A few weeks back, Brown University announced the elimination of some of its varsity sports. The Providence, Rhode Island-based university boasts the third most varsity sports of any university in America. Yet Brown’s varsity teams are not exactly known for winning Ivy League championships. And so university administrators felt that in order for their teams to become more competitive, they should focus on a smaller pool of teams. It seems logical enough, particularly in light of the fact that Brown — and all of our nation’s universities — are facing cutbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And what an opportune time to eliminate some varsity sports — including sports the school has made attempts to eliminate in the past — since students aren’t on campus to protest! So which sports were cut?
Brown Eliminates a Number of Varsity Sports
As Brown’s President Christina H. Paxson announced, “Effective immediately, Brown will cease training, competition and related operations at the varsity level for the following sports: men and women’s fencing; men and women’s golf; women’s skiing; men and women’s squash; women’s equestrian; and men’s track, field and cross country (which are three varsity sports under federal Title IX rules governing access to opportunities in sports). In addition, club coed sailing and club women’s sailing each will transition to varsity status. A number of the sports being transitioned out of varsity status already have club counterparts. This list includes golf, running, skiing and squash. Assuming there is student interest, equestrian and fencing would become new club sports.”
Brown Then Reverses Decision on Elimination of a Few Varsity Sports
But like when Dartmouth College bowed to mounting pressure to reinstate its swimming and diving teams back in 2002 after their elimination was announced, Brown reversed course on its decision to eliminate the university’s track and field and cross country teams. And why? Because many argued that these teams add diverse students to Brown’s campus. We happen to agree. And while we’re sad for students at Brown who will no longer be able to continue playing squash and golf or competing in equestrian, fencing, or skiing, let’s face it: these are sports of the privileged that don’t add a whole lot of diversity to college campuses. If our nation’s elite colleges really are serious about diversity then it’s high time they stop earmarking slots in incoming classes for fantastic golfers. Sorry golfers. But really.
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