Letters to the Editor

Give credit to marathoners

I won’t sink to argue whether running constitutes a sport-indeed, most people are naturally endowed with an ability to “put one foot in front of the other.” But after three hours and 14 minutes of covering 26.2 miles, followed by six hours in the Beth Israel Emergency Room and a week of struggling to either walk or eat, I feel compelled to address Justin Sharaf ’05’s misguided understanding of what it means to run a marathon.

No, running a marathon is not a sporting event in the traditional sense, as there are no winners, no losers, no scoreboard and no opponents. Rather, a marathon constitutes the highest form of a sporting event-it is a celebration of the human spirit and its triumph over the most daunting physical challenges. I have played all types of sports competitively since I was a child-soccer, basketball, tennis, field hockey, rugby, equestrian team, cross country and track-but never have I felt the essence of athletic competition so purely, intensely and fully as during the marathon.

I admit that even as I stood at the starting line last Sunday I had little idea of what a marathon really entailed. But by the last few miles as my compatriots and I limped, bled and ached through Central Park to the thunderous encouragement of the crowd, we all suddenly seemed soldiers on a battlefield, heroes in our own right, gloriously sharing in our suffering.

Anyone who demotes athletics to the level of the learned skill of striking a ball with a bat or launching a rubber ball through a hoop completely misunderstands the true meaning of sports-the ability of people to inspire each other through a combination of competition and camaraderie into physically achieving the seemingly impossible. Yes, P. Diddy was serious when he said the marathon was the craziest thing he ever did, crazy being the only word to describe 26 miles of the most intense combination of physical pain and emotional high most people will ever experience. Yes, even Snoop.

Martha Nelson ’04E

AAS correctly denies funds

AAS correctly denies funds

I was both amused and irritated by The Student’s report on the snowboarding club and their efforts to appeal $900 in denied expenses for three season tickets to a ski resort. By no stretch of the imagination could three season tickets for members of the club serve to allow “more people to take advantage of the club’s resources.” If the snowboarding club were really interested in extending its resources to the college community, I should at least know someone who was aware of the club’s existence before this request. As it was described, the snowboarding club seems like a transparent attempt for a few individuals to get the AAS to subsidize their personal activities. If I were in Paris Wallace ’04’s position, I would have done more than deny the funds; I would have rebuked the snowboarders as well.

The club sports system is a truly valuable one for those teams that genuinely want to get people involved in their sport. The sailing, rugby and crew teams have all been very good at both introducing new people to their sports and providing a competitive venue for talented members. These sports come with a hefty price tag, but are nonetheless worth it because they are available to anyone who wishes to participate.

Other sports, though, are much less open. It’s not that they will turn people away who seek them out; but they are much less accessible to people who aren’t absolutely dedicated to them. Clubs like snowboarding and mountain biking offer almost no publicity, effectually closing these experiences off to anyone who doesn’t actively seek them out. These sports need to get their act together and inform people of their existence before they are given money. The snowboarding club would be great, for instance, if it spent its $900 to send 20 people to a mountain for a day on a first come, first serve basis with no experience necessary.

Amherst College is, rightly, an institution of second chances. Nobody wants their life ruined by a stupid stunt they pulled in college. College is a last chance to learn valuable life lessons like, “you’re gonna get caught.” Simply getting caught is sufficient deterrence for students trying their gimmicks in real life. The problem, though, is that the lack of real consequences encourages students to abuse the system because there’s no reason not to. It leads to a sense of entitlement that already abounds here. Fleecing the College for 900 bucks, embezzling $12,000 from the newspaper and not cleaning up after a party are just a few examples. When they finally get caught, they complain to the appeals committee, or whine about The Hamster or rage against dorm damage. Suck it up, people. If you get caught, keep in mind that the consequences here are much, much lighter than they will be in four years. And don’t feel like just because you can abuse the system, you should. Think about it: if you get caught and you whine about it, people are going to call you on it. You’ll get reamed in The Hamster. The rest of us will resent you for being just the kind of person who reinforces the Amherst stereotype. None of us wants to be Fred from Scooby Doo.

Robert Cobbs ’06