In defense of soccer

By Eric Tettegah & Dave Hanold

Macalester still struggles over what it means to be a community. We’d like to address issues relating to the men’s soccer team raised by last week’s “How we treat our athletes: firing back” (2/27/09).First, we apologize for the chant mentioned in the article. The target was a less-than-honorable opponent in the MIAC, not women. Even in context, it was inappropriate and will not happen again.

Second, ALL students choose Macalester for its academics, internationalism, and diversity. Some of us have also chosen Mac for the chance to play sports, as others choose to participate in the arts, activism, etc. Our wish is to gain the support of Macalester’s diverse student body and faculty, the same support enjoyed by performances, cultural discussions, and lectures on campus. Athletes benefit from this diversity, and we’re proud to represent it as best we can.

Third, Macalester student-athletes support and contribute to the community in ways that a “stereotypical” athlete does not. Two years ago the soccer team had the highest GPA of any men’s soccer program in the country. Soccer players volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, participate in Macalester’s music program, study abroad, work as RA’s, and raise money to combat Breast Cancer and HIV/AIDS. Athletes in general attend the same diversity discussions and lectures that Macalester is known for. Two years ago the campus confronted the ‘community issue’ in response to a racist party costume, and athletes participated in the ensuing campus discussion along with non-athletes.

Fourth, we are not overfunded. The $40+ million Leonard Center price tag looks much worse after the economic collapse and exists for the entire campus. It makes space available for non-varsity athletes that was nonexistent in the old facility. The LC has already improved our image via the fall Step Forward weekend, Michelle Obama’s speech, and convocation. Regarding budgets, this is the first year our current head coach has been hired fulltime. Most teams have general budgets less than the cost of one student’s tuition.

A diverse community constitutes engagement with other interests. For athletes, this means attending the many non-athletic events on campus. In addition, we encourage attending athletics events. Engaging with, rather than belittling, other activities is what it takes to build community. We hope the campus sees soccer and athletics as part of this goal, the same as any other student endeavor.