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Varsity Athletes: Detriments of Team Bonding

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(Lola Fadulu)– There’s an obvious disconnect between athletes and the rest of the Amherst community. In my experience as a member of a varsity team, it seems to be cultivated by the exaggeration of the importance of team bonding. There are a lot of social expectations for varsity athletes. The typical varsity athlete is expected to not only train with their team for about two hours each day, but, also, to go to “team Val” (eating dinner with your teammates). Not only do athletes have to attend competitions on the weekends, which can last up to the entire day, but, oftentimes, they’re also recommended to attend a mixer afterwards (which is usually with another sports team) to celebrate either their win or just overall hard work and effort.  If there’s not a competition or tournament, sometimes captains will arrange an outing to do something else, such as to go apple picking or to go a local amusement park (which are both extremely fun). Sometimes athletes even choose to live together as well. And if you ask why? Well, for team bonding, of course.

Many believe that a team that spends copious amounts of time together wins together. And it makes sense. Teammates need to have a sturdy relationship with each other in order to perform well as a cohesive team. But I think the importance that is placed on team bonding is immensely exaggerated, and is really an excuse for people from similar socioeconomic backgrounds to not feel guilty for spending so much time with each other and not feel guilty for not breaking down cultural barriers instead. Our sports teams are not nearly as diverse as the student body as a whole. This is because, oftentimes, sports attract members of the same socioeconomic class. For example, sports that are very costly will attract athletes from households that are able to afford them. In short, sports have cultures and lack substantial diversity within the actual team. It seems to be true here that all the teams are dominated by athletes from upper income backgrounds (correct me if I’m wrong). Beyond this initial lack of diversity on the team, the huge emphasis on team togetherness stunts athletes from getting to know people different from them socioeconomically. I mean, think about it, after all of those “duties” of the varsity athlete, is there much time to associate with anyone else? Not really. This is a problem that is summed up in a quote from Biddy’s Convocation speech:

“Comfort is essential, but, in the end, it is not comfort if it limits the richness of your social connections or closes you off from their benefits.” – President Martin

I think, in order to broaden the horizons of athletes, there need to be ways that teams can bond not only with each other but also with other groups that aren’t similar to them. For example, perhaps a mixer with a group on campus that isn’t a sports team such as an a cappella group, the orchestra, SHEs, etc. A lot of these groups are more inclusive and representative because participation isn’t influenced as much by external factors such as financial ability to pay for equipment, etc.  This will allow for some sharing of personal experiences and breaking down of barriers.

Also, don’t get me wrong, I do realize that there are exceptions on the sports teams (ahem, me…racial minority from a low-income household). But there aren’t many, and for those of us who are exceptions, it’s kind of daunting being so different from the people that we are required to spend loads of time with. For example, I have found myself shying away from my sports team and not participating in all of our events. When confronted about my lack of participation, I started to feel guilty. Was there something wrong with me? How come I didn’t want to make a greater effort to be with my teammates? Everyone else did. Was I antisocial? After dwelling on it for a while, I realized that this wasn’t just an issue of needing alone time. I decided to talk with a person that my coach introduced me to earlier in the semester, Billy McBride, the Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Diversity and Inclusivity. I spoke candidly with Billy and I told him that I felt really subdued and how I had no desire to participate in social outings. I was surprised to hear that apparently many student-athletes had come into his office expressing the same exact feelings of disconnection and indifference. And our commonality? We were all either student-athletes of color, from low-income households, or of both. In addition to sports teams mixing up the guests of their mixers (see what I did there?), I sincerely think that there should be a program for athletes from lower socioeconomic classes that would aid us in interactions with our team members better. Perhaps a sort of program or talk for incoming athletes to just motivate us to express ourselves and appreciate where we come from. Because, in all honesty, everyone here is a teacher. Everyone here has something meaningful and insightful to share. If some members of our community, when in a situation in which they are the minority, feel subdued, well then Amherst can’t really pride itself on its diversity because it wouldn’t be achieving anything other than the appearance of inclusion.

