Snap judgements, not athletics, are anti-Mac

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

An opinion piece in last week’s issue of The Mac Weekly titled “How we treat our athletes: firing back,” used a previous column (arguing for increased student body support of athletics) as a springboard for unwarranted and unjustified athlete bashing. The author, a first-year, posited that Macalester athletes continually exhibit behavior “inconducive to peaceful coexistence on campus.” Among many things, the piece characterizes Macalester athletes as akin to Beauty and the Beasts Gaston, who “takes cheap shots,” and “persecutes harmless crackpots.” Ironically, the author, too, brings to mind Gaston (conceited and narrow-minded) as her sweeping generalizations form a painful low blow.

While the author acknowledges that it would be na’ve to categorize all athletes, she does just that when she writes “athletic teams have clashed with the rest of the Macalester student body time and time again,” and that some varsity sports make up “exclusive cliques.” The author provides no fact or reference for these statements, and as such, comes off as extremely misinformed and subjective. While initially the author’s point was that not all Macalester students are invested in athletics, she spends little time explaining why. Rather, her article focuses on airing personal grievances with Macalester athletes and athletic programs.

I won’t waste any more time refuting the additional slew of invalid, devoid-of-fact claims the author made. I will however, say that the prejudiced train of thought exhibited in the article is precisely what is upholding and reinforcing the barriers between athletes and the rest of the student body.

Fact: roughly 20% of Macalester students play a varsity sport, and that number nears 50% when club sports are considered. As one who seems to extol the enriching aspects of the Macalester experience, the author’s closed-minded stereotyping is disconcerting. Books, internationalism and round tables drew athletes to Macalester too. The joy and sorrow of Division III athletics is that “the limelight” doesn’t exist. Anyone who has attended a Division III sporting event knows this. Most athletes are here for largely the same reasons as anyone else, and assuming otherwise is tactless and unfair.

While some athletes may not fit everyone’s ideal mold of what a Mac student should be, we are no less “Macalester for it.” In the future, I ask that students refrain from snap-judgment and stereotyping of campus subsets. It is hurtful and counterproductive, and in an institution based on acceptance and open-mindedness, it not only “increases hostilities,” but is also unequivocally anti-Macalester.