There’s a Hidden Hierarchy in Athletics. Let’s Change That.

As a four-year member of a varsity athletic team, it has been extraordinary to watch the growth and success of the athletics department since my first year. Teams such as baseball, women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s swimming, and men’s basketball have made themselves national forces and have achieved conference dominance. Other teams, such as men’s and women’s lacrosse, track and field, and men’s and women’s tennis have also grown to become strong contenders in the Centennial Conference, a much different scenario than the state of the athletic department in previous decades.

The recent success of the certain teams in the athletics program has illuminated the fact that certain varsity teams receive preferential treatment, both within the student-athlete body and the athletic department’s communications office. Student-athletes and the athletics communication department laud achievement by some teams, while similar or equivalent success by other teams is met with less enthusiasm, less press coverage, and less overall consideration. The nature of the sports that they play are seemingly deemed less important and are undervalued. This has to do with how certain sports are perceived in the United States, as well as the nature of collegiate athletics as an industry. Popular, lucrative sports such as basketball and baseball will always draw more attention and praise, and I can’t fault that fact. These are large, systemic relationships that are not unique to Swarthmore, and it is not the fault of one group at the college or another. However, it is imperative that we as a community have accurate and equitable treatment of sports, as well as an inclusive student-athlete body. Swarthmore needs to strive to give all athletes fair treatment, as this will lead to more positive student-athlete experiences and increase athletes’ desire to achieve athletic success.

From my perspective, Swarthmore’s varsity teams are split into two separate groups, based on the social influence of the students who play those sports, how those sports are or would be treated given conference or national success, and the popularity of the sport in our larger society. The two groups are as follows:

Group One: men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s basketball, and baseball

Group Two: men’s and women’s swimming, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, volleyball, field hockey, golf, men’s and women’s cross country/track and field, and softball

If you guessed that I’m a member of Group Two, you would be right. I’ve met my closest friends and have some great memories from my sport, but I have seen the differences with how these groups of athletes are treated within the athletic community.  

The types of students that are in Group One are hard to miss around campus. They are largely very outgoing, dominate party spaces — due to the fraternities being largely composed of lacrosse and baseball players — and organize in a manner that if you see one of them, another one or multiple are not far behind. I acknowledge that Group Two students also congregate together and are active in social life, but four years have shown me it’s less evident. The members of Group One celebrate each other’s success and largely don’t celebrate their accomplishments of Group Two teams. Could you picture baseball or men’s lacrosse hosting parties for women’s tennis or women’s basketball if they won a conference championship as they did for women’s soccer in 2017 and 2018? Most likely not. Do you go out on a Thursday or Saturday night and see a Group One team comprising a large part of a fraternity or Olde Club party? Most likely yes. In my experience, if you ask a Group One student about upcoming games or recent results of a Group Two team, odds are they will not be able to answer. Ask a Group One student about another Group One team, and they are more likely to be aware.

This relationship between Group One and Group Two is also reflected in the social media presence of the athletic department. In recent weeks, the Twitter and Instagram feeds of Swat Athletics have been inundated with pictures and videos of men’s basketball run to the NCAA DIII Championship. Along with hundreds of other students and community members, I cheered them on the whole way. But I also know that if teams such as field hockey, softball, and men’s tennis made a similar run, Swat Athletics would likely not present the same coverage. Last year, was it possible to not know about baseball’s season given the countless articles, interviews, and pictures documenting their season? Many of their games were followed by a detailed article, interview with players/coaches, and highlight videos while other teams mostly just get a short recap. Was it also possible to ignore that women’s soccer made it to the Round of 32 or the Sweet Sixteen this year from the constant Instagram Live streams of all their games?

When volleyball made it to the Elite Eight in 2017, they received press from Swat Athletics, but not nearly to the extent of the Group One teams, despite achieving a comparable accomplishment. Volleyball had about eighteen Instagram posts relating to their NCAA run, men’s basketball had about 32, and the difference in the number of posts on Twitter was much larger. You could argue that the two fewer games that volleyball played warranted less attention, but it still is a lopsided difference. The same unequal coverage goes for men’s swimming and their success over the past four years —two conference championships and high NCAA finishes — again, not nearly the same amount of dedication to tracking their every move.   