About Lolade (Lola) Fadulu

"Most of the cruelty in this world is just misplaced anger." - Zadie Smith

25 comments on “Varsity Athletes: Detriments of Team Bonding

  1. Sam Trinkaus
    November 10, 2013

    Well said!

  2. Sharline Dominguez
    November 10, 2013

    I friggin LOVE this article–you honestly could not have articulated this any better. I remember joining the women’s crew team during the second semester of my freshman year and for some time, I was really enjoying it. However, it wasn’t long before I started to feel excluded from some of the mixers and conversations that the other girls on the team were having. It was very “”cliquey” and it was very obvious that I was not as privileged as some of these other girls were. Upon learning that I had to pay $200 each semester in order to participate in the team (boat/ boat house maintenance fees, etc.), not even counting the money for my own gear, I concluded that I just couldn’t afford to be on the team. I agree that there should be a program on campus designed to motivate low- income, students of color who are athletes to not be afraid to feel comfortable expressing themselves. If you ever need help organizing some sort of initiative in regards to this issue, feel free to let me know. I would be more than willing to help :-)

    • Lolade (Lola) Fadulu
      November 11, 2013

      Sharline,
      I’m really surprised that there isn’t some type of waiver to cover that $200 for those who can’t afford it. That doesn’t seem very Amherst-y. I say this because it seems that Amherst goes to great lengths to ensure that finances aren’t an obstacle for students pursuing a certain activity. For example, our team has made it clear that there are waivers available for those who can’t afford dues or certain gear but they have to be sought out which can be a little uncomfortable. Perhaps that’s something that a program could address, you know, like methods of asking. I’m not sure. But I’ll definitely get in contact with you for help!

      Also, thanks for reading and I appreciate your feedback!

      • Marie Lambert
        November 11, 2013

        I can’t speak for other club sports, but I know that it’s definitely possible to waive the $200 crew fee if finances are an issue. Although like Lola pointed out, it seems to be something that you have to actively seek out and people might not know it’s even an option, as in Sharline’s case. I agree with you both though that it would be great to have an initiative to promote socioeconomic diversity in athletics.

        Also, Sharline: I’m sorry to hear that you had a negative experience with the crew team. As a member of the team, I know that it can be difficult to assimilate socially when everyone else has already had a season to bond. That being said, please don’t believe that we are all financially privileged or intended to be maliciously exclusive; we’re really not as homogenous as we seem.

      • Sharline Dominguez
        November 11, 2013

        No worries Lola! And Marie, I sincerely appreciate your comment and want to thank you for clearing that up. Aside from the exclusiveness, I had an amazing time learning about the sport and riding with the coaches on their boats when I was considering coxing. No hard feelings at all! It was truly an unforgettable experience.

  3. Mohammed
    November 11, 2013

    Nice Lola… well said!

  4. Abbeh Anderson
    November 11, 2013

    Yes Yes Yes Yes!

  5. rfajardo16
    November 11, 2013

    Lola,

    I appreciate you taking the time to write this article. It’s interesting to read the perspective of someone other than myself. There are some points that you hit right on the head and I could not agree with more, however there are certain aspects of your article that I respectfully disagree with. As a former member of both the baseball and football teams I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of how team chemistry works. You start your article by assigning “team bonding” as the reason athletes spend so much time together. It is easy to see why someone would define it that way. Like you said, if a team has good chemistry they will almost undoubtedly play better, especially for team sports. However I feel that your main point,

