A quick look down the roster of some of the Radcliffe sports teams will tell you that something unusual is happening to women's sports at Harvard. Radcliffe basketball--only two upperclasswomen. Senior Sue Williams and junior captain Katherine Fulton; swimming--a 21 women team of which only two were upperclasswomen, senior captain Jane Hendricks and junior Sue Schwartz; field hockey--only three upper class members, senior captain Ann Dupuis, senior Karen Lindsley and junior captain-elect Lucy Wood, squash three of the first seven squashers were freshwomen.
Where have all the older players gone? Does junior year bring arthritis of a bad back or varicose veins? It seems almost as if the player that survives through sheer endurance is made captain by virtue of her perserverance.
Well, maybe these "older" women can sense they aren't needed--or wanted. In the past couple of years, due to greatly increased funding, the efficient administration of 60 Boylston, and, perhaps most importantly, an active campaign by the admissions office to recruit and admit talented women athletes, the country club swimmer or girl's school hockey player has given way to the achievement oriented athlete--the female jock.
Gone are the elderly matron sort of coaches that politely prodded their charges with the kind of encouragement common to all kindergarten teachers. They have been replaced by young, professional coaches who know how to produce results and bring home the wins.
Now, we all appreciate results, don't we? Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC play great football and we love to watch and we all love a winner and who really cares what happens to all those big dopes that beat the hell out of each other and tear up their knees and never learn to read past the sixth grade level. We don't go to class either, right? Who's number one?
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a murky reputation going back years, is in the NCAA basketball semi-finals. Poor high school kids are offered cars, money and who knows what to attend Got-To-Win-The-Championship U. Of course the athletes deserve all they can get for they officially get so very little in return for their tireless efforts, but where does it leave them if they don't learn anything and they don't make the pros. But we all know it's rotten and there's nothing we can do to change it, right? The championship tourney will be great and we'll have the tube on and a beer in hand and go Marquette.
Change will come ever so slow in men's sports for the sheer weight of inertia is overwhelming. But women's sports are hopefully still in a formative stage and will be responsive to insightful and intelligent leadership.
The past 75 years of men's intercollegiate sports have provided a pattern of development to a recently emerging organization of women's athletics. Hopefully those who will guide this movement will not simply accept the values behind men's athletics without questioning them. Hopefully, in a quest for equality, they will not overload a precious opportunity to find a different, better way.
Perhaps fairly soon we will see some college be put on suspension by the NCAA for a recruiting violation involving a woman. And a semiprofessional class of woman athletes will appear, similar to the great majority of men on athletic scholarship. Perhaps, but I hope not.
Some of those "older" Radcliffe athletes who were squeezed out by the new wave have complained that it's not like it used to be. Maybe they have a right to complain.
But we all like results, don't we?