If you notice how results and articles are compiled and written, those of teams in Group One are compiled and posted very soon after the conclusion of their games. For results and articles of those in Group Two? In some cases, it can take hours and full days, and even then some stories and results can be missing. For example, men’s/women’s track and field had a meet from March 14-16, but the recap article was not published until March 20, while men’s/women’s lacrosse and men’s basketball also had games on March 16 and the recaps were all published about two to three hours after the games ended. The same goes for roster photos and information. Some Group Two teams have missing team and individual photos and bios, whereas Group One teams are not missing any information. Men’s and women’s cross country and track and field, men’s and women’s swimming, golf, and women’s tennis have missing or outdated bios and roster pictures at the time of publication. It’s a nuanced yet significant statement that follows the larger pattern in our society that Group Two sports are secondary.

If you pour hours of time and hard work into a sport and achieve success only for it to be pushed aside by fellow student-athletes and members of the athletics department, what’s the motivation to compete and win? I truly believe that every athlete appreciates having their work validated by their peers and their surrounding community (and if you don’t need validation, you’re a better person than me). That’s not the case at Swarthmore, or at most other colleges. If you play a Group Two sport, you should make sure you have your own support system and cheer team, because the nature of college athletics in our society will not provide those for you.   


  1. My friends (and fellow Group Two athletes) are always grumbling about how the athletics department treats us. In the 2017-2018 school year, the athletic department used the same pictures from a single September cross country meet when publishing articles on the athletic website for nearly a whole year. We also often need to encourage them to write about our meets, etc. Over Spring break this year, they completely forgot to post on the Instagram that we had a meet during our training trip, and one of the team members had to message and remind them. Bios for our athletes are nonexistent, and long-promised locker room improvements are yet to be delivered. I find it discouraging that after practicing for nearly three hours a day, and dedicating whole weekends to competition, the athletic department considers and treats us differently than the Group One athletes.

    I also want to touch on the nature of how Group One athletes support other Group One athletes. Particularly at basketball games, Group One athletes dominate the student section (usually occupying the first two rows of bleachers and the floor near the side of the court). I know that people feel less than welcome among this group of athletes. If someone not in this group (read: mens lacrosse, baseball, former mens basketball players) were to try and stand and cheer with them, the social pressure would be enough for you to know that you are not welcome, even if no one specifically says anything. This, of course, transfers into party spaces, where Group One athletes feel enabled to do all sorts of things, knowing that they will be supported by their friends around them. The groupthink makes it difficult to be part of Group One and speak out against bad behavior.

    • Have you ever seen anybody be exclusionary in the front of the student section or are you just expecting nobody to call you out on this presumptuous unfounded commentary. Do you think anybody cares enough about your presence to stop watching and cheering the game to go out of their way to make you feel unwelcome for cheering for the exact same team? Come on

  2. This is mostly well-written and pretty fair from my experience, but it should also be noted that the subsection of the athletics department responsible for press coverage and such (athletic communications office) literally has TWO people running the show. Brandon and Kyle do a pretty incredible job, especially compared to other D3 schools and given that the two of them are responsible for covering 20-some-odd teams every year. Just in the spring alone they’ve got baseball, softball, two lacrosse teams, track and field, AND tennis (and golf?). The number of students available and willing to work each game is also a considerable factor. The office is staffed with Gameday Opperations Assistants to work at each game, running the cameras, taking photos, announcing, etc. The more workers Brandon and Kyle have on deck, the more likely it is that they’ll have the time, energy, and ability to provide better press and social media coverage. It’s fair to say that significantly more students work baseball than do softball (I’ve been around both, so I know), leaving Brandon and Kyle struggling to make everything run smoothly all on their own. Given the lack of student workers willing to put less time into those Group 2 sports, I can understand how the AC department has their hands tied. So while I think this article certainly has merit, I think there’s a little more nuance that has to be unearthed. Brandon and Kyle really do a bang-up job, considering everything!

