Thursday, May 24, 2007

Religion and the Ivies

Don't Worry, I'm not becoming a closet Bulldog fan! (I couldn't make this picture any smaller, by the way)

I realize this is a little off-topic, and it does focus on a group of Yale players, but you have to at least be a little impressed with these three young men who have kept their religious devotion and certainly expanded it over the years. And one of the guests, Dan Miller, is the brother of rising Columbia sophomore linebacker Lou Miller, (a nice still pic of the two of them is on the feed of the show I mention below at about 45:19 into the show).

The Yale players were featured on this show and they discussed what it's like to be a devout Catholic athlete at an Ivy League school. I got a kick out it when they read my email question at about 48 minutes in and it coaxed a smile out from Stephen Schmalhofer, who I've emailed back and forth with a few times.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I come from a pretty religious family myself. My father was a pulpit Rabbi for 23 years before turning to teaching ethics, philosophy and religion full-time as an academic. I went to private Jewish schools and Yeshivas all the way through 12th grade and generally benefitted from that. I have found that the people not from my exact background that I have the most in common with are Catholic school graduates, hands down. The upbringing is eerily similar. I'm not as religious as the rest of my family anymore by a long shot, but let's just say I haven't forgotten most of what I learned in school.

And while I support everyone's right to practice whatever faith or lack thereof on or off-campus, the orthodox hostility with which some secularists approach people of all faiths on many Ivy campuses is just as bad as the hostility non-believing people face in other parts of this country. That said, if you're religious and you insist on taking a course on comparative religion or something like that, you're asking to be challenged and you should be ready for some tough lectures. The challenge should do you some good, as long as you don't have a professor yelling at you for no reason.

I think everyone just needs to chill out when it comes to religion on campus. I mean if you really think allowing someone to put up a Christmas display on College Walk is going to lead to a violent Crusade, get a grip on yourself. It ain't gonna happen. And if you want to have a "free condom" week, be ready to allow, and be respectful of, a "choose life" week too. Free speech means free speech, and if you can't deal with it, or if you'd rather rush the stage than allow others to talk, I suggest you get a refund for the $40k you spent on tuition and try something other than college. END DISCLOSURE

What Does this Mean for Football?

It would be nice if we could take the many, many solid recruits from Catholic schools across the country, look them and their parents in the eye, and tell them there is no reason to worry about hostility to their Catholic faith on any Ivy League campus. I suspect some schools are better than others, and more often than not the normal non-politico students are extremely tolerant and just warmly curious, but I'm not sure we can say that today about Columbia, Yale or any place else. The average Ivy football player is likely to be more religious and politically conservative than his professors and fellow students. I just want them to feel comfortable, especially since many of them will be unfairly attacked for being athletes too. I wonder how many good recruits we've lost over the years because of this.

So let's congratulate guys like Schmalhofer and be ready to be extremely courteous and friendly to him after the Bulldogs lose to us at Wien Stadium on October 27th!


At Fri May 25, 04:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well said, Jake. And, of course, the Lions have another incentive for beating Yale, namely the cheap TD run called by Yale's "no-class" coach at the end of last season's game. Religion apart, I would expect the Columbia team to be sky-high for the Yale game.

At Fri May 25, 05:53:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Stephen said...

Interesting post, Jake.

Although the most impressive person on the show was Mary Hollis Yale '06 via email.

As noted on the show, Mary came to Yale from New Orleans with the intention of becoming a spy with the CIA. But instead she answered the call to become a Catholic religious sister- a Sister of Life. She receives her habit soon. Poverty, obedience, chastity- three values not often respected on Ivy campuses.

It might not have been clear on the show- but all 3 of us went to Catholic high schools- relevant to your previous post on Catholic school alumni in Ivy fball.

At Fri May 25, 07:21:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


Yes, the tack-on TD had to be the lowest point of the year for me last season. We must put up a better fight this time around.


Yes, Mary's story is fascinating, thanks for filling us in. And thanks for participating... I like to be able to discuss a whole host, (no pun intended), of issues here as long as they stay related to the Ivy football and academic experience. You have helped us do that.

At Sat May 26, 05:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plus McLeod's low class somesault; Jack had better clean up his low class act or he will take over from Bags as the most hated coach in the league. When Penn plays Yale it would be nice if both teams could lose

At Sat May 26, 09:23:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

McLoed's antics left a sour taste in my mouth too. But, at least he has the talent to back his schtick up. That would make shutting him down this season even more satisfying.

At Wed May 30, 10:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog! I did not connect you from the Ivy message board comments but now do. Your comments have now earned alot more respect! God Bless!

At Wed May 30, 08:32:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Thanks! I guess I need some better PR so people know that I am the same guy from the VOY board.


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