From the Editor

Correcting the record: sports and Batman

“Yale … will never be a national power in the most popular U.S. sports.” 
—from a question put to Yale president Richard Levin ’74PhD by Kathrin Day Lassila ’81 in “The Evolution of Yale Sports” (interview), Yale Alumni Magazine, September/October 2010
“The men’s hockey team was ranked number one in the nation for eight weeks this winter. The Bulldogs have become a national power.” 
—subtitle of “Ice Age” (cover story), Yale Alumni Magazine, May/June 2011

On the matter of Yale’s standing in the big national sports, your alumni magazine editor is humbly, but happily, eating crow. For the past three years, and this year most of all, the men’s hockey team has excelled in a world where most schools—unlike Yale—recruit and reward outstanding student-athletes with scholarships. For a team to be ranked number one in a major national sport without that monetary advantage is a startling triumph of effort over economics.

Because Yale and the rest of the Ivies don’t give athletic scholarships, they’ve been spared the growth of the giant sports operations that have warped the academic missions of many other schools. The Ivies have no coaches making multimillion-dollar salaries, no endorsement deals, no corruption scandals in recruitment or grading. Above all, their athletes are students, here to learn and to graduate. They’re not preprofessionals who see college classes as a bureaucratic inconvenience.

I once heard an alumnus of a school that’s almost always a contender at the top levels say he had never imagined their athletes would stop bothering with degrees. Their teams are full of hired guns now, temporary students who don’t belong to the school the way he does or real students do. It pains him. But switch to an Ivy-style program? Never, he said. Out of the question.

So bravo to the Ivies for making their historic 1954 decision against scholarships, and sticking with it. Bravo to all the varsity athletes at Yale—from the fencers and squash players, whose sports have never much interested ESPN, to the basketball and football players, who live with unfair comparisons because their sports own the national spotlight. And bravo to men’s hockey coach Keith Allain ’80 and his entire team, for succeeding against huge odds.

Batman is a different case. The record has already been corrected (“Holy Eli, Batman!” March/April). Sal Amendola, author and artist of the 1974 “Night of the Stalker” comic-book story in which Bruce Wayne’s Yale law diploma appears, was thrilled that his long-ago contribution to Batman’s c.v. and Yale’s alumni body had been discovered and celebrated. He has donated the final page of “Night of the Stalker”—with Batman’s diploma on it—to be preserved in Yale’s archives. “In a manila envelope in a portfolio in a closet in my house,” he wrote, “the few pages of this story that I still have aren’t doing anyone any good. In the possession of Yale/[its] alumni, that specific page for its specific reason now has a chance at a longer legacy, however small.”

Thank you, Sal, once again.  

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