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It's no secret that Brown lacks school spirit when it comes to athletics. If you want to see school spirit, you're better off going to an a cappella show than a football game. In the interest of full disclosure, I've never been to a football, basketball or softball game. I have been to a men's ice hockey game — but that was because I knew someone in the band, and they were skating that night. Every semester I resolve to go to at least one game for each sport, but by the time the game rolls around my resolve has become watery, and I'd rather read a book for class.

Out of my various friends, only one has ever expressed interest in going to a game with me on a Friday or Saturday night. Last week, when I announced that I was going for a game that night, I was told that the team sucks… but have fun! I know that I will feel a little bit awkward if I go by myself (although this is not as much of a deterrent as the first two).
More importantly, I can't imagine playing for a school whose students look down on me or don't respect the sacrifices I make. Athletes come to Brown for Brown. The University doesn't give out athletic scholarships, so athletes choose Brown for the education and prestige, just like you and me. Athletes will turn down scholarships at other universities to come to Brown, just like you and me. Some of us look down on athletes because we assume that they probably weren't as qualified to get into Brown as the rest of us were.

But why are we so haughty about getting into Brown? The folks in admission tell us that a sizable percentage of applicants to Brown could have succeeded academically. It's not like we were smarter than everyone else. Athletes, like us, got in because someone in admissions saw something special. Usually, we are proud of what makes us and our peers special — talents that we have for an academic discipline, environmental activism, dedication to community service, overcoming adversity to get into Brown, being an outstanding leader — why not add being an excellent swimmer or a star basketball player to the mix? You could argue for the importance of academic talents over non-academic talents, but then you're discounting the value of artistic endeavors like theater, music and visual art.

Also, we might disdain the athlete culture — the wild parties, the alcohol — but I hear the Manhattan crowd gets pretty wild too, so it's not like we can claim the moral high ground.
Most of us can't imagine what it would be like to be an athlete at this school. We moan about getting up for a 9:00 a.m. class, but some athletes are up at 5:30 a.m. Many of us fret about the amount of reading we have to do, but take for granted long Saturday and Sunday afternoons to get it done. Athletes don't have the kind of time that I have as a non-athlete. For example, one of my friends is going to Texas next weekend for a golf tournament, and she has to miss Monday's classes too.

If ours was a school where athletes and non-athletes mixed and socialized freely, we might hear some whining and complaining from athletes about this lack of time. However, I've never heard a peep from any of them. Either athletes are extraordinarily long-suffering people, or I don't hang out with any athletes long enough to hear them complain. In the two and a half years that I've been at Brown I have made one athlete friend, and that's because she reached out to me. Then again, I wouldn't call the athletes at Brown very approachable, friendly types. They tend to set themselves apart, as if the rest of us aren't cool enough for them. We're not, I know, but sometimes it is okay to pretend.

Just pencil it in right now — one game. Reach out to the athletes in your classes, even if they're always sitting with their friends. Make them feel like an important part of this school. It might make the difference between losing and scoring the winning point, if they feel like Brown, including its students, is worth fighting for.

Nida Abdulla '11.5 hopes to go to more sporting events in the future. She can be contacted at


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