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Inside The Wild World Of Fairfield County Parents Trying To Get Their Kids Into Ivy League Schools Through Niche Sports

Thanks to growing up in Connecticut, I have always known about the weird world of Fairfield County. I've always thought that there should be a Real Housewives Of Fairfield County like there is one for Orange County. The culture is hard to put into words, but it for sure is fascinating from a reality TV perspective. 

The article from The Atlantic above gives a fantastic look into one of the most important aspects of Fairfield County: what college your kids go to. 

With the ever changing world of college admissions, one constant has stayed: using niche sports to get your kid into a top school. While those in poverty use sports as a way to "get out," those already in rich environments use sports you only think of during The Olympics to make sure they aren't left behind. 

SOURCE-On paper, Sloane, a buoyant, chatty, stay-at-home mom from Fairfield County, Connecticut, seems almost unbelievably well prepared to shepherd her three daughters through the roiling world of competitive youth sports.

And going to a school like say Ohio State? That's unacceptable.

She is also versed in statistics, which comes in handy when she’s analyzing her eldest daughter’s junior-squash rating—and whiteboarding the consequences if she doesn’t step up her game. “She needs at least a 5.0 rating, or she’s going to Ohio State,” Sloane told me.

She laughed: “I don’t mean to throw Ohio State under the bus. It’s an amazing school with amazing school spirit.”

The article starts off with a story of a 4th of July that was filled with sporting events. Sloane was in California with her squash playing daughter and her husband was in Columbus, Ohio at a fencing tournament. You see playing basketball and/or baseball isn't what's going to get you into a NESCAC or Ivy League school. It's the weird sports like rowing, fencing, squash. There is less competition in them. There's a reason why the Lori Loughlin story existed. 

“There’s no more school,” a parent from the town of Darien told me flatly. (She, like Sloane and several other parents, did not want to be identified for privacy and recruitment reasons.) “There’s no more church. No more friends. We gave it all up for squash.” She says she is working on a memoir that she intends to self-publish, titled Squashed.

"We gave it all up for squash" made me laugh.

Towns like Darien, Greenwich, and Westport are some of the richest in America due to its proximity to New York City. The finance bro dream is as follows: an internship at a top investment bank, get job offer, hopefully, stay with that bank for a decade or so before going to another bank, become a VP or MD, move to Darien, have kids, and then have an NYC apartment or two that you make available to the girls you cheat on your wife with on "late nights at the office."

A story published last fall by The Daily Princetonian found that the Gold Coast of Connecticut pumps more athletic recruits into Ivy League schools than any other region in the nation.

We didn't need a study for that to be proved. Could've saved you the time and money and just told you that. 

Or, as the Darien parent told me, they’re using athletics to escape “the penalty that comes from being from an advantaged zip code.” She continued: “Being who you are is not enough. It might be enough in Kansas. But not here.”

The classic underdog story of the kid from Darien. Fought through the tough times. 

According to The Washington Post, Harvard, which typically admits approximately 5 percent of its applicants, reports acceptance rates as high as 88 percent for athletes endorsed by its coaches.

Holy shit. 88% for athletes? If you have a kid, get them into rowing right now. Trust me. Especially if he/she is short? They could be a coxswain.

“They’ll always wonder what would’ve happened—and who they could have wowed,” Inside Lacrosse CEO Terry Foy told me, referring to the high-school seniors. “To have that opportunity lost …” His voice trailed off, before he picked up again, mournfully: “The kid who would have gone to Yale now goes to Georgetown. The kid who would have gone to Georgetown now goes to Loyola. On and on. And then eventually you get down to Wentworth. And then you just don’t play college sports.”

Caleb and Rone should've done a report on this. The thought of this lax CEO almost starting to cry before mentioning that a kid may end up at Wentworth is so absurd it's hilarious.

“Sorry, but there’s no way in hell,” said the water-polo mom from Stamford. “What parent wants to have a child who’s going to be playing for a bottom-tier school with bottom-tier academics in the armpit of the United States? I want to be polite. But there’s no way in hell.”

It's Ivy League/NESCAC/a few other schools or bust for these parents. It's not as much about what they want for their kids but what it makes them look like at the local country club. Do you think sending your kid to a small D2 school in Indiana is a good look over white winee? Absolutely not. 

Her kid just completed his freshman year at a not-so-fancy college in the South, and, according to his mom, he’s happy enough. But she feels bitter, and wonders if her younger boy should quit club lacrosse. “The guys who get recruited to the Ivies—it turns out these guys are beasts,” she said. “I saw them at showcases. They were like stallions.”

She and her husband feel hoodwinked by the directors of her son’s club-lacrosse program, which happily stoked her fantasies while stockpiling her money: $10,000 a year for 11 years. “They were talking Notre Dame for him,” she said. “Our eyes were glistening … We went to 16 showcases last year. I can’t believe the money we spent to see our son rejected 16 times.”

I gotta start one of these club lacrosse programs. 10k per player? 

“In small sports, the parents figure out quickly whom their child is competing with for college positions,” says Tim Morehouse, an Olympic silver-medal fencer and the founder of the Tim Morehouse Fencing Club, in the New York metro area. “Instead of letting their child develop, you have parents trying to compete behind the scenes, to the point of trashing other athletes.”

Morehouse knows of a situation in which a fencer received a “likely” letter from an Ivy. Shortly thereafter, the university’s admissions department began to get letters saying that the athlete was a bad person and had faked competition results. The fencer’s high-school guidance department contacted the university to correct the falsehood—and what the department heard back was jarring, Morehouse told me: “They said, ‘You have nothing to worry about. This actually happens all the time.’ ”

It's no holds barred in Fairfield County when it comes to your kids. There's nothing off-limits when you're trying to get your kid into an Ivy. 

In terms of craziness it is:

1. Texas high school football. 

2. Fairfield County niche sports.

The ultrarich squash families go even further, installing pros off tour in their guest homes or in-law suites, to be available for private instruction on demand. “We’ve emptied out the U.K. of all their squash coaches,” one parent told me. “They all live here in Fairfield County, in people’s homes, teaching their kids on their private courts.”

I knew about rowing. I knew about fencing. I knew about lacrosse. However, I had no idea about this squash culture. Building guest homes for coaches?!

In March 2017, Khan accompanied Linda and her children on a private-jet trip to a squash tournament. “We flew out of Teterboro to San Diego,” he said. “I’d never flown private. I was excited. I thought I was going to kick back, maybe listen to some music, enjoy a drink.” Instead, a half hour into the flight, “I saw a plethora of paperwork come out of the nannies’ bag.” The Robinsons had instructed the nannies to compile opposition-research dossiers for the upcoming tourney.

INSANE.

There are people in this world who don't have enough food to eat, so it's hard to feel bad for a kid raised in Greenwich, but boy this must be a lot on them. You feel bad for them in a weird way. It's like they're living their parent's dreams. 

“We say to the rowers, ‘You’ve got to get out of the rowing position. You need relaxation techniques; you need diaphragmatic stretching.’ And the dad says, ‘Well, we have to get her back on the [rowing machine]. We need to shave three seconds off her erg time or Georgetown doesn’t want her.’ ”

The entire article from The Atlantic is a great long read.