SVC Football: an irresponsible experiment

Evan Hrobak
Letter to the Editor

Zach Noble’s previous editorial sparked a heated argument among the Saint Vincent College community. When I read the article, I didn’t see anything particularly controversial about it.  Noble pointed out obvious flaws in a program that has done a lot of damage to SVC and was reasonable in his criticisms. Unlike a lot of writers, he provided a brief example of experience that had colored his outlook. Anyone who can be completely objective about a topic probably doesn’t have much experience with the subject matter. Aside from demonstrating humility, Noble’s anecdote about abusive football players let me know that I wasn’t alone in my pains as a freshman at SVC. That matters. I include the following paragraph in hopes that it gives someone else relief from the plight of lonesomeness in fear.
My encounters with several of the football players that the college had recruited made me and a lot of other guys feel pretty unwelcome. During the second day of orientation for my freshman year, I watched two large, drunk football players argue in my pod. The argument ended when the bigger one clocked the smaller one in the face. This fellow received more financial aid in merit scholarship than I did too, which is a bit disconcerting, because his grades were awful in college and in high school. Of course, the folks at Admissions can’t possibly predict which students will be horrible people, so I would never fault them for that. But the difference in dollar signs leads me to surmise that the college cared more about his forty time than my GPA. In my second semester, Res Life had to move a football player from another pod to mine because he had punched one of his podmates.  Outside of all of the physical violence, which really didn’t make me feel safe living at SVC, other football players called me [specific emasculating slurs] a lot, but that was annoying more than it was scary.  Naturally, I’ve met some football players that are great guys too. And most of the people I just described have flunked out.  Unfortunately, some of the great guys flunked out too. And my concerns in the following paragraphs aren’t with the criminals who victimized the students but with the great guys who were victimized by the program.
While the college’s representatives could not have possibly predicted the behavioral problems, they could have easily predicted that high school students with poor GPAs and low test scores wouldn’t perform adequately at SVC. Through irresponsible recruiting, the college damaged the academic atmosphere in freshmen courses and put unprepared eighteen year-olds, who were looking for a way in life and trusting the representatives of our school, in a position of almost guaranteed failure.
When unprepared students pollute core class like Lang and Rhet and First Philosophy, the prepared students have a less-than-stellar classroom experience and end up unprepared for their more advanced coursework. The professors cannot teach the six principles of good writing if they have to teach basic sentence structure.
The unprepared students that the recruiters encourage to come to SVC feel out of place in lectures filled with words that aren’t in their vocabularies. They waste time failing courses at SVC, when they could be succeeding at other institutions or in the job market. Plenty of people are not academically inclined, and this doesn’t mean that they are lesser people. But they shouldn’t be attending SVC because they will feel unvalued in a culture that values academic achievement.  And no one should tell these kids that they should attend SVC because they could benefit the football program. Their lives and their futures are far more important than a game they like to play. A guy who could have a productive and fulfilling life as a mechanic shouldn’t have to flunk papers on Aristotle because someone in the Athletic Department wants a better football team.
When football trumps human dignity, a lot of people get hurt.
People who love football and the type of educational experience that SVC provides exist. Instead of exclusively targeting these guys, our recruiters irresponsibly pursue confused kids who fail at SVC and make freshmen courses unproductive and existentially threatening to those that belong somewhere else.
For the record, I agree wholeheartedly with Noble’s argument that the football program drains the college’s resources. But I’m less disturbed by the college wasting money than I am by the college wasting time. I say, with Zach Noble, “End the SVC football experiment,” because when people can’t play responsibly, they shouldn’t get to play.

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