Back in July, we reported that Dartmouth College chose to eliminate certain varsity athletic teams: men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing. Dartmouth was not alone among our nation’s highly selective colleges in choosing to eliminate certain varsity sports during the COVID-19 pandemic — Stanford University and Brown University also chose to cut certain squads. Stanford eliminated men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball, and wrestling. Brown eliminated men’s and women’s fencing, men’s and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men’s and women’s squash, women’s equestrian, and men’s track, field, and cross country.
Synchronized Swimming, Golf, Squash Aren’t Diverse Sports
But not long after Brown announced the elimination of these varsity teams, the school opted to reinstate the men’s track, field, and cross country. And why? Because of public outcry that these teams added great diversity to Brown’s student body. Put simply, synchronized swimming, golf, squash, and equestrian aren’t exactly sports brimming with diversity and by earmarking recruit slots in admissions for these teams, the university was effectively losing out on the chance to admit more underrepresented minority students. And it’s hard to argue with this assessment. Surely these sports can and must do more to attract diverse athletes.
Some Dartmouth Athletes Accuse School of Anti-Asian Bias in Elimination of Certain Teams
Yet just as Brown administrators came to realize that their track, field, and cross country teams featured great diversity, will Dartmouth administrators soon acknowledge they discriminated against Asian American students when eliminating their varsity teams? As Brandon Kochkodin reports for Bloomberg in a piece entitled “Dartmouth Accused of Anti-Asian Bias in Varsity Team Cuts,” “Those five teams included more than 30 Asian-American varsity athletes, nearly half the total number at Dartmouth, 11 members of the swimming and diving teams said in a Tuesday statement. The group is asking the Dartmouth board to conduct an independent investigation into the decision to cut the teams. ‘The college’s decision will further discourage young athletes of Asian descent from pursuing athletics, emphasizing that they are unwelcome from competing in sports at the collegiate level,’ the group said in its statement, which also noted that Asian Americans comprise less than 2% of all NCAA Division I athletes.”
These Sports Can and Must Diversify
And while we are cheering on these students (heck, we swam on Dartmouth’s swim team and wish for it to be reinstated), we have a feeling this move will not lead school administrators to reverse their decision. After all, Asian Americans are not considered an underrepresented minority at Dartmouth just as they are not considered an underrepresented minority at any highly selective college. Until these sports boast more Black / African American, Latinx, and Native American athletes, we’re not sure they’ve got a leg to stand on. It’s why this should be a giant wakeup call to governing bodies like USA Swimming, USRowing, and the like: diversify…or find your college teams eliminated.
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