  3. Great and thoughtful article! Don’t want to take away the praise and highlights of ANYONE’s achievements but striving for equality! I’d be interested in seeing some graphs or visualizations of some of the social-media stats mentioned. I think that could really drive home the point.

  4. Speaking as a senior member of the XC/TF team – we have mismatched uniforms, no name placards in our lockers (despite being promised them for the last 5 months), constantly misreported meet results accompanied by the same 2 photos every-time, dozens of missing headshots, and severely outdated and neglected facilities and equipment. Regarding your groupings, I would love to see the variation between average expenditures on a group 2 athlete versus a group 1 athlete per season. That could be a powerful statistic to further your point.

  5. So I’ve went through every single Instagram post by swat athletics in the past year and have come to some interesting findings.
    Baseball – 102 Instagram Posts
    M. Basketball – 74
    W. Soccer – 32
    M. Tennis – 30
    W. Lacrosse – 25
    Volleyball – 23
    W. Tennis – 21
    M. Soccer – 16
    M. Lacrosse – 16
    Softball – 16
    Womens Track and Field – 16
    W. Basketball – 14
    M. Swimming – 14
    Field Hockey – 14
    Mens Track and Field – 14
    Golf – 13
    Womens Swimming – 8
    Womens XC – 6
    Mens XC – 3

    Then I went on to break this down more, splitting all posts up to either being about team or individual accomplishments, then I took how many wins the team had in the previous year, and divided it by how many team posts each team received. I was not able to calculate this for XC, Golf, or Track and Field because they don’t have well defined wins and losses.
    Baised on team posts/#of wins:
    Tier 1 – Womens Basketball, Mens Tennis, Mens Soccer, Womens Lacrosse, Womens Tennis, Baseball, Mens Basketball
    Tier 2 – Womens Soccer, Volleyball, Mens Lacrosse, Softball, Mens Swimming, Field Hockey, and Womens Swimming

    I agree about the volleyball vs. baseball idea, and it does look like volleyball has gotten the short end of the stick but splitting up teams like womens soccer and mens lacrosse who also don’t seem to get very many posts per win is biased.

    As far as your point about parties, teams hold parties for other teams in which they have friends in. Although no tier one teams (by the authors definition) have thrown parties for team two teams, I don’t know of any tier two teams throwing a party for a tier 1 team, it works both ways.

    If we look back at the instagram posts some teams are getting screwed, XC and track and field should get more posts, but the divide isn’t as stark as it is made out to be in this article. Unfortunately there is no way to measure training facilities, but there’s one turf field on this campus for 5 teams, 4 of whom are tier 1 teams, where as other tier two teams do not have to share their facilities. At the end of the day this isn’t as cut and dry as you make it out to be.

    • Your points are pretty interesting. However, I feel that it is pretty easy to define a win for sports like track and golf. If an individual or the entire team wins an event, that should warrant at least one post. In recent weeks, this has become very apparent. For instance, women’s lacrosse actually lost a game last week (I think to F&M), and that received a post because one player scored a bunch of goals. However, track and golf both performed well over spring break, yet didn’t even get a mention that they were on a spring break trip?!? That isn’t right, and these posts or lack there of create a striking inequality and social hierarchy between the delineated group 1 and group 2 teams.

      • I was trying to get this post out before class and didn’t have the time to go through the sports without records at the top, sorry about that. I agree with you winning an event should warrant a post. I’d argue that splitting everyone into two groups is absurd, mens lacrosse and soccer have received the same social media presence as womens track and field. These lists were made based on how the teams are viewed socially on campus and not their social media presence or how much the school ‘cares’ about them. Additionally every single team on campus can give an argument as to why they are lesser on campus, and taking a single instance such as this one doesn’t tell any sort of story, we need to look at this with a wider view. Theres no statistical argument for mens lacrosse and mens soccer being in tier one. Can you please give me your long term evidence of the ‘striking hierarchy’ between the 1 and 2 tiers? I can’t find any.

    • Not a golfer here, but I’m pretty sure that was paid for entirely by alums in a building that was, similarly, paid for entirely by an alum (paid for by kohlberg and named after the previous coach if I’m correct).