    “I think the importance that is placed on team bonding is immensely exaggerated, and is really an excuse for people from similar socioeconomic backgrounds to not feel guilty for spending so much time with each other”

    is highly speculative and almost entirely based on your own personal opinion. A statement like that is not founded in enough facts to make an accusation so grand. The way you phrase it makes athletes as a whole seem almost egotistical, conceited, and extremely exclusive. Now do not get me wrong, there are absolutely individuals on every athletic team on campus who are completely egotistical, conceited, and exclusive. Unfortunately, the way you phrase it assembles all athletes under the same curtain. It is accusations like this that only further separate the divide between athletes and non-athletes on campus. For example, the non-athlete who may not know many athletes and reads this article now has a tainted view on the Amherst College athlete. Being friends with many athletes and many non-athletes here on campus I can assure you that there are athletes on every sports team who would not consider team bonding as “an excuse for people from similar socioeconomic backgrounds to not feel guilty for spending so much time with each other”. Athletes come into Amherst College trying and hoping to make new friends just like every non-athlete. However the time commitment of playing is not merely a choice, but a lifestyle. Playing a college sport is a lifestyle it is not a hobby. Therefore, it is simple to see that the obnoxious amount of time athletes spend together naturally blossom into friendships that may seem cliquey to the outside world. However, I think it is fair to say that even non-athletes here on campus who have spent an equivalent amount of time the sports teams have together with their own particular club or group have undoubtedly created similar friendships.

    I agree that having to pay equipment is honestly disgusting considering how much money the school flaunts in our face. It was hard myself paying for both my football and baseball gear. However, that problem stems from a systematic flaw of not adequately treating our athletes. The problem of paying equipment is because the school has decided the athletes should pay for their own equipment which seems unheard of to me considering you rarely here of that in collegiate sports. You make the bold leap as to say the underlying reason behind this is because Amherst College sports have a hidden agenda to manipulate the type of person who plays on the sports teams due to socioeconomic standing and that I can assure you is completely false. Maybe that is how you felt about your specific sports team, and your opinion is 100% warranted and if that is how you felt you should absolutely say something. Where I think you went too far is when you generalized all athletes on campus. You do not know the dynamic of enough sports teams to make a statement like this. Speaking for myself, I know that “team bonding” as a means to separate the team into socioeconomic groups was not apparent on either the baseball or football team.

    If you think there should be vehicles for low-income athletes to get to meet each other do you also believe there should be vehicles for the rich athletes to get to meet the other rich athletes? I feel like we are focusing on the wrong problem here. I do not believe the problem is between the rich athlete and the low-income athlete. The problem is the divide between the Athlete and the Non-Athlete. There should be more platforms for the Athlete and Non-Ahtlete to interact. The socials are terrible, they are too hot, too crowded, the music is too loud, too drunk, and too miserable to have any kind of meaningful conversation. The school needs to do a better job finding ways to promote conversation between athletes and non-athletes. If we find a way to do this we can pride ourself on the diversity of the school that we so openly boast about.

    • Lolade (Lola) Fadulu
      November 12, 2013

      Robert,
      I appreciate you taking the time to read this article and taking the time to write a well-thought out comment. I’m going to go through and address each part of your comment.

      I’m sorry that you jumped from that quote to conclude that it states that athletes are “egotistical, conceited, and extremely exclusive”. I understand why you include the exclusivity but I’m misunderstanding why you added “egotistical” and “conceited”. Please comment back and explain why you came to those conclusions.

      I have to respectfully disagree with you that “accusations like this…further separate the divide between athletes and non-athletes”. What furthers the separation between athletes and non-athletes is the fact that discussions about these topics are seldom being had. If anything, this article has the ability to close the divide. It provokes and gives athletes and non-athletes the perfect opportunity to discuss why statements like this one are being uttered all over campus.

      To continue, the article does not simply provide a “tainted view” on the Amherst College athlete. It provides an honest view on the Amherst College athlete from the perspective of an athlete from a low-income household.

      I agree with you that athletes come into Amherst College trying and hoping to make new friends. Athletes also come into Amherst College trying and hoping to form strong bonds with their teammates.

      I agree with you that it is inevitable that friendships blossom after the “obnoxious amount of time that athletes spend together”. But it’s important for student-athletes to find time to interact with other students on campus, just as non-athletes should. Which brings me to your next statement that “even non-athletes here on campus who have spent an equivalent amount of time the sports teams have together with their own particular club or group have undoubtedly created similar friendships”. I realize this. Overall, whether athlete or non-athlete, these exclusive relationships ultimately stunt the intellectual and social growth of the individual.

