Letters to the Editor
The End of Rifle?
Well, first I must say congratulations to Ms. Rogers on an excellent article in the current Xavier magazine ("A New Dawn"). So many things going on in your fast-paced world. But wait, what's this I read? You have eliminated Xavier rifle? Of course, the article makes absolutely no mention of the reason for this elimination. I guess rifle isn't as important as, say, basketball, which garnered an impressive seven pages of coverage in this issue alone. Or track, which now has two new programs according to the profile and the box on page 33.
Of course, I have an insider's advantage in the rifle arena, so I already knew about its death. My best friend at Xavier was on the rifle team from 1987-1991. I knew nothing about rifle when I arrived on campus in 1987; didn't even know it was a sport. That changed quickly, believe me.
While at Xavier I learned the difference between small bore and air rifle, between prone, kneeling and standing. I learned how important it was to support your teammates when they were doing well. I learned how much more important it was to support your teammates when they weren't doing well. I learned to keep quiet when someone was shooting (an important lesson). I learned that you can help the team even if you're not on the team and I went to almost all the matches. I learned about the Walsh Rifle Match and even got to participate when Xavier hosted it (though not as a shooter, don't worry). I learned that Alan Joseph was a patient and kind coach, dedicated to his team. I learned that Mr. Joseph recruited top shooters and fought diligently for the recognition his team deserved. I also found that he didn't mind having a "rifle groupie" hang around. I learned that rifle was the poor relation of Xavier athletics, and apparently that hasn't changed. I learned that Xavier rifle was, and is still, the most successful athletic program in Xavier's history.
I learned that rifle teaches an ability to remain calm under stressful situations, sharp attention to detail, self discipline, how to build concentration skills and how to hone your self control. I learned that rifle teaches individual performance while encouraging team building and cooperation. I learned that rifle is one of the only, if not the only, sport in which men and women compete on an equal basis. Shooting side by side, on the same team, at the same time. Can anyone say Title IX?
Xavier rifle is a nationally ranked NCAA Division I sport. It has garnered an incredible amount of positive attention for the University and the decision to cancel it does not just impact the current athletes who are on the team. It affects future generations of Xavier students, who will be forced to attend another university because Xavier rifle is gone. It impacts the view of Xavier held by current students and their parents, prospective students and their parents and alumni. It also impacts the view of Xavier held by strangers to Xavier, those who are hearing about the rifle situation from students, friends and alumni. If you need evidence of this, visit www.petitiononline.com/XURifle to view the 1,765 signatures collected so far.
I find it disconcerting that Xavier is so unwilling to provide its full attention and financial support to a sport that has sent two Xavier athletes to the Olympics. A sport that has produced 51 All-American awards over the past 14 years. A sport that is consistently ranked in the top five nationally. With everything that Xavier rifle teaches, and everything that Xavier rifle gives back to the University, how can it not be worth supporting?
In the magazine, President Michael J. Graham, S.J., wrote, "Seems like nothing much worth doing in life comes without a challenge...As I look around…I'm constantly reminded of the real prices we are called to pay in life to do those things that are most worthwhile…All this brings us back to the basketball season" ("Good Dreams: The Start of Great Achievements"). I say to you now Father Graham that all this actually brings us back to Xavier rifle. And the thing that is most worthwhile is doing whatever you can to ensure the reinstatement and survival of Xavier rifle.
Because the real price we are paying is the cancellation of Xavier rifle. The real price we are paying is the shattered dreams of the athletes currently on the Xavier rifle team who are faced with abandonment by the University at the end of this academic year, despite the promises made to them when they came to the University. The real price we are paying is the understanding that the Xavier University of the past, the Xavier University we believed in when we were students, no longer exists.
The real price we are paying is the understanding that no matter how successful you are, no matter how much you win, no matter how much you matter to the world of NCAA Division I sports, no matter how well you do in the Olympics … if you can't bring in the bucks you're just not worth it to Xavier University.
Enjoyed reading this edition of Xavier news. Very informative and interesting. Greg Rust is to be congratulated on the fabulous pictures of the snow on campus. Keep up the good news. Peace and blessings in 2005.
I was stunned by the headline on page five: "Mountain Bike 'Chick' Races to Top." Half the human race is still less than human? I know the humorous intention here, but humor hurts sometimes. Would "jock" have been used for a man?
Thanks so much for the article and picture of Fr. James Hasse's work of Madonna and Child. Simply beautiful, so meaningful and very likely more nearly accurate than our white complexioned versions. I am sharing this with others.
Xavier's web page titles an article, "Athletes, fans boiling over during the heat of the battle." Could I ask whether this kind of language reflects problems not just with sports in the U.S., with our democracy and with our culture in general? Fans and athletes shouldn't be boiling over in some kind of war nor should citizens be boiling over in some kind of war with one another over political candidates. When was the last time you heard a political candidate in a debate say to an opponent, "I see what you mean. That's a valid point."
This leads to a larger question. When I read Scripture I see much about sharing and cooperation. When I look at our sports culture, business culture, political culture; I see a great deal about competition, winning and losing. Life should not be a game with winners and losers, much less a war. In God's eyes and I hope in all of our eyes, each one of us is a winner and should be treated as such. Could I suggest that our culture puts much too much emphasis on competition and way too little emphasis on cooperation and sharing?
Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J.
I, too, was upset to hear that X is no longer sponsoring a homecoming. Perhaps instead of eliminating homecoming altogether you could scale the number of activities back. Social activities for different decades of grads on Friday and then a basketball game on Saturday.