Swarthmore Cuts Football Team
S W A R T H M O R E, Pa., Dec. 6 -- Swarthmore College’s football team haswon just five games in five years. At one point, it had thenation’s longest losing streak, and regularly lost by more thanfive touchdowns.
But win or lose — and clearly it’s been more of the latter — Swarthmore students and alumni were stunned and disappointed bySaturday’s decision by the college board to drop football.
“I don’t like losing. But you learn from sports. You learndetermination. You learn commitment. And yes, you learn how tolose,” said junior Jon Bartner, a linebacker on the 55-membersquad and one of about 100 students at a protest Tuesday.
One of the Oldest Football Teams
Swarthmore, which competed in the NCAA’s small-college DivisionIII, had the nation’s 15th-oldest college football program, goingback to 1879.
The college, founded in 1864 by pacifist Quakers, is far betterknown for its academics. The $34,000-a-year school in suburbanPhiladelphia is ranked second in the nation among liberal artscolleges by U.S. News and World Report.
Only the golf team won a championship in 2000. In 1999, thefootball team ended what at the time was the nation’s longestlosing streak at 28 games.
Swarthmore counts among its alumni author James Michener, formerDemocratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and three Nobellaureates.
Another alumnus is Neil Austrian, former president of theNational Football League. Austrian is threatening to quit thecollege’s board after 22 years, including eight as chairman, unlessfootball is reinstated.
“Football is one of the few sports that can galvanize the wholecommunity,” he said. “That’s worth something.”
The decision came after the end of the football season, duringwhich the team went 4-5, a big improvement from its winless seasonthree years ago. Swarthmore said it may agree to one more season in2001 just to allow current players to finish out their careers.