      I think the reason why you are at such odds with the article is because of the sports that you have participated in: football and baseball. Many sports are not equally accessible to different socioeconomic classes (such as tennis, crew, golf, squash, ice hockey, swimming and diving, lacrosse, equestrian, etc.). As a result, people from lower socioeconomic classes find difficulty in accessing them. And when they are able to, it is because of the help of grants, charities, etc. There are only a few of these students on those sports teams, especially in college, and naturally, there’s discomfort in being the minority. As a result, Amherst College sports do NOT “have a hidden agenda to manipulate the type of person who plays on the sports teams due to socioeconomic standing”. Amherst has NO control over this because this type of “manipulation” occurs well before the athlete arrives on campus. It’s the nature of the sport. All in all, I understand why you are upset and I agree that I shouldn’t have generalized all athletes on campus. But I am also going to venture out and say that being a member of two varsity teams doesn’t make you an expert on the dynamics of enough sports teams to completely dispel my statements.

      You asked, “If you think there should be vehicles for low-income athletes to get to meet each other do you also believe there should be vehicles for the rich athletes to get to meet the other rich athletes?”. You misunderstood what was written which was “I sincerely think that there should be a program for athletes from lower socioeconomic classes that would aid us in interactions with our team members better. Perhaps a sort of program or talk for incoming athletes to just motivate us to express ourselves and appreciate where we come from.” Put simply, I believe that there should be “vehicles” for low-income athletes that help us better acclimate to interacting with more “privileged” teammates.

      Whether you’ve experienced it or not, there is definitely a level of discomfort between the “rich” athlete and the low-income athlete. Perhaps we’re good at hiding it. In addition to that problem, there is a problem with the divide between the Athlete and the Non-Athlete. I agree with you that “there should be more platforms for the Athlete and Non-Athlete to interact”. However, I do not believe that it is up to the school “to do a better job of finding ways to promote conversation between athletes and non-athletes”. Instead, it’s the duty of both the athletes and non-athletes. We are the ones who need to take the initiative.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I’m very glad to hear from a different perspective.

      • canderson13
        November 12, 2013

        “Put simply, I believe that there should be “vehicles” for low-income athletes that help us better acclimate to interacting with more “privileged” teammates.”

        This statement makes me extremely uncomfortable. Why should low-income athletes have to go to extreme lengths to acclimate themselves into the status quo of high-income athletes? This is a problem that stretches far beyond the confines of Amherst’s athletic facilities. During my entire four years at Amherst, I strove to fit in with the people around me, assuming all of them were from high-income backgrounds, while I myself was actually from a low-income household. Honestly, probably all the animosity I ever had towards Amherst had to do with the fact that I felt like I was never really rich enough to attend the college, and worked constantly to portray myself as someone worthy of being there, instead of actually being myself, a person who surely was worthy of being there.
        We all know the numbers about how many students are receiving financial aid, but those numbers don’t feel real on campus. Almost everyone on campus looks privileged, and probably is privileged in one way or another, and for me that atmosphere was stifling. I know that I could have done better during my time there, and looking back I don’t hate the school for how I felt there, but I think there need to be “vehicles” that allow everyone to talk openly about socio-economic status, and how to be comfortable in whatever status that might be.

      • Lolade (Lola) Fadulu
        November 12, 2013

        You raise a really great point and I definitely agree that the program should be more geared towards teaching everyone how to be comfortable with whatever socioeconomic status that they come from. But, in a way, the more comfortable one is with their status, the more comfortable they should feel in interacting with people from different statuses. So I think it’d be necessary for a program that addresses both.

        By the way, this is actually mentioned in the article: “Perhaps a sort of program or talk for incoming athletes to just motivate us to express ourselves and appreciate where we come from.”

