose not to follow our sports like the women's soccer team that was one game away from winning a national championship. Others think that Chicago athletes are just dumb jocks, despite the fact that they regularly bring in All-Academic awards and have a higher average GPA than the rest of the student body.

An example can be found in our April 16 issue. The column "Homophobia at U of C Elimidate" mentioned how one of the columnist's friends typecast some people in the crowd as "obviously all athletes and frat guys of some sort." She mentions how she was upset at the comment because her experience here has proven that most stereotypes are wrong.

I find it really unfortunate that people still make these generalizations. It's even more unfortunate that the Elimidate event changed the columnist's view of Chicago students, particularly of athletes.

I don't condone the mindless anti-gay remarks that were made at the screening. That point aside, there were a number of athletes, who may or may not have "obviously" seemed like such, who were there to support the main point of the event: AIDS Awareness. A few of my friends on the baseball team are upset because they feel that the column falls into the trap of assuming that athletes, or fraternity brothers, don't have that goal in mind.

Over the next few weeks, Maroon sports is going to dig past a lot of these mistaken beliefs and try to show some of the characteristics of the University of Chicago student-athlete. Starting this Friday, we're going to run a weekly feature covering a different aspect of our school's athletics, specifically focusing on our peers.

We'll start with the matter of recruiting people to come here, something that has become more of a focus recently. You may be surprised to find out why some potential Division I athletes choose to come here instead of chasing athletic scholarships and prestige.

In the following weeks, we will cover the community service efforts of teams, academics and athletics at our school, and the point of view of a student-athlete.

At the very least, I hope that students and professors gain a fuller understanding of athletes here. Hopefully, you will also become more interested in the athletics program, both in the product on the field as well as the people who put it together.

I know athletes appreciate any efforts to get to know them better as well. I got a number of positive responses to my March 5 column about supporting our sports teams, and they always love new fans. I hope you enjoy our upcoming features and that our community continues to grow because of our efforts and yours.