NYU President on Baseball as a Road to God

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New York University President John Sexton talks about how baseball can be used to illustrate the elements of a spiritual life--the subject of his popular course at NYU. In his new book Baseball as a Road to God, he shows that baseball is more than a game, or even a national pastime: It can be a road to a deeper and more meaningful life.


John Sexton

Comments [36]

Phil from NYC

John Sexton is truly inspiring. I have though so ever since hearing him speak eloquently as dean many years ago. I just loved listening to the baseball and life stories in this interview and am excited to read more of them in his book.

Mar. 14 2013 08:10 PM
Christopher from West Village

I find it odd that President Sexton is giving all of these interviews lately but is trying to avoid questions about the No Confidence vote. It's like he is on a public relations campaign.

Will anybody ask President Sextion why he is pursuing a massive expansion plan when:
1) NYU students are already some of the most indebted in the nation
2) NYU is already one of the largest private universities in the nation
3) Student debt default rates are escalating
4) Government is going to have to eventually cutback on its grants/tuition reimbursements to high cost schools

Mar. 14 2013 08:36 AM
kevin from ULS

did this guy grow up with 'laverne and shirley'?

Mar. 14 2013 12:07 AM
clive betters

so, is destroying greenwich village,an endeavor of the highest of high holiness ?

Mar. 14 2013 12:03 AM

Ouch! from New York ~

...oh, snap!

Mar. 13 2013 10:39 PM
Ouch! from New York

He seems like someone with a basic undergraduate feel-good course on religion under his belt, a mix of simplistic Durkheimian functionalism (baseball is social--gee whiz!) and old school phenomenology of religion (baseball gives us meaning and special feelings). Such analogies between religion and anything else at all social, or even human, are too easy, and if the comparison is so easily made, what is the point of using "religion" as a comparative tool? I mean, everything is LIKE religion in some way, for example, nationalism, baseball, pop music concerts--this tells us very little. He does not seem to know much about the current academic study of religion, which is surprising because he publicly boasts about how he still teaches despite being university president. This book would have been interesting--kind of--in 1971.

Mar. 13 2013 05:16 PM
Ana Weiss, adjunct professor, NYU from Brooklyn, NY

Why did you give Mr Sexton such a platform to speak about God and baseball when NYU faculty is meeting for a no-confidence vote against him???
He talks about hubris when he takes home $1,5 mil salary while we, adjunct professors, teaching 4-5 courses / year, a full-teaching load, can barely survive and pay the bills with $4000/course...
Cynical irony, your name is Sexton. Complicity to corporate greed, your name is NPR.

Mar. 13 2013 01:44 PM
Steve from New Jesey

How much do they charge for such a course? When listening I was at first impressed by how this teacher sold the school on this idea and then I realized it was the president of the school. HA! The love of a team sport has nothing to do with baseball. Had this man been born in Manchester he'd be obsessed with Man U. Most men want to join a tribe and belong --really that's it but I congratulate the guy for making his own ideal gig and getting paid for it!

Mar. 13 2013 01:21 PM
Katherine Jackson from LES

Bravo to all the comments on John Sexton's arrogance and spiritual hypocrisy! Talk about hubris! The idea that this man can prate on about spirituality while destroying one of NYC's most revered public space for covert corporate reasons dubious at best.

Mar. 13 2013 12:45 PM

John Sexton also sits on the board of the NY FED.

There's no conflict in being the president of a university whilst regulating the banks that hold that university's student debt?!?

Mar. 13 2013 12:44 PM

I meant to compare how the LA Dodgers demolished the Chavez Ravine neighborhood to how _NYU_ plans to demolish the Villages, of course.

(Altho the current NYC admin seems to countenance it.)

Mar. 13 2013 12:40 PM

How many families go into hock to support his $1.5 MILLION salary???

Mar. 13 2013 12:40 PM

Is this John Sexton or Jonathan Schwartz speaking? What a load...

Mar. 13 2013 12:34 PM
DK in BK

This guy is a real piece of work. It is a testament to our 21st internet culture that a rich and thoughtful discussion is happening on the WNYC comment page for this segment while a vapid interview is simultaneously taking place on-air. I'm so glad I check out the comments page to learn a bit more of Mr. Sexton, specifically the Lew payout.

Mar. 13 2013 12:34 PM
The Truth from Becky

"Racism didn't effect the game" interesting

Mar. 13 2013 12:31 PM
Kenneth Lonergan from Greenwich Village

Your guest has come to discuss his book on baseball and perhaps it would seem unfair to ask him about
the Sexton Plan - But he is discussing quality of life through baseball while pushing through a massive 20 year construction project in the heart of Greenwich Village. The plan is uniformly opposed by the community and the NYU faculty itself because will destroy the quality of life for those of us who make our homes here. Would he care to comment on this gross irony? Can he do so without recourse to the tired old saw of NIMBY which is used to defend every incursion on the quality of life in this country by those wealthy enough to keep their own back yards clean and quiet?

Mar. 13 2013 12:27 PM

...please stop with this breathy horse sh*t!

Mar. 13 2013 12:26 PM
Catherine from Brooklyn

Your web page shows a picture of Busch Stadium with a caption saying it is the site of this year's All Star Game. But everyone knows that this year's game will be held right here in NYC at Citi Field.

Mar. 13 2013 12:24 PM

I call a big ol' BULLSHIT on this colossal HYPOCRITE!!

Him, and Lee Bollinger up at Columbia.



Mar. 13 2013 12:23 PM

I quit paying attention to baseball at 14. Partly, I grew up, but also, because the Dodgers, my fave team, moved to LA, where I lived.

If the Dodgers could move out of their own neighborhood, then what was the meaning of home teams at all?