        Thanks for posting!

  6. Anonymous
    November 12, 2013

    你写得很好。I mean both the language and the content are 好极了!

    • Lolade (Lola) Fadulu
      November 12, 2013

      您看了我很高兴。谢谢!

  7. Anonymous
    November 12, 2013

    Yes yes yes, you have articulated my frustration so well. As an international student, I’m a PoC receiving a crap load of money from the school, and when it comes time to fundraise for my team (I’m on crew), I naturally shyed away. I have had the exact same feelings as you have. However, Amherst is not alone in this problem, and I imagine we would have to go a LONG way. However, this article is an excellent start.

  8. Anonymous
    November 12, 2013

    As a current alumnus and ex-athlete (I quit my freshman year because I found the culture to be so oppressive, close-minded and insufferable), I can’t give you enough credit for having the strength to publish these truths. Interestingly enough, I came from an upper-middle class background, so, while this upbringing commonly breeds a herd mentality and complacency of thought and conviction, it doesn’t always—be mindful of that.

    • Anonymous
      November 12, 2013

      It is very easy to categorize people based on their background, so I appreciate that you bring this up. That being said, it breaks my heart everytime someone says ‘I quit not because I didn’t like the sports or I couldn’t handle the time, but because of the people.’ How sad.

  9. Matt
    November 12, 2013

    Tagging on to the end of your column: Or perhaps we need a program for the majority of athletes to learn how to incorporate better those who feel like outliers?

    • Lolade (Lola) Fadulu
      November 12, 2013

      I think that that’s also a great idea. I think that we need a program that addresses both of these topics. Both the majority of athletes and the “outliers” need to figure out how to meet each other halfway.

  10. The Lord Jeffery Amherst
    November 13, 2013

    Who’s the jabroni that wrote this?!?

    “This is because, oftentimes, sports attract members of the same socioeconomic class. For example, sports that are very costly will attract athletes from households that are able to afford them. In short, sports have cultures and lack substantial diversity within the actual team. It seems to be true here that all the teams are dominated by athletes from upper income backgrounds (correct me if I’m wrong).”

    Tell this shmuck that what ‘seems’ to be ‘true’ to him/her needs a more serious reevaluation than the attempt to tie Biddy’s quote (“Comfort is essential, but, in the end, it is not comfort if it limits the richness of your social connections or closes you off from their benefits.” – President Martin) to the ‘problem of varsity athletes duties being a convenient guise for them to not associate with anyone else of differing socioeconomic background’.

    Why don’t I use that quote in reference to the Ultimate Frisbee team or the Rugby team (both non-‘Varsity’) not going out of their way to befriend me? I’m poor. They’re not ‘Varsity’ athletes. Don’t they have time to put down the silver spoons and come engage me in conversation? Let’s talk Xs and Os (or make some XO).

    This ‘author’ is myopic and the article is stupid. In fact, it’s a detriment to my intelligence having read it. This person is now dubbed ‘Billy Madison’ (that’s correct, specific context to support a fact and that’s how you do it, if s/he is reading this). Another example of specific contextual idiocy that directly pertains to my argument: “[P]erhaps a mixer with a group on campus that isn’t a sports team such as an a cappella group, the orchestra, SHEs, etc. A lot of these groups are more inclusive and representative because participation isn’t influenced as much by external factors such as financial ability to pay for equipment, etc.” First off, you’re lucky the word ‘inclusive’ is used correctly here. But more importantly, you don’t think that music/voice lessons and equipment cost more than a pair of soccer cleats (or bare feet!?!) and a ball made out of a dead cat? See, ‘author’, this is an example of myopicism. (True Authors are licensed to employ neologisms).

