I guess that it is good news that Williams won the mens NCAA Divsion III basketball championship last month. I am certainly happy to extend congratulations to all concerned. But, am I the only one who finds the Williams athletic web page a little, uh, excessive. Don’t get me wrong (please). I am pro-sports, pro-Williams and pro-athletes at Williams. I think one of the things that makes Williams special is that it is the sort of place at which you can do both sports and academics seriously. Indeed, I thought that it was a bad decision for Preident Payne not to let the womens lacrosse team particpate in the NCAA play-offs a few years ago because of a conflict with exams.
Yet, seeing how Williams has dominated the Sears Directors’ Cup (awarded for overall athletic excellence) both historically and this year makes me worried. As long as the amazing varsity athletes that we have are similar to the rest of the student body (in terms of academic qualifications prior to Williams and academic success at Williams), then I have no problems. Indeed, I would think that it is wonderful that Williams is able to attract such well-rounded individuals. But, is this really true? Is it likely that so many of the best athletes in the country are also among the best students? I wonder . . .
Of course, the last thing that I want to be is biased against athletes. Indeed, the fellows that I played with on the squash team were as academically gifted as a random selection of other students. And, to the extent others besides me are worried about this, the college has the numbers to set our minds at ease. What, for example, were the average high school grades or SAT scores or class rank of Williams varsity athletes versus non-athletes? What are the Williams GPA differences, if any?
I like to hope that my concerns are groundless, but Williams would not be the first school to become overly enamored of success on the playing field . . .