      That being said I laughed hard at this comment

  6. This article is pure conjecture. I’d wager that if a “category 2” sport managed to make a historic run, they’d receive plenty of coverage from swat athletics. This is college, they don’t hand out participation awards anymore.

    • I’d argue that the swim team has been making a historic run for the past two seasons? I would also argue that with independent sports like these, broken records qualify as “historical”. This should be self evident – they are being set for the first time in Swarthmore College history. There have been a handful of records broken across men and women’s swimming and track & field, some of them decades old, that have received little to no recognition this year alone. I can count 4 off of the top of my head that have been broken so far for track this year, and we still have 6 more track meets.

      If you’re going to make a claim like this (which I do think has merit as long as it’s well supported) make sure you go through each and every team’s performances this year and last and really get an idea of how they have been performing.

  7. If there isn’t a line by which you are being forced into the hierarchy, is this not merely a question of the social culture of (dominant) team sports rather than some tragic misallocation of resources? Do atheletes belong at this school? If the athletic department begun to post incessantly about every sport would the social inflation become uniform? Or diffuse?
    Additionally, There are gender disparities in athletics and despite tireless work to promote equal opportunity they persist.
    And then there are people who chose to come to a college to play a sport that lacks viewership and lack support at this institution. No one promised you facilities, social media, support. What different sports gain from the athletic department is tough. Were there evidence to link conflated athletic ego to crude social behavior isn’t the answer to delete the instagram and stop promoting everyone? Play sports because you love the game not for recognition.

    • I’d say I agree with nearly everything you’ve said apart from your claim regarding promises made to athletes.

      For many recruited Swarthmore athletes, this step to the collegiate level is a very strategic decision. Swarthmore allows us to pursue the sport we love at a relatively controlled pace while also focusing an appropriately proportional amount of our time on schoolwork and other extracurriculars – a balance which major D1 schools do not provide their athletes.

      On recruiting visits, student athlete prospects are sold a perfect picture of a glimmering and supportive athletic department. We’re promised progressive and inclusive coaching, a balanced and healthy lifestyle, and excellent facilities.

      Now, I think you are absolutely right – being an athlete doesn’t mean we have some inherent right to facilities and support. I don’t think any person or team inherently deserves recognition, and frankly I could care less about representation on a social media platform. Where the department has gone wrong is with the promises of top-notch facilities and support that it made to athletes when they decided to commit to Swat. Swarthmore college is a business, and I entered this transaction under a falsely advertised set of tangible expectations for my time here.

  8. This is a really well-written piece. In response to some of the comments, let me talk about feelings.

    This weekend, I’m going to race at the Danny Curran Invitational. But you would have no way of knowing that; unlike other athletic competitions, it’s apparently not listed on the campus calendar or the Dash. As usual, the track team will have no fans on Friday or Saturday, despite competing at Widener University, a mere four miles away – closer than Haverford. Nobody will hold banners or tweet out our splits; nobody from the athletics department will notice if we set new personal bests or qualify for the Conference meet. I will go to sleep the night after my race having run my heart out – but virtually nobody will know about it. I’m absolutely not asking for fans I know it’s not easy to get to Widener, given the lack of a shuttle. But the complete absence of external student support nevertheless can have an impact.

    Now, I’m not that talented, and I don’t think I deserve attention – but others on the team are, and do deserve it. 19 days ago, a member of the women’s track team placed seventh in the nation in DIII in the shot put. I counted the number of Instagram posts by @SwatAthletics they got for that feat. It was one. I counted the number of Tweets by @SwatAthletics they got. It was one. I counted the number of articles on the athletics department’s website about the performance. There was one article with (count ’em) six sentences. But to everyone reading this: you’d know all of this, wouldn’t you – if the department provided any significant coverage. Or if there had been banners in Sharples. Or a proper article on the website. I feel like the 13th All-American in women’s track team history deserves more recognition for that, yeah? (Note the counterexample to Marty’s claim above.)

