Sports Scene: It’s Participation That’s Important

September 5, 2010

Yesterday (Saturday) was a first full day of competition for Earlham’s athletics teams.  It was a perfect weather day: not too hot, sunny with puffy clouds.

Our women’s Field Hockey season defeated Transylvania 2-1 for their second straight win to open the season.  Our women’s Tennis team lost a pair of matches to Hanover and Transylvania.  These were our first games in the Heartland Athletic Conference, which we joined this year.  Heartland’s Commissioner, Christopher Ragsdale, was here to watch us start play in the new conference.

In Football, we were bested 33-14 by University of the South (Sewanee).  We played gamely, but made too many mistakes facing an unfamiliar option offense.

There were away games as well.  Women’s Volleyball was at Spalding University, winning one match (against OSU-Marion) and losing to Rochester and host Spalding.  Our men’s and women’s Cross Country teams came in 7th and 5th in an Invitational at Franklin College, another Heartland member.  And our men’s Soccer team lost 3-1 at Case Western University.

What’s remarkable here is that we can field all these teams at the same time.  At Earlham (as at most other Division III NCAA colleges) the emphasis is on participation.  Somewhere between one quarter and one third of all our students will be playing on some intercollegiate athletics team this year.

Each of the contests drew a crowd, and it was especially great seeing the “Quaker Army” out in full voice at these matches.  But it’s not “spectator sports” we value at Earlham, it’s direct participation of a significant percentage of our students.  It’s learning by doing: the fruits of practice and striving, of teamwork and leadership, of sportsmanship and (sometimes) recovering from losses.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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