By Mia Merrill, Sports Editor Last week, Skidmore students were asked to take a survey about sports culture and participation. The survey, which was available for six days and received seventy-one responses, tried to pinpoint why students do or do not want to join athletic teams at Skidmore. Does it have more to do with the sports themselves, or sports culture? Does this culture spread good vibes around campus, or does it alienate non-athletes? Are there students who think that we do not have a sports culture? Are there athletes who feel like a school-wide punch line to a bad Division III joke?
The survey tried to pack a lot into a little without losing the attention of its participants. Of course, it started by asking students if they would join a team, given the athletic abilities to compete, and found that 67 percent of participants said they would, while 33 percent said that they would not. Of the 67 percent who would join a team, 91 percent said that they like team sports. Of the 33 percent who would not join a team, 82 percent said that they like team sports.
The survey found that 52 percent of participants said that they believe our sports teams are competitive enough to win, while the remainder thought otherwise. Skidmore students, athletes and otherwise, might see this figure as uplifting, although the majority is slim. Regardless of your personal opinion on the nature of team sports or sports culture, there’s nothing wrong with some good old school spirit.
Although the survey did not specify the aspects of sports culture that would influence a student’s choice, 61 percent of participants said they do not like the sports culture at Skidmore. Much of that aversion can be explained by the 46 percent who feel that the sports teams here are exclusive and would not expand their social group. Thirty-nine39 percent of participants, though, do like sports culture here, and believe that the sports teams are inclusive and would expand their social group.
Participants were also asked to reflect on the sports houses, the foremost sources of off-campus parties. of participants think that the sports houses fill a social void on campus that fraternities and sororities would otherwise fill. Twenty-three percent of participants think that sports houses are inclusive, most likely because they often host open parties. An additional 28 percent of participants think that the sports houses are exclusive, a different question from whether or not the teams themselves promote exclusivity. Fifty-one percent of participants neglected to comment on the inclusive or exclusive nature of the sports houses. One participant commented that the sports houses “create weird group mentalities, and perpetuate potentially negative sexual health-related mindsets,” but added that if those mindsets could be adjusted, the houses would be “important to have.” Another participant said that the houses “propagate the binge drinking and hazing culture that the sports teams currently have.” One participant referred to the house occupants as “pigs.” Residents of the sports houses declined to comment for fear of framing their house in a bad light.
In some ways, the sports houses are no different than an apartment full of friends with similar activities or majors, “like any other group of friends that share an interest,” as one participant said. But it is clear from the comments in this survey that the opinion of the sports houses is not so cut-and-dry.
There are always more questions that could be asked about sports at Skidmore, but perhaps this survey will encourage more critical conversation about our sports culture.