    But it’s more than just a lack of support from the student body and administration at meets. At times, the Group 1 teams themselves behave in ways that are detrimental to the rest of us – and I guarantee that they don’t notice it. For instance, the lacrosse players are unaware of how their missed shots on the turf are extremely dangerous to those of us working out on the track. I got cut off today by a line drive that flew a yard in front of me. Last week, someone got grazed. If that shot had been a meter higher, it would have hit them in the head. But I’m sure the players on the field – the ones who *are* wearing body armor – weren’t paying attention. Maybe they consider us to be lesser athletes. This sort of thing contributes to (or even creates) a feeling of tension or hostility. And it all took place right under the baseball field, where a Swattie was stepping up to bat to the tune of a guitar solo as people in the bleachers cheered. Just to drive in the point that many people just don’t care.

    I’m speaking from the point of view of only a single sport. I’m sure others – tennis, golf, volleyball, etc. – get ignored in different ways. And I’m sure that no matter which team I picked examples from, someone would try to come up with counterexamples or stats in a frankly callous attempt at a rebuttal telling me how I’m wrong for feeling like that. But the point I’m making here stands all the same, because my point comes from the heart – and more hearts than mine alone. Many of us, spread across a number of Group 2 teams, feel completely ignored, crushed at the bottom of a pile of jock culture.

    So to those continuing to press for evidence of the hierarchy which Dan’s eloquently describing here: It manifests itself in hidden ways, too. In hearts and minds, not just on social media. And you really can’t understand it until you feel it.

    • So you know if you slip while running it’s an accident? If we miss a shot it’s not on purpose, therefore if you’re running around the track during a practice we can’t control if a ball is going to fly onto the track, there are nets at the end but not all shots are taken at such an angle that they stop them. That being said, be more vigilant then, and once more, don’t talk down on us for something out of our control, by us missing a shot it’s not at all us saying you’re a lesser athlete, come on.

      • Your comment, “be more vigilant, […] and don’t talk down to us for something out of our control”, is the most dismissive thing I’ve ever heard. Your claim of dominance over the shared space in saying, “therefore if you’re running around the track during a [read ‘our’] practice”, is so disrespectful. If a result of your practice is a danger to those who have a right to the space just as much as you do, maybe you should practice at a different time? You may say that isn’t fair, but it’s not at all the track teams fault that your usage of the space poses potential harm, even if it is accidental.

    • For clarification, the men’s lacrosse team absolutely notices when balls end up on the track. Further, there is no lacrosse team in the NCAA who would not have this problem. For the record, we modify several of our drills to limit the interference on your practices. Nobody wants people to get hit. That’s an over dramatization and you know it.

      Im curious why you feel “ignored” and at the “bottom of the pile,” and why that feeling is being directed towards group 1? Group 1 would never band themselves together, only group 2 sees it this way. I’d be curious to see how much actual interaction you’ve had with group 1. Instead of saying you’re being ignored, have you tried talking with somebody in group 1? Instead of the monsters you try to paint them to be, you’d find they are Swarthmore nerds who like sports too.

      That’s one of the main points of this article at the end of the day: instead of pointing fingers and arguing about some meaningless hierarchy and victimhood, there clearly is a need for the athletics community to become closer and get along better. It starts not with whiny, “woe is me” comments on a student publication website, but genuine interaction.

      We all shower together, yet we rarely talk. Food for thought.

    • Doesn’t your issue with almost being hit by a lacrosse ball (a valid concern, mind you) have more to do with sharing space than actual behavior? Missing shots in lacrosse is part of the game. There’s no way any of them are purposefully aiming for you and I GUARANTEE you the same thing would be happening with the women’s team if you happened to be practicing at the same time as they were. Not to mention that tracks are set up like this at literally every school I’ve ever been to. Show me a standalone track without a football/soccer/lacrosse/field-hockey field in the middle of it and I’ll soften my words, but that point seems a little absurd, I have to say.

