Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath, has an interesting
viewpoint regarding one’s choice of institutions for pursuing higher
education. He suggests being a big fish in a little pond yields better results
than the other way around. Being in the top third of your class breeds
esteem, whereas being in the lower third (albeit a third with fine students)
often discourages those who are always looking up at those who
I don’t remember a lot said at some 45 commencement speeches I
attended. One statement I do remember was that the best way to become
educated in America was in good small colleges. Gladwell further
acknowledges that even at some of our very best schools exceptions are
made. And often these exceptions are given to athletes. And while many
exceptions are given thinking we are doing them a favor, he suggests
maybe the results are not the outcomes we would want.
Having been involved in college athletics for some 40-plus years,
Gladwell makes one ask questions, because so many exceptions go to
athletes. Are we putting these youngsters into situations they cannot
function or feel positive in?
The real value of athletics lies in the lessons learned therein. Doesn’t the
student have to be capable of and willing to learn the lessons? Choosing
the right school seems critical to marginal students and athletes.