Letter to the Editor: Sports (1-0) vs. Education (0-1)

December 11, 2013 | 6:19 p.m.

Opinion | Sarah Kopp

Yes, there is a banner in regards to Bethel football’s incredible season announcing them as the MIAC champions, as there should be. Our athletes work hard to not only be excellent in their sports but also excellent in the classroom. This is one very important aspect I believe Lexie left out of her review of athletics in college; the fact that these athletes are students, and if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be playing.

Yes, we hear stories of athletes who get scholarships to attend a college, where they would never be accepted based on solely their academic performance; however, these students are required to maintain a certain grade point average in order to keep that scholarship. Couldn’t we look at it as an opportunity for students who normally would not have a chance for a college education to receive one? This is beyond the scope of the Bethel community, which this article was written to address. Bethel, being a DIII school, does not give out sport scholarships, and the research presented in the article does not apply to Bethel.

However, as a non-athlete who works hard to succeed in my own academic endeavors, I have yet to see a poster or email sent to the student body announcing my success in the biology department. Expecting this for every student is ridiculous, but how often do we see banners announcing Student Senate or Sigma Zeta? In a philosophy course, I learned the phrase, “Treat equals equally and unequals unequally.” By giving extra privileges or unequal recognition, it is putting us in the category of treating unequals unequally. I would challenge this by questioning what makes these other groups less worthy of privileges or recognition than the football team?

Do I believe there is an unequal amount of recognition for athletes at Bethel, specifically the football players? Yes. Do I, as a non-athlete, ever become frustrated with the amount of seemingly extra attention they receive? Yes. Do I believe that football players should be given special privileges in their classes that the non-athletes do not? No. Do I believe that other areas of Bethel’s community need to be highlighted and given equal recognition? Absolutely.

However, what I do not believe is that it is right to create a separation between the football players and the “academics.” The football team is an incredible asset to our school in more ways than winning the MIAC championship. Men on the team are involved in different programs, majors, ministries and committees at Bethel. They are strong leaders, and the community they display is something I greatly admire, not to mention the friendships they’ve established outside the team. As a Bethel non-athlete and personal friend to individuals on the football team, it saddens me to see how this article has been handled by both sides of the argument. Social media bashings and personal insults being hurled at Lexie and the football team do not reflect the type of community of which I want to be a part.

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