January 28, 2008
‘Athletics for all’ still the goal
Tim Downes is Clyde Partin Sr. Director of Athletics and Recreation.
The local Atlanta paper once had this to say about Emory’s place in the world of intercollegiate athletics:
“The money being spent on major intercollegiate programs is phenomenal — maybe astronomical would be a better word. Of course, there’s a move now in the National Collegiate Athletic Association to try and get things back into perspective.
The NCAA is holding a special meeting later this year to reorganize… King football was once able to subsidize other sports on campus, but this is increasingly difficult to do as profits are just no longer there. So maybe it might behoove some of the larger institutions to take time out from its busy schedule and take a look at the Emory campus. Probably the only institutions in America that even come close to Emory’s concept of athletics is the Ivy League… Sports at Emory is viewed as part of the general educational program for all students and not as something simply to be looked at while the experts do it.”
The quotes from this article were published in 1973, but they couldn’t be more appropriate today. Astronomical costs, reorganizing the NCAA, and a general discontent with the direction of college athletics are all topics that continue to challenge us in higher education. And through it all, Emory has maintained its status as “An Island in the Sea of Sports,” as the 1973 article in the Atlanta Journal was titled.
Granted, some things have changed in the last 35 years, with the most notable being the addition of intercollegiate athletics at the University in the 1980s when Emory found a group of like-minded, academically prominent institutions — who later formed the University Athletic Association, a conference of selective research universities — who would be similarly committed to athletics in a manner consistent with our longstanding philosophy.
And even with the addition of varsity sports, the Emory community has continued to support the notion imparted by Clyde “Doc” Partin Sr., longtime chair of the Department of Athletics, in his book “Athletics for All: The History of Sports at Emory.”
Last year more than 550 students participated in our 20 sponsored club sports and we had more than 4,000 in the Emory community involved in intramurals; since 2000, the University has produced 43 NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipients, the highest total of any school in the nation (Stanford University is No. 2 with 36); and physical education has remained an important educational component (for as Doc was quoted in the 1973 article, “the elementary and secondary schools are not providing the necessary program for the students”).
Athletics at Division III institutions should be a personal experience and it’s the responsibility of the Department of Athletics and Recreation to carry on the legacy of Doc Partin and provide a program that embraces “athletics for all.” So come out to see your hall mate playing basketball against Wash U., sign up for that Tai Chi P.E. class, dust off your cleats and join the Ultimate Frisbee club, play in a softball intramural league, or take advantage of the wonderful facilities in WoodPEC for a workout. We’re looking forward to seeing you.