The Moneyball of Ivy League Sports
As our readers know, America’s elite colleges, including the Ivy League colleges, seek singularly talented students. One such singular talent can absolutely be a sport — provided the student is being recruited by the college coach at that institution for that sport. If a student swims but isn’t fast enough to get recruited by Ivy League swim coaches, participation in that sport isn’t an angle for admission. But as we’ve long pointed out, we believe the Ivy League schools — and all highly selective schools for that matter — offer too many slots to recruited athletes. And as groups like Students for Fair Admissions took aim at Affirmative Action, which they argued took away slots from deserving Asian American applicants, it’s been our position that Affirmative Action isn’t anymore to blame than athletic recruiting. So why single out underrepresented minorities — many of whom also come from low-income families?
Ivy League Athletic Recruits Are Often Wealthy
No, we’ve long suggested that groups like SFFA take aim at athletic recruiting. Now we’re not unreasonable. We understand that football is a revenue-generating sport. And we understand that the further a college’s basketball team advances in March Madness — if they happen to make the Tourney — the more applications the school will likely receive the subsequent admissions cycle. But squash? Swimming? Crew? Do these teams really need so many reserved slots in each incoming class? And who exactly is filling these slots?
Look no further than a well-researched piece authored by Liam O’Connor in The Daily Princetonian entitled “Ivy League athletics are the new ‘Moneyball’.” The piece, which is a must-read, shines a bright lantern on how the vast majority of recruited athletes hail from wealthy enclaves and many from the same fancy schmancy schools. And just how did O’Connor reach this conclusion? He took the time to go through all the Ivy League athletic rosters.
Ivy League Athletic Recruits Hail from More or Less the Same Fancy Enclaves
As O’Connor writes of the geography, “The homes of the Ivy League’s more than 7,000 athletes were clustered around the suburbs of major cities. They mostly lived in the Interstate 95 Corridor, which extends from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Other hotspots included Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. One in 10 American players lived in a hometown featured on Bloomberg’s 2018 list of ‘100 Richest Places.’ Connecticut’s Gold Coast had the highest concentration of athletes of any area in the U.S. One hundred and ninety-five came from lower Fairfield County, a third of whom were Greenwich residents alone. Rowing was the most popular sport there, followed by squash.”
Ivy League Athletic Recruits Hail from More or Less the Same Fancy Schools
And as to the schools, O’Connor writes, “Team rosters also showed that private high schools funneled dozens of athletes into the Ivy League. The Noble and Greenough School (annual cost: $58,100 for boarding students) had 50 alumni as varsity athletes. Deerfield Academy ($60,680) came in second with 36 students; Phillips Exeter Academy ($55,402), third, with 32; and the Lawrenceville School ($66,360), fourth, with 30. Noble and Greenough’s Communication Office didn’t respond to my request for comment. One out of every seven British athletes attended Eton College ($51,324) or St. Paul’s School ($47,378), of whom the majority were rowers. Greenwich High School topped the public school list with 32 athletes. Newport Beach’s Corona del Mar High School and the Chicago North Shore’s New Trier High School tied for second at 21. Other notable top public schools whose contributions occupy the high teens include Princeton High School, Weston High School, Darien High School, and Manhasset High School. At least 11 private high schools had 20 or more seniors who became athletes, versus just three public schools.”
Ivy Coach salutes Princeton’s Liam O’Connor for his extremely well-researched exposé on Ivy League athletics — it’s the very best piece of the year on college admissions in a college newspaper! Do check it out.
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