Phillipian Sports Fall Series: A Critical Look at PA Sports

In a series spanning the entire fall term, The Phillipian will be taking an in-depth look at the Phillips Academy athletics program, focusing on a number of specific topics. Looking at statistics from the 1990’s and the first seven years (excluding the fall term of 2006) of this decade, Andover’s sports program has declined in the new millennium. In the 1990’s, 20 Andover varsity teams combined to win 55 New England championships. In the first seven years of the 1990’s, 17 varsity teams won a total of 40 New England titles. Six of those 17 teams won three or more titles from 1990-1996. In the first seven years of the new millennium, 13 varsity squads have combined to win 23 New England championships. The Varsity Boys and Girls Track teams and the Girls Swimming team have won over half of those 23 championships on their own. The Varsity Football, Boys and Girls Soccer, Boys and Girls Basketball, Boys and Girls Hockey, Boys and Girls Waterpolo, and Field Hockey teams have combined to win a grand total of one New England championship from 2000-2006 (once again excluding the fall of 2006). Not only did Andover win many more championships in the first seven years of the 1990’s but also won 15 titles in the last three years of the decade, only eight fewer than Andover has won in the seven years of the new decade. Is there any reason for Andover diminished success in athletics in the new millennium? In this series, The Phillipian will examine every aspect of the Athletic Department and, hopefully, we can draw conclusions that will bring Andover back to the level of success that it enjoyed in the previous decade. The Phillipian will investigate the actual Athletic Department itself. Are more full-time coaches needed to run an athletic department managing over 1000 students? Should coaching athletics been on a par with teaching in the teacher-house counselor-coach triple threat system that Andover currently implements? The series will also examine the athletic department’s capability to give every student, from the aspiring Division I athlete to the aspiring small college and Division III athlete to the aspiring Andover varsity athlete to the student that does not care at all about sports, a positive and beneficial athletic experience. The articles will analyze the athletic requirement and whether every student has a quality athletic option. The Andover JV program will also be investigated. Does the JV program develop talent and prepare its athletes for varsity play? Can an athlete go from a JV team as an upper to meaningfully contributing to a varsity team as a senior? On the same note, should interest and competence in athletics in applicants for ninth or tenth grade be considered in the admission process, assuming that those applicants are worthy students but maybe not necessarily the very best students? Finally, the series will look at the role of post-graduates at Andover and how they fit into the Phillips Academy community. The central issue in this series is whether Andover is satisfied with just being competitive in all sports or is there a concerted effort to build an athletic program that consistently wins or contends for championships in all sports. Should the standards of excellence in athletics be equal to the standards of excellence in academics? This series will allow you to make your own opinion about that.