Macalester's Achilles' heel: How we treat our athletes

By Kevin Williams

And so ends a perfect season. For the first time in MIAC history, a team has finished the season without a win.This past Wednesday, the Macalester men’s basketball ended their 2008-2009 campaign with an abysmal record of 0-25. It would be an understatement to say that this was a difficult season for the Scots, coming up on the wrong end of many close calls and blowouts. And while there is much that could be said about the team, whether this has to do with their effort, talent, tenacity, etc., much of the blame should be placed on the Macalester student body.

While it is a well-known fact that we are not recognized for our athletic prowess, the amount of respect and support that we show for our athletes as a student body is deplorable. And how can we expect our teams to play at a high level when we don’t even show them support?

Macalester College sports reminds one of the movie Happy Feet. A large group of penguins believed that in order to find a mate and fit in, each penguin had to find their heart song – a song that they sang that was all their own, making them unique from all others. However, there was one penguin that did not fit into the mold of the other penguins. He did not have a heart song. Rather, he had a dance. An amazing dance. But because it was different from what everyone else wanted, expected, and was used to, he was chastised. He was forced to conform to creating a heart song, even though he had no singing ability and was naturally talented in the dance. And so his dancing suffered until his peers and his family began to support him in his dance and learned that it is okay to be different and excel in a way that most others do not.

In sports isn’t there something called home court advantage? For those of you who aren’t knowledgeable in sports terminology, this refers to the idea that a team has an advantage because they are playing on their home court. Familiarity with the court and increased amount of supporters is supposed to be extremely beneficial to the team’s success. Home court advantage refers to the increased energy and drive with which the team plays with – an energy and drive that comes from the support and cheering of the fans.

We have not held up our end of the bargain.

For the Macalester Scots, there has been no home court advantage. It is not an irregular occurrence to see the visiting team’s supporters outnumbering us at the Leonard Center. They cheer louder, harder, prouder. And if you think that this doesn’t affect the psyche and the drive of the athlete, you are sadly mistaken.

It is understood that many of us are not enthusiastic about particular sports, or sports at all. But let us think outside the box of athletics vs. academics for one moment. Student-athletes are representing the school to the rest of the conference. They are an extension of the school, of our identity. The athletes give of their time, their energy, and risk their health so that they can proudly wear the Macalester blue and orange and show the rest of the MIAC that Macalester is multidimensional and is not limited to books, internationalism, round tables, and diversity talks.

Kevin Williams ’09 can be reached at

[email protected]