The following excerpts are from an article written by current UW president Mark Emmert in the Seattle Times last year:
Americans' passion for sports is far from unique. Many nations share our love of athletic competition. What is unique about America is the extent to which we have linked sports to our universities. Only in America are intercollegiate athletics a national obsession.
In earlier times, college athletics were predominantly a way for students to continue in sports they played in high school. Athletics also became a vehicle to nurture school spirit, develop a sense of community and keep alumni connected to their alma maters…
Since college sports attract a disproportionate share of publicity and stir such strong emotions, it is critical that we leaders of universities make sure that our athletic programs are a reflection of the values of the university. Integrity, commitment, collegiality, merit, competitiveness: These must be the core values of the academy and the arena. When fans watch our teams play or listen to our coaches talk, these values should be clear for all to see. We must expect to compete successfully, and we must insist on doing so within the framework of our values.
The sense of fulfillment in reaching a goal to which you dedicate yourself is thrilling. To do so with teammates and colleagues working hard toward a common goal is even more thrilling. We aspire to have all our students develop the values and skills essential to reaching their goals…
College sports, when properly integrated into the university, can provide our student-athletes with just these skills and values. Sports can serve as a resilient glue that holds a far-flung community together. They can give us all great enjoyment. But, if unattended to, college sports can also carom out of control, causing significant damage to a university's reputation or, worse, putting student-athletes at risk to injury or injustice. Intercollegiate sports are a valued and valuable part of our traditions. But we must keep them in perspective, something often challenging to do.
This article was one of the most level-headed and intelligent writings I have ever read concerning modern sports. It amazes me that the man who wrote this allowed his athletic department to cut swimming, which above all sports aligns with his ideals so closely. How could a leader with this kind of vision allow UW to invest so heavily into the football arms race and allow the swimming team to fall victim to the shortcomings of the poor leadership of his subordinates? It gives me at least a glimmer of hope to know that the team is still fighting.
Just this morning I got the following email from UW supporters:
Hey Everyone, I have been in contact with Anttimo Bennett, the President of the Associated Students of the University of Washington. He as well as the student senate are really fired up about this and want to do everything in their power to get the program back. They are a very influential force and work with UW president Mark Emmert and the rest of the UW administration. ANYONE who cares about this is strongly encouraged to come attend the next student senate session which will be Tuesday, May 12 5:00PM at the Husky Union Building (HUB) on campus room 300. Antimmo said he wants as many people there as possible to make the biggest impact possible. Thanks for the support, keep fighting.
GO DAWGS! -Jon Banker, UW swim team
Also, in my google exploring, I have discovered that Whitney Hite might just be the classiest guy on the planet. In an article and a video interview he makes efforts to defend Athletic Director Scott Woodward against the cold and uncaring caricature that angry swimmers and the press have been publicizing since the “cut meeting” was held. I don’t think I could do that. I don’t think I have that much restraint. A great injustice has been done and needs to be corrected. Those responsible need to be held accountable.