A college sized chasm

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Preface

Muhlenberg College consists of a variety of personalities and identities. Naturally, from this diverse set of backgrounds, friend groups will develop around common interests to provide social outlets that students can lean on through the trials of college. Athletes and non-athletes and the constructed divide between the two groups dominates many Muhlenberg students’ understanding of social hierarchy at Muhlenberg. In Media & Communication Lecturer Sara Vigneri’s class, entitled Sports Journalism, a group of five students set out to understand this apparent chasm through a variety of perspectives. The Sports Editorial Board at The Muhlenberg Weekly hopes to clarify that these boundaries are constructed by Muhlenberg students and are porous walls that can be breached by those who look past social expectations. Separately, these articles perceive the issue as black and white opinions. As a collective, they function as a nuanced analysis of the Muhlenberg microcosm. The Weekly will be releasing each article separately with the hope that the Muhlenberg population will digest and reflect on their own opinions, remembering that the five articles function best as a collective of diverse thinking.

The non-athlete perspective

When the question “do you see a divide between athletes and non-athletes on campus?” is asked, everyone’s face turns blank, as if there is so much to say but they lack the words to explain it. An outsider looking in on the Muhlenberg College campus may observe a large divide between varsity student-athletes and non-athletes. 

“I feel like you can definitely tell who the athletes are because they are always grouped together,” said Paola Navarro ’25, a sprinter on the Track and Field team. Varsity college athletes automatically spend at least a few hours a day with teammates, so naturally, they easily connect with teammates because of the sport they have in common.

“I definitely do see a divide because of the media, and the environment we are in. For example, theatre majors see so much media that portray them [as] separate from athletes,” said an artist, Maggie Guinan ‘25. In today’s world, social media is a big part of people’s lives. Research on media use estimates that Americans spend between 10 and 12 hours a day using some form of media. Whether we like it or not, we are influenced by it. 

Another reason that non-athletes say there seems to be a divide is the stereotype that athletes don’t accept queer and LGBTQ+ culture as much as other groups of people. “A lot of queer and LGBTQ culture is embedded in theatre culture and because of that it is automatically an assumption that LGBTQ [culture] and sports cannot be collided,” said Guinan. 

Guinan mentioned the small number of LGBTQ+ people in the Olympics, and acknowledged that there is some controversy there. She hopes that “with newer generations there will be change, less judgment and more education on how stereotypes are not accurate.”

Club sports play an interesting role in this controversy as well. For example, many athletes don’t think that the ultimate frisbee team is a sport. While it may not be a varsity sport they still need a place to practice and compete. “We still need to practice, we feel disrespected sometimes… There is not much we can do about it until we are given more money and more time” said Gabe

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