Amherst students often discuss whether or not the athletes on this campus receive unfair advantages. The “athletes” are roped together as one group of people. However, no one ever talks about how some teams are treated far differently than others. I could conduct a meta-analysis and go through the perks that each and every team receives—but no one would actually read that.
In order to point out the disparity between teams I would like to put a spotlight on the tennis teams. Most teams at Amherst receive what could be considered the basics: a locker room, laundry service for their practice gear, and buses to away games. But wait a minute—the tennis teams do not have any of those amenities. They do not have a locker room—no place to gather as a team to mentally prepare and change for practice. They’re forced to wash their own practice gear which is not just an annoyance, but adds up in costs. If you are playing a sport and have practice or a game 6 out of the 7 days a week—you have double the amount of laundry as someone not working out that often. The lack of buses is a budget issue—the tennis team travels in small numbers so they are not allotted buses. They also need vans because they often practice off campus—because of the lack of facilities at Amherst they practice at Hampshire and have to play some of their matches at a club in Springfield.
The Coolidge Cage is a low quality multi-purpose room that the tennis team has to often use when the weather is too poor for them to practice outside. And let’s face it that is a majority of the school year. The Coolidge Cage is also shared by track and field, baseball, softball and men’s and women’s lacrosse during the wintery “spring sport” seasons. If there were a new facility built specifically for tennis—that would be roughly 4 hours each weekday that the Coolidge Cage could be used for the general public. There could be more opportunities for IM sports or non-athletes who just want to play pick-up with their friends. There would be a trickle-down effect and it would not only benefit the sports teams.
Some think that none of the athletes should have access to a locker room or laundry service—but, it’s too late for the school to take away privileges from some teams in order to make them even with other teams. There are also many who say that all teams should not be treated equally, but rather more winning teams deserve special treatment. But this does not explain a thing for tennis. The men’s tennis team won the NCAA National Championship in 2014 and 2011. They were also NESCAC Champions in 1990, 1991, 1992, 2011, 2012 and 2014. The women’s team has also won a National Championship! They are decorated athletes that represent our school with pride.
Maybe as the school builds extensive new dorms they should think about a few improvements to the athletic facilities. It would help more than just the tennis team.