Varsity Athletics Point/Counterpoint: Marginalized Groups Suffer from Amherst’s Toxic Athlete Culture, Says My Black Friend, Who Is Real

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Counterpoint: Marginalized Groups Suffer from Amherst’s Toxic Athlete Culture, Says My Black Friend, Who Is Real

Matt Chooler ’17

Let’s face it: athletics are a huge part of campus, deciding where you can sit at Val to where you can party on Saturday. Unfortunately, these athletes are overwhelmingly white, which makes entering these athlete dominated spaces uncomfortable for people of color – or at least that’s what my black friend tells me, when we hang out.

We hang out all the time, and he thinks I’m really cool.

During any given dinner at Val, the backroom might host a few hundred athletes, nearly all of whom are white, and majority male. They form an implicit “in group” which excludes the diverse communities about which Amherst claims to care; all this I hear from Marshawn Lynch (no relation), my black friend, who lets me know what they’re saying “in the streets.”

According to my super cool black friend, with whom I converse almost weekly, this social segregation extends to housing, too. “If you think I’m trippin’,” says my non-imaginary friend who just bursts at the seams with melanin, “peep the dorms where the honkies be chillin’, Jenky and The Cock.” (sic) This stands in direct contrast to dorms like Marsh, which would totally accept a black person, were one to ever apply.

If we wish to break down the social barriers on this campus we must interrogate the structures that create those barriers, the most prominent of which is athletics. If we rid this campus of athletics, perhaps people will be more socially open, and I might have two or three black friends, rather than just the one, which is totally fine.

And who knows? If the stars align, I might befriend an Asian student someday.

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