Why Are Non-Athletes Barred from Athletic Areas During Practice?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

During practice times, varsity runners and other sports teams are allowed to use the track and field, while non-athlete students are banned, leading some students to wonder why teams are granted this privilege.

Director of Sports Information Kyle Leach says, “The Athletics Department considers its facilities (fields, tracks, pool, tennis centers, etc.) as our classroom and feel others on the track could be a distraction and possibly change the way a coach may conduct practice. The policy, as with all other athletic facilities, is the specific areas (in this case the track) will be closed during varsity practices.”

Additionally, there are safety concerns about those who are not directly involved in sports. Says Dean Kelly Wilcox, also the field hockey coach, “It is very much a safety issue, particularly with sports with airborne balls: lacrosse, softball, baseball,” and the like.


  1. 0
    Sara Forster ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As the writer of this “Ask the Gazette” I want to point out that it was an “Ask the Gazette” not really an article. We were just asked to find out why athletic areas are closed to non-athletes during practice. The answer is: safety and distraction.

  2. 0
    Seth Green says:

    Also, if you’re just running around the track on the outside lanes people don’t yell at you. We yell at people on the inside lane but that includes people from other teams. Maybe sometimes they do but I’ve done a lot of workouts with non-track people also on the track. Maybe sometimes you get yelled at, I don’t know. But this is a pretty skimpy article. Perhaps an interview with an athlette or a student who has been bothered, and the circumstances of their removal, would have helped.

  3. 0
    another runner says:

    Also, if you’re just running around the track on the outside lane people don’t yell at you. We yell at people on the inside lane but that includes people from other teams. Maybe sometimes they do but I’ve done a lot of workouts with non-track people also on the track. Maybe sometimes you get yelled at, I don’t know

  4. 0
    some overprivileged athlete says:

    Have you considered that the pool, which is VERY RARELY open to the Swarthmore community, is also closed during swim practice hours, which are the exact same as track practice? The same thing with the tennis courts.

    Having additional people running on the track recreationally disrupts team workouts. If you have ever tried to do speedy intervals while weaving in and out of a line of chatting power-walkers, you would understand. Track reserves the facility for only 2 hours a day, and there are plenty of other places to run. If you can’t find some other aerobic activity or running location, you are woefully uncreative. Furthermore, we do not restrict specific areas of the mullan training center to athletes only during practice hours, which is a widespread phenomena at other schools; the 30 minute time limit on cardio equipment cuts atheletes off the same way it does for everyone else.

  5. 0
    Rebecca says:

    In response to EE: running among other runners CAN actually be dangerous, and furthermore, for actual runners, it’s highly, highly annoying to have extraneous people on the track during practice (sometimes even other athletes who use the track to warm up or cool down). As a swarthmore track runner, I really don’t think it’s a problem if joggers (and athletes of other sports) use the outermost lane (lane eight), but if varsity runners are on the track doing a workout, it’s extremely exhausting to have to yell “track!” mid-speed-work. Furthermore, the track team uses the track mostly on days in which we are doing speed-work, meaning that we are moving very quickly as compared to random non-athlete joggers. This means that collisions are much more likely to happen.

  6. 0
    Andy says:

    This shows that Swarthmore clearly needs better, larger, and more accessible athletic facilities. It is not only reasonable, but necessary for athletic teams to have private space. However, there should also be places for nonathletes to workout and exercise. The facilities here are sub-par compared to a lot of similarly ranked schools. There’s no reason we can’t have a good academic and athletic program. The facilities we have now discouraging for both athletes and nonathletes.

  7. 0
    Matt says:

    Is it not understandable that a Varsity coach doesn’t want random Swatties running around the track when there’s a practice going on? Maybe this will help non-athletes understand a bit better: Think about sports practices are like a play practice. Does the director want the audience to show up to rehearsals and hear everything he says to the actors? Don’t you think, knowing the audience is beside him, that his demeanor and coaching style might have to be altered because he must consider the feelings of those not involved in the play?

    Coaches want to yell, want to have private discussions with players, and most of all, want to have privacy so they have free range over their specific facility, in this case, the track. It’s not like there aren’t 15 other hours in the day during which you can get your jog in. When these sports (track/lacrosse) are in season, they take precedent. It has nothing to do with money given.

    And as for this quote by TT: “…maybe you should have gone to a state school with a big-ass athletic program and no academics to speak of. Swarthmore is not that.” Last time I checked, Amherst and Williams have so kick-ass athletics programs and the facilities to boot. And, oh yeah, they’re ranked 1 and 2, ahead of Swarthmore. We may not be a “big-ass program”, but that doesn’t mean that our facilities should be given out to those Swatties who think that their mile run takes precedent over safety and priority.

  8. 0
    Miles Skorpen ( User Karma: 6 ) says:

    To clarify the purpose of this article: The Daily Gazette has, as many of you know, a feature called “Ask the Gazette.” Anyone can send Swarthmore-related questions to the Gazette, and we do our best to answer them. In this case, we were asked:

    “Why aren’t we allowed to use the track during varsity sports practices on the field? I understand why maybe during lacrosse or field hockey practice it’s not such a hot idea, but what about soccer? If the cross country team can warm up on the track, it can’t just be a safety issue.”

  9. 0
    EE says:

    I would like to echo AQ and assert that this article does not hold up to its title; however, I believe that the article should have investigated and explained farther. I am distressed to learn that the track is not open to students all the time (I understand the danger of using athletic fields during team practices, but running among other runners should not be considered dangerous). Furthermore, I heartily agree with the first Anonymous message. Non-dance students pay tuition to the college, which helps fund the college’s dance studios. However, these studios are not open for general use. Primarily, Folk DANCE classes must be held in the Community Center, and the only place open to hold Contra DANCEs is Upper Tarble. Open dance nights, and other dance events (private waltz, swing, etc. parties) would also be a benefit of opening dance studios to the general student body. I understand that the dance department wants to preserve their floors; however, they could simply require no food or drink, and certain footwear. A good number of non-dance majors (especially Folk Dancers) already have appropriate non-damaging footwear.

  10. 0
    TT says:

    To be fair, there is a difference between “off-limits” and the varsity teams or dance classes having priority over others as to who gets to use the space. Also, money has nothing to do with it unless you really think we should divert funds from things like academics and non-athletic facilities (your dorm?) into building another fieldhouse or something. If you do think that…I don’t know, maybe you should have gone to a state school with a big-ass athletic program and no academics to speak of. Swarthmore is not that.

  11. 0
    AQ says:

    This headline reads like the article is going to be a piece of investigative reporting about how evil the athletic department is. It’s good that the article is not this since closing facilities during practices is a very reasonable policy, but now the headline is just sensationalist for no reason.

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