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Historical perspective on the role of sports (particularly football) at Harvard

DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1059 replies7 threads Senior Member
This has been debated for over 100 years: https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2018/09/football-origins-america
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Replies to: Historical perspective on the role of sports (particularly football) at Harvard

  • RightCoasterRightCoaster 2938 replies4 threads Senior Member
    I think ( I might be mistaken) that the oldest sporing event in college is actually a track meet between Harvard and Yale. That event has a lot of history behind it. Both Harvard and Yale take their sports very seriously. I believe Harvard has the highest percentage of athletes on their campus than any other school.

    While the two teams are track and field rivals, they also combine their teams every 2 years and form an all star group of sorts that travels overseas and competes against Oxford.
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    I think ( I might be mistaken) that the oldest sporing event in college is actually a track meet between Harvard and Yale. That event has a lot of history behind it.
    It's actually the Harvard-Yale Regatta, a rowing race that started in 1852.

    In terms of ball sports, the first intercollegiate game is thought to be Williams-Amherst baseball in 1859 (although many of the rules were different from modern baseball). The first college football game is usually considered to be Princeton-Rutgers in 1869 (although many early "football" games may have been more like soccer or rugby than like modern football).
    edited August 2018
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  • RightCoasterRightCoaster 2938 replies4 threads Senior Member
    Yeah you may be right, but the 1st track meet wasn't that far off. I know it's a very long term rivalry. I'll try to find out when the 1st track meet was. It was a long time ago. I forget who won.

    BTW, I've been inside both Yale and Harvard stadium this summer and they are both being refurbished. So they still care about that football game.
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  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1059 replies7 threads Senior Member
    As a result of the refurbishment of Harvard Stadium, this year’s edition of The Game (Harvard-Yale) will be played, for the first time, at Fenway Park, a very odd place to watch football. Very limited tailgating, both teams lined up on one side separated by a curtain, and spectators on top of the Green Monstah...
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    The 150th meeting of The Rivalry (Lehigh-Lafayette) in 2014 was played in Yankee Stadium, which was also odd, but not quite as awkward for football as Fenway. At least the teams can go on different sides.
    edited August 2018
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  • Data10Data10 3491 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    I believe Harvard has the highest percentage of athletes on their campus than any other school.
    The colleges with the largest percentage of athletes tend to have smaller student bodies. In order to field the teams, a large portion of students need to be athletes. Some specific numbers are below, based on Department of Education totals. Instead of percentage of athletes, Harvard likely leads in number of different Div I teams.

    Percent of Undergrads That Are Varsity Athletes
    Bates -- 46%
    Colby -- 46%
    Williams -- 46%
    ...
    Dartmouth -- 24%
    Yale -- 18%
    Harvard -- 17%
    edited August 2018
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    The colleges with the largest percentage of athletes tend to have smaller student bodies. In order to field the teams, a large portion of students need to be athletes.
    The top schools in this regard are probably D3 LACs, especially NESCACs, as noted above. But there are D1 LACs with 20+% varsity athletic participation too, like Davidson, Colgate, Bucknell, Lafayette, or Holy Cross.
    Instead of percentage of athletes, Harvard likely leads in number of different Div I teams.
    That's probably true, and the lead might be even greater considering that Harvard also fields varsity teams in non-NCAA sports. For example, Harvard has varsity teams in sports like sailing, squash, and men's rowing, which are not NCAA sports and therefore not technically "Division I".
    edited August 2018
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  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 5209 replies66 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2018
    And the question is why? Why is an institution like Harvard so focused on a large variety of athletic teams? When most people think of Harvard, they don't think "Sports" they think "Smart". Based on the lawsuit info, it's clear that being a recruited athlete is the a HUGE advantage for admission, more than any other. Do Harvard athletes go on to successful careers (athletic or otherwise) that ends up benefiting the school more than great academic minds do?

    I get why sports are huge at LACs in the middle of nowhere (not much to do!) But at Harvard?
    edited September 2018
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  • CenterCenter 2204 replies66 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2018
    @suzyQ7 Being a recruited athlete at Harvard is a big deal because not only do you have to be a great athlete but you also have to have academic chops that NO OTHER special population has to have. Every recruited athlete at every Ivy League school has to meet an Academic Index threshold that no other applicant has to meet. This is absolutely fact. Athletes at Ivy schools and other Division 1 programs end up as CEOs, hedge fund managers, captains of industry far more than non athletes. College athletes tend to be hard workers who can manage school and practice, they are leaders, and tend to be very successful.

    https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2017/02/28/letter-2-28
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bradley
    edited September 2018
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  • Data10Data10 3491 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2018
    Being a recruited athlete at Harvard is a big deal because not only do you have to be a great athlete but you also have to have academic chops that NO OTHER special population has to have. . Every recruited athlete at every Ivy League school has to meet an Academic Index threshold that no other applicant has to meet.
    In the lawsuit data, it was nearly impossible for non-athletes to be admitted with the minimum standard scale academic rating of 4. Non-athletes with a 4, had an admit rate of only 0.07%. However, the vast majority of recruited athlete applicants with an academic rating of 4 were admitted. The admit rate for athletes was approximately 1000x higher than non-athletes. ~1 in 7 recruited athletes had this minimum rating. Bending the usual admission requirements beyond nearly every other hook group like this has led to the rules about recruited athletes having to maintain minimum AI thresholds.

