Spelman College is getting rid of athletics in order to focus on wellness programs for the entire college.
Spelman's president, Beverley Daniel Tatum, told CBS Atlanta News that black women are at a particular risk of health problems, so it's important to get them all active at a young age.
"When heart specialists say black women are at the top of list for heart disease, and when we know black women are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, all of these issues being related to weight gain and being overweight," said Tatum. "It made sense for us to really try to address that issue."
Spelman College plans to add new activities to campus like zumba, yoga and dance classes.
"These tend to draw students who may not think about exercise but like to dance. So the creativity that our wellness coordinator has brought to task has encouraged more and more students to get involved," said Tatum.
Also, Spelman College plans to replace collegiate sports with intramurals so everyone can play.
"It will allow students to work together in teams, in collaboration and allow students to be able to have other outlets. Instead of coming to a game, they can be in the game," said athletic director Germaine McAuley.
But not everyone is happy about it. Many of the current athletes were shocked to hear the news they wouldn't be playing next year.
"A lot of the athletes are extremely upset. Some are talking about transferring," said basketball player Amber Banks.
Banks said the benefits of college athletics just can't be replaced. "It means a lot putting on that uniform and working with people who you know care about you," said Banks. "Working for a coach who wants you to do well and you want to do well for them. It's sad to have that go."
But in the end, the athletes are greatly outnumbered by the rest of the students.
"I think it can make a huge difference. Doctors tell us 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in health status," said Tatum.
Tatum said she has gotten a lot of phone calls from other small colleges about doing something like this. It wasn't their goal to be the guinea pig, but Tatum said they welcome the challenge.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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