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Bill The Team?

Is punishing the entire team a good idea?

At Amherst, they used to bill everybody on the football team for cleanup/damage attributed in any way to football players. It used to show up on the term bill. I remember the phone call from my Mom when the bill for a party that I was not at was around 50 bucks.

I don’t think that this happens at Williams. Should it?

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#1 Comment By frank uible On April 2, 2006 @ 7:46 am

Guilt by association!

#2 Comment By Ronit On April 2, 2006 @ 11:08 am

Wonder how this would apply to the Duke lacrosse-team rape story.

#3 Comment By Eislerman On April 2, 2006 @ 11:37 am

Question: Why don’t we just stop the tip system everywhere, at every academic level?

What would be lost?

#4 Comment By Bill ’04 On April 2, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

This is just nonsensical. Why don’t we distribute damages by major, or since men cause most of the damages maybe they shoud be distributed by gender. Maybe when a minority causes damage, the costs can be split amongst the URM’s.
If security wasn’t lazy they could always find the real culprits instead of trying to place blame on a group.

#5 Comment By frank uible On April 2, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

The obvious direct effect of eliminating tips would be that the College would not be able to “field” a men’s hockey team, and the football, men’s basketball, wrestling, men’s lacrosse and baseball teams, perhaps among others, would become embarassingly weak, all with an accompanying loss of College identity and a drift toward becoming primarily a women’s college. The indirect and more important effect would be that the leadership qualities (such as physical courage, confidence and aggressiveness) of the student body would greatly suffer. Besides, the alumni, providers of the mother’s milk to the College, would dislike it a lot.

#6 Comment By Eislerman On April 2, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

No no, I mean every school, every academic institution- not just Williams.

It’s not designed to be a practical question. Nor am I anti-sports. I just think that the benefits of sports are essentially independent of the level of performance. It doesn’t matter if you can run a sub-4 mile or have a good free-throw percentage if you learn the lessons of discipline, teamwork blah blah blah (obviously, there’s a benefit in terms of healthy lifestyle, but again independence of level of performance). So if, as a culture, we valued sports as something good-for-itself rather than end-based, I think it would be a dramatic cultural improvement.

You could argue at the elite levels, excellence is its own reward, but that’s what minor leagues and the Nike Farm Team are for.

#7 Comment By rory On April 2, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

come on bill, you know that’s way too oversimplified.

Sports teams not only have much more of a peer cultural effect over each other: if the other people on the team want you to stop vandalizing things, you’re more likely to listen than if I tell you to stop because we’re both men.

beyond that, the argument is that a disproportionate amount of the damage being done is being done by athletes at social events connected to their team (or, after said event when walking home drunk). if so, then the team can be seen as a source of the damage and can be accused of some responsibility.

All that said, I don’t like charging people for damages if they were not there. I agree that security could identify the culprits better: they accused my roommates of breaking tables my senior year at a registered party for football alumni. none of us play football, do you really think we did that? i mean, they watched in shock as one alum jumped onto the tables a la WWF wrestling.

really, the school needs to decide it wants to crack down. however it cracks down, if it is serious about it, it could stop the problem. ii doubt it will.

(and, btw, we already have distributed costs. i got charged for common areas in my dorm I never hung out in. House dues often go towards damages. so geographical proximity by living location was “guilt by association”, while social and athletic proximity is not. I wonder which is more fair. Is wrong place, wrong time a better fining scheme than wrong group, wrong time?)

#8 Comment By Richard Dunn On April 2, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

I do not see how you cannot share the cost across the team. When one player scores 45 points, after the game she will say: “We couldn’t have won without each other.” When a player chokes at the free-throw line to tie the game with 12 secs left, other players rally and say, “you can’t blame that one play by one player for the loss.” When a player is recognized as an outstanding student or humanitarian, he is a credit to his team. Alternatively, when a player breaks the law or acts unethically, it is reflected on her teammates as well. This is the basis for team sports and you cannot claim that everyone should share the reward without also recognizing that everyone must share the punishment. When one player exercises bad judgement, everyone pays which is precisely the incentive not to use bad judgement. The social cost of doing so is high, or at least, should be.

#9 Comment By Neal On April 2, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

It’s essentially putting the costs on those with the best information to resolve it otherwise. At parties, it is the hosts who are billed unless they can provide more specific information. In dorms they bill by entry, or sometimes by floor, for damages. As a rule, it seems wise to dole out some fine to those who may have an incentive to stop in the future.

The burden here should be on those who weren’t there to prove that they weren’t (yes, guilt by association) and then ratchet up the bills on those remaining.

The alternatives are not better. We can increase enforcement/over policing (how much do people want even more uniformed folks killing the mood at a party?). I’d much rather have the students working in a more flexible self-policing atmosphere (ie. not antagonistic until it *has* to be as students get unjust damage bills and are sick of people trashing their house). Another unsavory alternative is for the college to start absorbing the costs of irresonsible behavior without any policy for future deterrence.

#10 Comment By Loweeel On April 2, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

Neal — spoken like somebody with a true law-and-economics understanding of Torts!

#11 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On April 2, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

In bemusement at all the above, I am reminded that a local theatre and church were vandalized last winter, by two drunks walking home.

The two drunks were Art History professors.

Should we send part of the bill to Whitney Stoddard’s estate?