    Oh, and then there’s this gem: “Also, don’t get me wrong, I do realize that there are exceptions on the sports teams (ahem, me…racial minority from a low-income household). But there aren’t many, and for those of us who are exceptions, it’s kind of daunting being so different from the people that we are required to spend loads of time with.” Quit fucking crying. No one at Amherst is really poor. We’re at fucking Amherst for Christ’s sake. I was awarded full financial aid because of my socioeconomic circumstances, but I’m rich in experience and talent (and on paper for, ahem, being at fucking AMHERST COLLEGE!). Also, you’re contradicting yourself, you idiot. Why don’t you actually put Biddy’s quote to correct use, in the correct context, and learn how to talk with ‘these’ people and be their friends? Are you afraid to find out that they actually don’t care if you have friends outside of their particular circle? Of proof that your whole article is a waste of your’s and everybody else’s fucking time?

    BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: “In addition to sports teams mixing up the guests of their mixers (see what I did there?), I sincerely think that there should be a program for athletes from lower socioeconomic classes that would aid us in interactions with our team members better.” 1) You’re not clever, and trying to show that you’re clever makes you even less clever, which I didn’t think was possible, but you did it and passed with flying colours (see what I did there?). 2) Why don’t you try following Biddy’s advice?!?!!?!?!?!!??!?! You literally quoted it in your own damn article, literally one paragraph before this (and the quote is highlighted for shit’s sake). 3) “If some members of our community, when in a situation in which they are the minority, feel subdued, well then Amherst can’t really pride itself on its diversity because it wouldn’t be achieving anything other than the appearance of inclusion.” WOWZA! You are going to graduate from The Amherst College, prepare to be the minority in the fucking world. Quit bitching! Our fucking motto is “Terras Irradient” (a.k.a. “Let them give light to the world,” if you’re unfamiliar). That means we’re The Enlightened. And guess what else it implies? (I’m only asking because I can tell you’re not a very enlightened reader.) It implies that we need an external power to posses the power to express ourselves AND discretion to use that power in order to give that light to the world. It also implies that the world needs light, which means that we, The Enlightened are, in fact, the minority. Get used to the role and try learning how to compose a fluent, cohesive piece of disputation before you make us all look like over-privileged, under-educated yet over-paying jackasses.

    This person’s article should be relegated to the dusty confines of a wide ruled composition notebook, not ACVoice (or whatever the shit that is). I don’t want someone like this speaking for me. I also take offense that the football field is the default picture for this article. Sure the football team is exclusive, but it’s also the most diverse racially and socioeconomically. Try taking a picture of the squash courts and rosters instead… (Not that I think they’re bad people and/or exclusive because I know them AND give absolutely 0 credence to this article, but, on the whole, they’re a bit better off individually than some members of the other teams and are a bit more monochromatic to boot).

    Shit like this article isn’t eye-opening, nor does it elicit any thoughtful dialogue or practical response…nor will it. Why? Because anyone with a brain can see that the premises are flawed and that this op-ed horseshit belongs in a diary, not on the internet with an eye-catching picture and title as if it’s representative of anything more than another more-than-privileged Amherst student bitching about something because the school permits them after intensively training them on how to do it. Here’s a tip: just because you know how to do so something doesn’t mean you have to do it… Think before you write and try to pigeonhole your personal problems on an institution or a fraction of the ways-of-life that it sanctifies, encourages, and supports.

    Go read a fucking book and write one, in pencil first, before you bash the place that harbors you and your ‘low-income’ ass…

    (Ahem, P.S., I’m allowed to say this because I’m a racial minority, socioeconomic majority (but not at Amherst), and was on and off of a Varsity sports team. Oh, also, apparently everyone’s allowed to say whatever the fuck they want so there’s that, too. Eat it.)

    • Liya Rechtman
      November 13, 2013

      I feel it is necessary to include a quick addendum to this comment, as the EIC and one of the moderators of this site: We allow the vast majority of comments to go up on the website but we very carefully consider comments that use offensive language and insult our authors, other commenters, or any other group/individual. We continue to allow comments like this to go up because we think that minimizing censorship and allowing for the highest possible level of free speech is important for engaging in critical discourse.

