If the title of this post sounds strange, it’s because it is. In Switzerland, athletics and academics don’t mix.
And here’s a big American cheer for that.
I was visiting the US a few weeks back, and I couldn’t help but notice how sports have taken over the entire country (maybe it’s always been this way, but after living in Switzerland, I’m more sensitive to it).
The news was filled with what college basketball coaches were fired, what players had been caught with what drugs, and more.
But despite all of that, the overall sentiment seemed to be: Who cares about high unemployment and unaffordable health care when you can give a big, big cheer for the Lions, Tigers, and Bears!
I couldn’t escape these animal tendencies anywhere. Family members gave my little daughter clothes with badgers, cubs, and black hawks emblazoned on the front.
My inbox was filled with emails about picking March Madness brackets and with messages from my former alma mater like: Do you have Rams spirit?
If men’s basketball is what it takes to have an appreciation for my school, then no, I guess I am spiritless.
Call me boring, call me an intellectual, call me un-American, but I’m more interested in what creative leaders are presenting to my former grad school’s Friday speaker series than what the rank of the undergraduate basketball team is.
As a Swissified American, I didn’t fit in at all.
Luckily, I could escape back to Switzerland, where children concentrate on math and science instead of whether they are going to make the cheerleading squad.
In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, the United States placed well below Switzerland in math and reading scores.
And when you see the amount of money invested in athletics versus academics between the two countries, really, it’s nothing for Americans to cheer about.
The Swiss on the other hand, really do deserve a big, “Go ETH!”