Caitlin Flanagan is the pundit equivalent of a Three True Outcomes slugger. Her non-Brett Kavanaugh-related writing about feminism is sort of like the 2019 version of Chris Davis. But once in a while she really gets hold of one, and drawing on her own history as an advisor for rich kids this is one of those times:
The first was sports. Legacy admissions have often been called affirmative action for white people, but the rich-kid sports—water polo, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, and even (God help us all) sailing and actual polo—are the true affirmative action for the rich. I first became acquainted with this fact when I was preparing for a meeting with the parents of a girl who was a strong but not dazzling student; the list her parents had submitted, however, consisted almost exclusively of Ivy League colleges. I brought her file in to my boss for guidance. She looked it over and then, noticing something in the section on extracurricular activities and tapping it decisively with her pen, said, “Oh, she’ll get in—volleyball.”
Volleyball? Yale was going to let her in—above half a dozen much more academically qualified and many much more interesting kids on my roster—because she played volleyball? I soon learned that the coaches of all these sports were allowed a certain number of recruits each year, and that so long as a kid met basic academic qualifications—which our kids easily did—the coaches got their way. I never heard an admissions person question a coach; “She’s on the soccer list,” the admissions person would say, and we’d move on to the next kid.
It’s pretty much all this good.