    The average AI of all athletes was 213.5 compared to 230 for non-athletes. The non-athlete AI would occur for applicants with a ~4.0 UW and ~750 per SAT I and SAT II section. The athlete average corresponds to GPA decreased to from ~4.0 to 3.0 or SAT I decreased from 1500 to 1180. If I assume this is 1 SD, then the lowest possible athlete admits could have GPA decreased from 4.0 to 1.6 or SAT I decreased from 1500 to 880. The athlete averages are higher than the vast majority of Div I schools that do not have AI rules, but it's still quite a bit lower than other hook groups.

    One of the admission sims removed all hooks preferences and instead gave a larger boost to applicants who were financially disadvantaged. In this model, Harvard's expert found that only 14 recruited athletes would still have been admitted. The other 93% of athletes in the class would have been rejected without their hook. This was a far larger decrease in portion admitted than occurred for any other analyzed hook group. While some athletes are academically qualified, there are also some with lower academic qualifications than nearly all other students.
    Athletes at Ivy schools and other Division 1 programs end up as CEOs, hedge fund managers, captains of industry far more than non athletes. College athletes tend to be hard workers who can manage school and practice, they are leaders, and tend to be very successful.
    Some do, and some do not. I attended a HYPSM school and was a walk-on athlete. I knew many recruited athletes. I'd consider many of them successful, but no more than occurred with non-athletes. None of them I knew fell in to the groups you mentioned -- "CEOs, hedge fund managers, captains of industry." It was my experience that athletes also had a notably lower rate of obtaining additional graduate or professional degrees, as well entering tech fields. However, athletes had a higher rate of careers emphasizing personal skills, such as consulting and sales. A significant portion also had careers that more related to their sport than their classes. Harvard's senior survey has found similar patterns. For example, ~1 in 4 Harvard athletes enters consulting, which is nearly twice the rate of non-athletes.
    edited September 2018
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  • CenterCenter 2204 replies66 threads Senior Member
    @Data10 you are completely missing my points: Why is anyone comparing a recruited athlete with a standard academic applicant? This is idiocy on the part of the statisticians OR purposeful..... If we all agree that admissions is holistic---right?---- and we all agree that there are various buckets of applicants ----right?----to fulfill institutional needs, then why compare one with the other? It is a completely disingenuous exercise.
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  • CALSmomCALSmom 740 replies8 threads Member
    edited September 2018
    RE: post #1 additional info

    “A biennial tradition, the Transatlantic Series, Oxford & Cambridge vs. Penn & Cornell and Harvard & Yale and other Ivy League Universities, is the world's oldest international fixture: it originated in 1894, and predating the modern Olympics.”

    https://cornellbigred.com/sports/2014/6/4/MTRACK_0604141911.aspx
    *to add, this summer the Cornell-Penn T&F team challenged Oxford-Cambridge in England. The Ivy delegation wore a special singlet to show their team unity “CP” instead of their own uniforms.

    RE: the Cornell vs Harvard hockey rivalry is huge and dates back to 1910

    https://ithacavoice.com/2015/01/history-epic-cornell-harvard-hockey-rivalry/
    edited September 2018
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6967 replies10 threads Senior Member
    The book Excellent Sheep addressed this A bit too. Not in the context of recruitment, but in terms of creating a comeraderie and "leadership " class out of its male, privileged students, many of whom were expected to assume senior positions in government and industry. It was part of what today might be called social and emotional learning!
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  • Data10Data10 3491 replies11 threads Senior Member
    you are completely missing my points: Why is anyone comparing a recruited athlete with a standard academic applicant?
    Your post stated, "you also have to have academic chops that NO OTHER special population has to have." If you look at the concluding sentence in each of the stat paragraphs, you'll see the stats led to comparing athletes to the other special populations, as you did, as did the post you replied to that started the tangent.
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  • CenterCenter 2204 replies66 threads Senior Member
    @Data10 sticking to what I said--the minimum academic index of 176 is applied only to athletes. Minimums apply to no other group. So yes recruited athletes may be lower than many others but they are still the only group with a minimum requirement. Why is that so complicated? I dont care about the admit rates--my point was why are you or anyone comparing any special bucket with pure academic applicants?
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  • skieuropeskieurope 42310 replies8428 threads Super Moderator
    edited September 2018
    MODERATOR'S NOTE:
    While AI/admissions/lawsuit might be tangentially on topic, the fact that there are open threads where those topics are being discussed by many of the members on this thread makes me believe debating those subjects is pushing us down the rabbit hole. So I allowed each user to make a point and to make one response to a counterpoint. The rest, I've deleted. But really, let's try to keep comments focused on the culture of sports.
    edited September 2018
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  • CALSmomCALSmom 740 replies8 threads Member
    So to tie it back to OP’s post, why wouldn’t sports play an integral role at college (even the Ivies)? Our culture is sports obsessed and many collegiate athletes feed into pro leagues and develop into future Olympians. The four major sports leagues alone is a $70 billion market which says a lot about the role of sports in American culture.
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