Also, the LA Dodgers demolished the Chavez Ravine neighborhood, a travesty.

You know, sort of like how NYC plans to demolish the Villages.

Mar. 13 2013 12:16 PM
Judith Chazen Walsh from New York City

Please ask President Sexton why he continues to ignore faculty, students,
community with regard to NYU 2031 Ask him how he can freeze faculty salaries, increase student debt with this plan that has already cost the
University millions of dollars and marred its standing in the academic world

Ask him why NYU gave such high dollar severance packages to Jack Lew and others

Ask him why he supports Abu Dhabi despite its human rights violations

Mar. 13 2013 12:10 PM
David L. from NYU

Recent baseball stadium construction projects like the new Yankee Stadium have resulted in much higher ticket prices, and the "upscaling" of baseball. This cuts off access for working class and even some middle class fans.

Likewise, higher ed costs have soared across the nation, and NYU is a prime example of the trend. Access to higher ed for working class and middle class Americans is becoming nigh on impossible. Is the NYU2031 expansion plan just another new Yankee Stadium--a gesture towards improvement that will result in barriers to access?

Mar. 13 2013 11:58 AM
Rhoma from South Village

It would be more appropriate if John Sexton would talk about corporate greed, prevarication, outright lying, and destruction of neighborhoods and lives of NYU's own faculty as the path to God. He would have done well during the Inquisition. For him home plate is a golden parachute, and the institution he is purported to serve -- NYU -- and the community around it be damned. I wouldn't trust a word that comes out of his mouth. For information on this week's faculty vote against John Sexton's autocratic regime (with the help of the developer trustees), see the website of NYUFASP. And don't forget to ask about the "loan" to Jack Lew, who caught a fly ball, if ever there was one.

Mar. 13 2013 11:57 AM
adjunct profesor from Brooklyn

Ask President Sexton if God told him to give Jack Lew $685,000 when he left the university, and if God thinks that it is the moral thing to do in light of the crushing student debt and the low pay of NYU teachers?

Mar. 13 2013 11:51 AM
Leslye from New York

Can you ask John Sexton how he can justify his deep religious beliefs which one would assume includes being a good neighbor and telling the truth. Both of which it appears the John Sexton is not very good at. He tries to come off as a little quirky and folksy, but in reality he is nothing but another greedy corporate monster who not only disrespects the faculty which he employs but the neighborhood that has supported NYU for more than 50 years. How dare he have the audacity to steal public parks, gardens and dog runs to build on. It is not HIS property as it is not Michael Bloombergs property. It belongs to the people of the city of NY. John Sexton has lived in the area for years and years and passes the Department of Parks flags and signs almost everyday, but has the nerve to tell the entire community that the parks we have used for 40 years are a figment of our imagination. It is a crooked deal, and nothing more than land theft and how a religious man can justify that is beyond me.

Mar. 13 2013 11:42 AM
Ann B. from New Jersey

Forthcoming from the same author: Construction as a Road to Immortality

Mar. 13 2013 11:38 AM
Ann B. from New Jersey

Forthcoming from the same author: Construction as a Road to Immortality

Mar. 13 2013 11:37 AM
Wreck from New York, NY

Can President Sexton be trusted on baseball or God if he cannot be trusted to tell the truth about what goes on at NYU, the institution he is charged with leading? His prevarications about the NYU2031 expansion plan are by now notorious -- and under litigation; his global imperial expansions are based upon the poorly-paid intellectual labor of contract faculty, with no job security or guarantees for freedom of speech; and the outrageous salaries, housing, and severance packages he metes out to his best buddies and favored acolytes are based upon the huge debts and loans contracted by students who wish to go to NYU. How does any of this square with the grace of baseball (in which I believe) or God (in whom I do not believe)?

Mar. 13 2013 11:08 AM
NYU TEACHER from Greenwich Village

What spiritual advice does he have for a full-time teacher at NYU for whose monthly take-home salary no longer covers the rent in an NYU rent-subsidized apartment?

Mar. 13 2013 11:07 AM
NYU professor from Greenwich Village

I wonder what spiritual advice Mr. Sexton may have for recent NYU graduates who are shouldering more debt than the graduates of any other major university? Would it help them, I wonder, if he contributed $1 million of his annual salary to a debt relief fund? That would still leave him with $400,000, almost enough to afford season tickets to the Yankees' games.

Mar. 13 2013 10:52 AM
Hubert J Steed from Greenwich Village NYC

How does President Sexton's view of God and baseball relate to his NYC/NYU2031 Expansion Plan to destroy with the construction of skyscrapers over the next 20 years - parks, gardens, and children's playgrounds in the heart of Greenwich Village?

Perhaps a better plan would be to move his Law and Business Schools into the new World Trade Center Tower, an area that really needs enlightened help - and free up the congestion in Greenwich Village?

Mar. 13 2013 10:48 AM
Pari Sara from NY

I was wondering where God was, he is playing baseball.

Mar. 13 2013 10:18 AM
Adam from New York

John Sexton is the last person on earth who should be allowed to speak about God, ethics or morality. Why would you give such a platform to someone who is spending students' tuition which, mostly is from loans or second mortgage on their parents homes to buy fancy apartments for his friends and pay them unbelievable salary?

Mar. 13 2013 10:17 AM

I wonder which leader from the history of baseball in NYC President Sexton looks to as an example. Faculty at NYU seemingly think of him as most similar to George Steinbrenner or Billy Martin.

Mar. 13 2013 10:06 AM
Zach from Albany

I'm curious about President Sexton's thoughts on the current No Confidence vote in progress among his faculty.

Mar. 13 2013 09:58 AM
Ed from Larchmont

It reminds me of Pres. Bartlett Giamatti's writing on baseball, similar?

Mar. 13 2013 05:57 AM

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