Athletics at Harvard began in 1780 when the sophomores challenged the freshmen to a wrestling tournament with the losers buying dinner. Since its historic boat race against archrival Yale in 1852, Harvard has been in the forefront of American intercollegiate sports. Its football team conceived the modern version of the game and devised essentials ranging from the first concrete stadium to a scoreboard to uniform numbers to signals.
Some of you may have seen the recent 60 Minutes piece featuring one of our student-athletes, Schuyler Bailar. Schuyler is a freshman breaststroker on our men's swimming and diving team, and his journey to Cambridge is a unique one.
For Harvard's legendary coaches, their achievements are calculated not so much by victories and championships but by their lasting influence on thousands of student-athletes. John Powers '70 shares the value these coaches have as educators and mentors.
Intercollegiate athletics provides a unique opportunity to educate—lessons that can be learned by all participants: student-athletes, coaches and spectators. One of the most valuable results is the development of character through the adherence to the highest standards of integrity, ethics and sportsmanship.
The Harvard-Yale rivalry is the oldest—and one of the most storied—in intercollegiate athletics. John Powers, from the Harvard class of 1970, shares some insights into this special relationship, which is founded on keen competition and mutual respect.
Formed officially in 1954, the Ivy League is made up of eight of the nation’s oldest institutions of higher learning. John Powers ‘70, shares some thoughts on the history of this special League and what makes it unique in intercollegiate athletics.
Over the last several years, prospective student-athletes have been making verbal commitments to college athletic programs at increasingly earlier points in their high school careers. In 2014, The New York Times found that 31% of men’s lacrosse players and 24% of women’s soccer players who use one particular scouting service received and accepted scholarship offers well before their senior years, sometimes as early as ninth grade.
We, at Harvard, believe that the pursuit of excellence through personal development and teamwork is critical in developing habits that will lead to better and healthier lives. It is through this pursuit that we learn to take risks and challenge ourselves, that we learn to communicate with others, and that we learn to lead a group of individuals toward a common goal.