      As for the all-american, any and all all-americans named pretty much get the same coverage. MAYBE things differ if an external source like the Philly Enquirer writes a piece on them as was the case with some baseball and men’s basketball players, but that’s just a retweet! How much is there to write about setting a record in track and field? Maybe this is my ignorance on the sport, but a pitcher or a guard is involved in a more complex game with more strategy involved (NOTE- I do not mean more skill. What y’all do out there is amazing to me and I’d never have that endurance or strength). The suspense in track and field is jsut so different from a baseball or basketball or even lacrosse game, and there are so many more moving parts it seems like that they lend themselves significantly more to press articles.

      @SwatAthletics posts the same number of posts whenever someone has a game/meet, they just appear in the Instagram stories. Look on the one from today, and THERE YOU ARE! Low and behold. I will admit that I definitely agree that teams who win deserve equal coverage- if a team wins, post on Instagram and write a tweet that takes two seconds. Note as well that @SwatAthetics retweets a lot from individual team accounts, and so the proportion may be thrown off because some teams are more active than others. For example, men’s basketball tweets significantly more than softball whose account is borderline inactive.

      I will reiterate again that there are two people running the show who are at this school from dawn til dusk practically every day of the week putting up what we all see- the live stream broadcasts, score and record keeping, social media presence, writing articles, making highlight reels (that’s actually just done by one of them), etc. etc. I’d like to see anyone here ripping the AC office apart try doing what they do for just two days and then get back to me about how easy it is to cover every sport equally and check your biases when you’re under that much cognitive load. Give me a break!

      • Well said. I would like to ask the author of this article, have you ever worked an athletic event or in the athletic department? I have worked as a ball runner in soccer/volleyball, scoreboard operator in soccer, statistician in field hockey/soccer/lacrosse/basketball, an equipment runner at track meets, video camera operator, and an office assistant for athletic communications. Until you see up close how hard it is to keep this department running day to day, I have trouble understanding how you can place blame like you do in this article. The author owes an apology to Brandon, Kyle, and all who work hard every day to make it possible for athletes to compete at Swarthmore.

  9. I just wanted to point out that Kyle in the athletic communications office was hired after last volleyball season and since he runs most of the social media, he was able to produce a lot more content for baseball and basketball during their runs, particularly baseball because they were the only team still playing. I don’t think it’s fair to call out those guys for doing a great job the past few semesters since he’s been hired because they can accomplish more with two heads than one.

    • Agreed. I would like to ask the author, Dan, did you reach out to Brandon & Kyle with any questions about their system for deciding when/why to post about different teams? As a former student worker of the athletic communications office, I can tell you that Brandon and Kyle work extremely hard. They care about every athlete and I wouldn’t put it on their shoulders to change the entire American culture of how different sports are perceived. If anyone feels slighted by their treatment as an athlete, please don’t pin it on Brandon and Kyle if you’ve never talked to them or so much as acknowledged their hard work. In addition to producing all of the content that we see on the website and social media, these two organize all the student workers, which is no easy feat!! Students are quicker to sign up to photograph the soccer or basketball games, so naturally there would be more photos of those games than of track meets. When some sports have one home competition a week and others never compete on campus, OF COURSE athletic communications will have more photos of them. Campus social dynamics are another issue entirely, unrelated to the social media presence of the athletics department.

  10. This is ridiculous.

    There is a very good reason why certain sports, in your words “Group 2,” don’t receive the same attention that “Group 1” does: very, very few people grew up watching *insert Group 2 sport here* on TV, whereas sports like lacrosse, baseball, and basketball have deep cultural roots all over the nation. Think very hard about the last time you turned on ESPN and saw field hockey on? Basketball got so much attention for getting second because people in general care about basketball. Does this mean that the other sports aren’t important? Of course not. It just means that there are certain cultural norms regarding sports that crossover into collegiate life. They still deserve the same amount of media coverage as all the other sports, but don’t get pissed off if it’s slightly lopsided in favor of more popular sports. If we still had a football team, it might also receive Group 1 attention because FOOTBALL IS INGRAINED INTO AMERICAN CULTURE. It may suck for those who play Group 2 sports, and certainly doesn’t make those sports any less “valid” or “worthy” of praise, it just means that you can’t expect people to have the same perception of sports that don’t have cultural relevance as those that do. Take American football again, and put it into context of a European nation. Soccer would DOMINATE that sport. Why? Because people there care about soccer: who the hell grew up in France watching a Parisian football team? No one. Who grew up in France watching a soccer club? A whole lotta people. Group 1 doesn’t know Group 2’s W’s and L’s NOT because they’re Group 1 and don’t give a shit; they don’t know the W’s and L’s because hardly anyone does and because people don’t want to watch a field hockey game as much as they want to watch a basketball game. I’d love to ask Group 2 athletes what the scores of other Group 2 sports were or the last time they went to a different Group 2 match/game/competition.

