Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Laptops, Wiffle Ball, and Huskies

I have just experienced one of the greatest moments in my college career at Marquette University. It may appear as though I am exaggerating, but I am not. How many other times am I going to see the Marquette Warriors (no matter what I will never recognize them as the Golden ‘Chickens’) beat the number two team in the country?! And in their Big East conference debut of all games?! I had no expectations (realistic ones mind you) of seeing it happen before my own eyes this evening, but it did.

As you can probably assume, I am deadbeat tired right now. I stood outside the Bradley Center this morning starting at eleven o’clock (with a stuffed-up nose and a bit of a cough), went entirely horse during the game, and I am in complete elation right now with work ahead of me tomorrow from ten until seven in the evening. I want to keep this post as short and as sweet as possible, but we’ll see.

Here’s my first observation – I hate (I know it sounds like such a harsh word to use but being the conservative I am I could no imagine a more appropriate word to describe my sentiments toward this) the tort system in this country. It is because of this that college students can not even enjoy a friendly game of wiffle ball as they wait hours in line for one of the biggest basketball games of the season. If you do not know what wiffle ball is it is sort of like baseball but with a plastic ball, bat, and slightly revised rules. I say this because a few MU Fanatics (a majority of whom had been standing outside the Bradley Center since nine in the morning) were told by Bradley Center security that they were no longer allowed to play wiffle ball outside in esplanade (right across from the US Cellular arena), even though nothing had been said before about it in the year and a half they had been playing it.

The head of Bradley Center security, who initially refused to speak to three of the MU Fanatics who politely requested an explanation, argued that this decision was made because someone might get hit in the head with a wiffle ball. For anyone who has ever handled a wiffle ball, this is ridiculous. My thoughts however were that the Bradley Center was in fear of being sued if one of the students accidentally ran into the street and was hit by a car. Every one of us who were playing wiffle ball realized the consequences and accepted the fact that if any one of us were to be injured it would be own fault.

We did not make a big stink about it (some words were said, but they were amongst ourselves and never aimed at Bradley Center security), but it was a bit of damper waiting in line with nothing to do.

My second observation – can Marquette University get anything right? There was the infamous ‘Gold’ decision, the expulsion of the Dental Student blogger, and now this. The night before a few MU Fanatics (the very same who were told that they would not allowed to play wiffle ball while waiting outside the Bradley Center that same afternoon) created signs (some of which read ‘UConnvicts’ and ‘UConn’s Guards Lead the Nation in Steals’ but nothing more harsh then that) and mock laptops (with a picture of Marcus Williams in an orange jumpsuit on the screen). The students were allowed to bring them into the Bradley Center (in fact quite a few of the security guards got quite a chuckle out of seeing them) but about a few minutes into the game itself, gentlemen from MU Athletics demanded that we turn over those signs and mock laptops with no explanation as to why this was being done.

MU Athletics at this moment has not commented on this incident but I will be contacting them in the morning (either through e-mail or a phone conversation) requesting an official explanation. Whatever the reason may be I will say that it was poorly handled. The gentlemen who told us to hand over the signs and mock laptops nearly ripped them from our hands and gave no explanation as to why this was being done.

Again, words were exchanged but we did not make a big stink out of it. A minute or two after our signs and mock laptops were taken from us, shouts of ‘LAPTOP, LAPTOP, LAPTOP’ were shouted from the student section we were in.

Some Bradley Center security guards who were standing in our student section gave me two explanations – one, someone from another student section threw something onto the court (which does not give them the right to do what they did, at least not in the manner in which it was conducted) or, two, someone believed it to be derogatory. The latter explanation does not stick either. None of the signs or the mock laptops made reference to Williams’ race but instead comment on an event which took place.

This leads me to my third and final observation of the evening – Marcus Williams is got off easy. If you are unaware of what I am referring to here, read up on how Marcus Williams, point-guard for the UConn Huskies, was suspended from playing men’s basketball by the University of Connecticut for the theft of four laptops this past summer.

I took in a few minutes of ESPN’s Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith, a sports commentary program, upon arriving home from the men’s basketball game this evening. It was taped before Marquette and UConn. faced off this evening. Early in the program he heralded Marcus Williams’ return to UConn Huskies’ line-up and wrote the theft of four laptop computers off as a ‘college kid who did something stupid’ and paid he debt to society.

Here’s my quandary – would everyone, including officials at the University of Connecticut, be as quick to write this off if (a) Marcus Williams were white or if (b) Marcus Williams were white and not on an athletics team? My guess would be no, but that’s just me talking.

However, this still perplexes me. What is the state of collegiate ethics that a dental student is expelled for comments he made on a personal blog with no direct reference to any individuals while a point-guard for the number two men’s college basketball team in the country is suspended from play for a few months for the theft of four laptop computers (which, instead of selling them on e-Bay, proceeded to hawk them at local pawn shops)?

Marquette University, University of Connecticut – care to explain this to me?

So much for keeping this short. Oh well. Goooo-Goooo-Gooooo!! Go Marquette, Go-Go-Go!!!