Letter to the Editor

Scott Hunter ’64, who has a Masters of Theology and Masters of Rehabilitation, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling, writes regarding athletics and substance abuse both in his personal life and at the College.

When I saw the headline “The Elephant in the Room” in the Letters to the Editor in the Feb. 13 edition of The Amherst Student, I was looking forward to reading about Alcohol and Substance Abuse on the Amherst Campus. In the parlance of substance abuse counseling, the elephant in the room refers to the denial of the devastating effects of alcohol and substance abuse in the personal life of the individual. I was surprised to read that the elephant in the living room of Professor Dumm is athletics. I will admit that I have no academic studies to back up my opinion. I will also admit that I am an alumnus and a fan of sports at the College. I appreciate this opportunity in the open forum of Letters to the Editor to express my thoughts.

When I relate my experience as an undergraduate at Amherst College, I joking say that Amherst College taught me to think and drink. In fact, the only time I was sober for any length of time at Amherst was the 10 weeks I was on the freshman football team. The other 90 percent of the my college career was spent in an alcoholic haze. I am grateful that I was taught the meaning of “no” by my parents and was able to avoid any serious sexual indiscretions while in that haze. At 40 years of age, I fulfilled my lifetime requirement for the use and abuse of alcohol and mind-altering substances. In my forties through my early sixties with a clear mind, I discovered athletics and the endorphins that strenuous exercise produce as an alternative to the false endorphins that alcohol and mind-altering substances produce. Athletics has been a very positive experience in my life. My first marathon gave me confidence. My first Boston Marathon gave me self-esteem. My first finish in a 100-mile race me faith that I could do anything. What athletics has given me is immeasurable.

Wishing to avoid artificial knees in my old age, I have endured my running career. I have supplanted that career by becoming a fan of Amherst athletics. I consider myself friends with a majority of the athletic department. There is no greater group of people than those whom Athletic Director Suzanne Coffey has assembled. They are dedicated teachers in their fields. They have committed their lives, as have the professors at the College, to raise responsible, intelligent and healthy adults. The student-athletes I have met, conversed with and become friends with make me proud that I am part of the tradition of Amherst College. Their involvement in the LEADS programs and the Center for Community Engagement teaches them to be responsible representatives in the larger community. I am sure that student athletes at Amherst College are very similar to the rest of the student body.

I would certainly enjoy spending any amount of time with Professor Dumm and anyone else in the Amherst College community discussing our respective elephants, athletics and alcohol and substance abuse, and their respective relationships to serious sexual indiscretions.