    “The types of students that are in Group One are hard to miss around campus. They are largely very outgoing, dominate party spaces — due to the fraternities being largely composed of lacrosse and baseball players — and organize in a manner that if you see one of them, another one or multiple are not far behind.” I feel as though your intentions in writing this article are made very clear by this statement. Why even mention this unless there is a social component to this complaint? Don’t try to cloud the real intention of this article: it’s a hit piece on Group 1 sports and athletes.

    I suggest you re-think the conclusions you draw from the evidence. The same way that a rugby league in America wouldn’t draw nearly as much attention as a the NFL would, Group 2 doesn’t and won’t draw the same attention as Group 1.

  11. Funny how things can become so correlated when you get to choose the variables. Funnier yet, they become more correlated when your evidence is largely anecdote and speculation, the plural of which is not data.

    Are there discrepancies in how each team is covered? Certainly. Is it willful neglect by the two whole people that run our social media? No.
    Are some teams more dominant in social spaces? Definitely. Do many of those teams also have proportionally more people by virtue of the rules of their sports? Yes.

    The author certainly raises some valid points about sport culture in Swarthmore and the country. However, I find the division of the athletic program to be arbitrary and inaccurate. Media coverage, social presence, and sport culture are issues in and of themselves, but to artificially caste athletics into the haves and have-nots with those as a basis unjustly demonizes the department staff, teams, and the individuals therein.

  12. Full disclosure, I go to a larger D1 school whose men’s basketball team may be in the final four, but close friend of mine is a “group 1” athlete at Swat. Is this response largely anecdotal and really just the opinion of a total outsider? Yeah, pretty much, but maybe just something to consider.

    I’m a former member of my school’s rowing team. Based on this article you might as well consider rowing a “group 3” sport for the sad amount of attention and media coverage the team receives. I’d bet half of my school is either unaware of the rowing team completely, or assumes it’s only a club team. This being said, our women’s rowing team is consistently one of the best teams in the country and has produced olympians and elite level rowers with several world champions currently on the team. Our women’s rowing team had a tiny locker room for 60+ girls that had the football team’s old lockers, meanwhile the basketball team had nap pods and a giant lounge. Obviously, there are a lot of inequalities here when it comes to media attention and school support that do not correlate to a team’s success.

    As for the disparity in attendance and attention, some sports are just simply more fun to watch. I was a competitive swimmer for years, but given the choice I’d much rather go to a soccer game than a swim meet. I think rowing is a really incredible sport, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a little more recognition, but I won’t lie, it’s not really that exciting to watch. I love running, but if you think I really want to watch a cross country race for fun, I probably would only be there if I had a close friend competing.

    I’m not going to deny that you may feel neglected or like a bit of an outsider in the athletics world, I’ve been there. However, instead of expecting all of the “group 1” teams to just change their ways, you need to initiate these changes for yourself. If you want parties thrown for these “group 2” teams, throw them. Talk to the athletics department. Make new friends, even if it is intimidating. I’d also be willing to bet that those “group 1” athletes aren’t as mean and exclusive as they seem. Even I, a lowly rower, was able to become friends with plenty of people on the “group 1” teams at my school.

    If you’re playing college sports for the glory and the recognition, I personally think you’re there for the wrong reasons. You should be playing college sports because it’s something you love and want to do. Is being recognized nice? Of course, but don’t vilify “group 1” teams for supporting their own friends. You’re all Swat student-athletes, and if you want things to feel more equitable and unified, that starts with you.

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