Reclaiming the Game

This article is more than 17 years old.

The real fun will come when admissions directors, coaches, presidents, and chancellors at places like Yale, Harvard, Williams, Amherst, and so on respond to "Reclaiming the Game."

This book establishes that many of the most academically prestigious colleges and universities in the country have built into their admissions systems an astonishing bias in favor of excellent athletes. At these schools, coaches advocate for the running back, the sweeper, or the 100 meter flash they need, and accommodating admissions officers salute. The faculty advisor to the college literary magazine who is looking for a bright young poet or editor is unlikely to get the same courtesy. The folks who did the research for "Reclaiming the Game" found that the chosen athletes were four times more likely to gain admission to Ivy League schools than comparably prepared students who did not make a coach's wish list.

Though the colleges and universities discussed in this book all maintain that sports are important only insofar as they compliment the education of a young man or a young woman, the actions of the coaches and the admissions department often belies that contention. "Reclaiming the Game" demonstrates that that the goals of those running the game show have often been pursued at the expense of deserving applicants who've been denied admission, and that the determination to field winning teams has also fragmented the academic community at some of these schools, where lots of athletes associate almost exclusively with other athletes, fail to fulfill or even pursue their academic potential, and sometimes establish a culture that "dumbs down" the courses they're taking to the detriment of the legitimate students who are enrolled.

That this sort of thing has been going on at the major football and basketball factories will surprise nobody. That a similarly counter-productive attitude has turned up at great academic institutions which have long maintained that they were de-emphasizing sports will surprise a lot of people, and dismay them as well.

This program aired on October 25, 2003. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.