      That being said, it is my hope for the author, other commenters and readers not to devolve the conversation to the level of hyperbolic offensive language and ad hominem attack to which the above commenter has sunk. Let us use this as an example and reminder that we best express ourselves and engage in rigorous intellectual/social discourse when we are respectful of the people around us and the space (where cyber or physical, in this case both) that we share with them.

      Lola: very nice job on this article. Remember to weigh the constructive criticism and filter out the aggression and entitlement that is brought out by critical, brave and pointed argument and questions like yours in this piece.

    • Anonymous
      November 13, 2013

      What really scares me is that the author of this comment 1) named himself after a racist, genocidal historical figure (and seems to be proud of it) and 2) is telling the author to “give that light to the world” while simultaneously darkening the world by insulting and degrading another person and their work. While it is important for open debate and criticism to exist on this site and in many other forums, it is important to note how harmful and unhelpful these types of comments and criticisms are. What exactly did this comment achieve outside of making the commenter feel better and more accomplished?

      AC Voice is filled with articles that are heavily opinionated and your comment was almost exclusively your own voice, it seems hypocritical to degrade someone for telling their personal story in a public place and attaching their name to it, when you can hide behind your acidic comments anonymously.

  11. Laken King '11
    November 14, 2013

    Hi, Lola–

    This is Laken–Class of ’11 Amherst Women’s Tennis team. I can totally relate to what you’re saying. Being on a team, there was an immense pressure to fit in and do evrything everyone else was doing–as if being on the team going to practice, workouts, matches on the weekend isn’t enough, we now have mixers, team dinners every night while we’re in season etc. And don’t get me wrong, the tennis team is my family, but let’s be real, we were brought together by tennis. You don’t get to choose your teammates–we do get to choose people outside of a team on campus. If you were working a job for 10 hours a day at work, would you want to go out with work people and do a whole host of things with your colleagues after work every day? No. We have lives. Outside of work, teams, sororities etc.

    Throughout my four years, I stayed true to who I was, which can also be detrimental–it means you don’t compromise and you become stubborn–and I really did–or do–love my team, so compromise it was. The sad thing about being on a team is that you HAVE to work really hard to fit in or else you’e outcast; there is no middle ground. Lonely, alone, by yourself, outcast, pariah, isolated, that is no way to live out your four years in college, as being on a team is a major part of college experience (if you’re on one).

    I was a young black woman on the tennis team, so people may be quick to make it a RACE issue. There are many other factors at play–including PERSONALITY. On a team, or on the Amherst tennis team, it’s be extroverted and wild and fit in or feel isolated. I watched girls come in and girls from my class who tried hard to fit in and become that “college girl.” That lifestyle is NOT for everyone. My dearest friend/teammate–white, upper class–was my closest friend because we had similar temperaments. That lifestyle wasn’t our lifestyle.

    Anyone who has a dissenting opinion from the majority is labeled as controversial, but why can’t it be a conversation, so that we do not marginalize and retaliate against those who don’t fit in, but begin to understand their experience. This is why I love my dear friend on the team–she listened–and tried to understand my experience as a black woman, as race/class did factor in at times.

    I don’t know if any one of those girls, with the exception of one, will ever understand my experience on the team. And trust me, there were a few intense I’ve-had-it-you’re-about-to-get-educated moments, but I don’t think they truly ever listened or wanted to understand my experience. They didn’t have to. My teammates, mostly white, wealthy women, didn’t have to know my experience..they just didn’t have to know it. When you’re of a certain race and status, you can live in a bubble your whole life and never have to go beyond that–and that is just the reality.

    The majority always has a way of making it about their experience and if you go against it or raise your voice, they suddenly play the victim–make it about them–and it’s not them.

    I applaud you, Lola, for sharing how you feel. Never feel like you did something wrong for standing up for something. I had to stand up for myself many o’ times while being on a team. “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything”…

    LET’S LISTEN TO EACH OTHER. There are OTHER experiences on campus.

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2013 by in Sports and tagged , , , .
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