The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Solving the athlete, non-athlete divide

“We can never go nowhere unless we share with each other,” said Tupac Shakur in his song “Changes.” “We gotta start makin’ changes. Learn to see me as a brother ‘stead of two distant strangers.”

Guilford’s student body should take Shakur’s advice in dealing with the athlete/non-athlete student divide on campus.

A Principled Problem Solving group is working on solving this divide. The group met in a forum with students on Wednesday, April 17, to discuss the issue. This is not the first time that PPS has dealt with this issue over the years.

“Last year, there was another PPS group who also worked on the athlete/non-athlete divide,” said sophomore PPS scholar Byron Hamilton. “They took a survey and found that a majority of the students agreed or strongly agreed that there is athlete/non-athlete divide on Guilford’s campus.”

This year’s PPS group plans to create events and awards that will hopefully create relationships between the non-athletes and athletes.

“We’re creating a pilot program where essentially an athletic team would sponsor a non-athlete club that would (in turn) sponsor the athletic team,” said Hamilton. “It’s a cosponsor where the athletes would go to x number of events, and the non-athlete club would go to a number of events.

“We would also like for four or five members of each to share a meal together where they can get to know each other and have a personal relationship.”

At the forum, students talked about these ideas and other general feelings on the issue. Some students believe that the divide occurs simply because athletes have similar interests.

“I think the divide occurs because of social habits,” said senior former track runner Rashon Miller. “What do you spend your time doing? What you do with your free time defines whom you hang out with at Guilford. It’s up to that person and whether that person is willing to go out of their comfort zone.”

Although some students believe this issue is legitimate, many believe that the athlete/non-athlete divide is overstated and that there are divides spread across campus.

“It’s an umbrella term for all the divides that we have on campus,” said junior PPS leader Jamie Rodgers. “It’s just easier to look at people with the same type of gear on and group them, instead of looking at them individually.”

A large problem with the divide is students’ perceptions. Some students believe that athletes receive preferential treatment in academics.

“As an athlete, I’d say we don’t,” said sophomore tennis player Blake Brown. “We’re not getting paid to do this. It’s a volunteer effort, and many times we aren’t even excused from class for going on our matches. I think it’s more of a perception.”

Recruitment might also contribute to the athlete/non-athlete divide.

“There is a divide, and it is hard to diminish,” said junior PPS Scholar Ryan Phillips, former basketball player. “It stems from recruiting. Sometimes things are left out from what Guilford’s experience is really like.”

Head Women’s Softball Coach Dennis Shores works at breaking the divide with inclusive campus events.

“I got the softball team to start Relay for Life on campus to pull all different areas and types of people on campus to work for a great cause,” said Shores.

The athlete/non-athlete divide is a widely discussed issue at Guilford, but it is a positive sign that the community is actively working to solve it.

The PPS group will work at solving the issue with a Dick Dyer award.

“We want to make a Dick Dyer award for the best collaboration between a sports team and a non-sports team,” said Rodgers. “We’re hoping that will motivate others to do the same.”

Although PPS is committed to solving the issue, it may not be enough. The forum did not attract more than a couple of students, and many believe the issue will not be resolved.

“I honestly think the athlete/non-athlete divide will never end,” said senior Howard Hurt. “Students can acknowledge the divide all they want, but the PPS groups are the only ones actually committed to the cause.”

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