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April 01, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-01

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 1, 1999

420 Maynard Street HEATHER KAMINS
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
dailyletters@umich.edu,
Edited and managed by JEFFREY KOSSEFF
students at the DAVID WALLACE
University of Michigan - Editorial Page Editors
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

A Spartan Saturday night, right out

Maing an MPACT
Student athletes work to improve campus

L ike many of you, I watched reports of
flames pouring from overturned cars in
the streets of East Lansing East Saturday
night. Today, police are searching video-
tapes frame by frame to find the culprits.
They're looking for
students, but I've got b
my own theory: I
think it was Sparty.x
That's right. The
seemingly harmless
mascot best known#
in these parts for
having his crotch
rammed into the
upright at Michigan
Stadium. We've all
laughed as the cheer-
leaders held his David
limbs, lined him up Wallace
and plowed him into Exile
the pole as an excla-
mation point on a Maynard__
double-digit win.
No, you say. He's just a clown. And he's
got a good heart. Did we not see him a few
years ago in the ESPN studios, helping to
carry Kerri Strug - a wounded American
hero?
And, you add, look at his face. Is that
the face of one who incites a riot? His
features tell a different story of a simple
life: the permanent grimace, implying a
look of puzzlement as though he had just
been asked to differentiate an equation.
Maybe the guy in green body paint and
boxer shorts could have been involved,
but not Sparty!
Oh, how wrong you are. First, I doubt
that the wiry green guy seen in the crowd
at Spartan games could have been
involved. If he was, he likely died in one of
the fires and hasn't been discovered yet.

But Sparty, oh yes, I'm sure he wanted his
own little Peloponnesian War last
Saturday.
Thanks to the media, playing Thucydides
in this millennium, we all saw police cars
capsized in the streets like Athens' ships in
the decisive battle.
Now this was no scene of destruction that
could have come about under the leadership
of soft college students. Granted, I've never
tried to overturn a car, but I know that it
would require immense strength.
Many students working together could
accomplish such a feat, you say? Hah! A
coordinated effort from students in an obvi-
ously drunken state - I think not. Only
someone from a military city-state bred for
battle could do such deeds.
Look at Sparty. He stands seven feet tall.
And his body would make Mark McGwire
stop wearing muscle shirts. I mean, Sparty
looks like he downs Andro daiquiries at the
campus watering hole, or maybe the rec
building.
I don't know for sure what it was that set
him off. To show such good humor for years
and yet hail from Sparta, well, he must have
been suppressing his nature. The irony had
to eat away at him - Spartans, the soldiers
who never lost, suffering ignominious
defeats on the athletic field of battle
throughout the decade.
Then things changed this year, led by the
Spartan basketball team. Victories piled up
and rival nations fell, including our own
maize and blue. Ancient glories were recap-
tured.
But the Spartans could not crawl out of
the shadow of Duke - college basketball's
Periclean Athens. Duke: the richest, the
most influential, and the most cultured. And
at the head of Duke's empire, Pericles for
our time, coach Mike Krzyzewski. His

of Greek tragedy
influence carrying across states, he assem-
bles talent yearly into the most admired
program in the land.
The Spartans played their familiar role.
Disrespected. Brutish. Unrefined. Sparty
shined his armor, waiting to repeat history
and storm Attica. The years of bruised
pride, the bad-mouthing of haughty neigh-
bors, it would end here.
But events didn't exactly unfold as they
did thousands of years ago. Duke would not
play the role of the defeated Athens, and
instead marched through the Spartan attack
unscathed. The Spartan team accepted the
loss, but I'm sure it was too much for
Sparty.
He must have seen things weren't going
well and caught an early plane back to East
Lansing. Impossible you say? I don't know
how he did it either. Maybe the gods were
involved.
But here's the clincher for me: Sparty as
we know him was born in 1989. That's
right, he's only 10 years old. Now, assuming
you can give MSU students a little credit,
they are adults. Let's give them the benefit
of the doubt and say they act like it. Now I
ask you, were the actions of last Saturday
night those of adults, or the kind of destruc-
tion only a giant 10-year-old with reservoirs
of strength could wreak?
Thank you. I knew you'd come around to
my way of seeing it. Sparty's story, the col-
lapse of MSU, is right out of Greek tragedy.
For us Michigan students, it was a little
uncomfortable seeing the Spartans in what
are usually our heroic exploits. We've all
probably got a little touch of schadenfreude
after the fall. I know I feel a little.
But personally, as a Michigander, I feel
sad more than anything.
- David Wallace can be reached over
e-mail at davidmw@umich.edu.

L ast week, student athletes involved in
Michigan Peer Advisers Creating Trust
announced their new plans for an alcohol
awareness initiative encompassing all
Michigan sports teams. M-PACT is a peer
advising program compromised of and for
student athletes. Since its founding in 1995,
M-PACT has included 105 student-athlete
representatives from 21 oflMichigan's 23 var-
sity sports. M-PACT has opened the opportu-
nity to discuss serious campus issues, such as
the newest initiative taken by the group that
focuses on alcohol. The initiative requires
each team to develop guidelines on responsi-
ble alcohol consumption.
For better or for worse, the University's
athletic programs receive more national press
an any other part of the school. Athletes serve
as ambassadors - they represent the
University to the nation. Their actions are
watched more carefully than the average stu-
dent. Because of their status, the members of
the athletic community serve as role models
for many other students. With the highly pub-
licized alcohol-related student deaths on cam-
puses across the nation, binge-drinking in par-
ticular is a hot topic. The spotlight on college
campuses highlights the need for educational,
peer-oriented groups like M-PACT.
M-PACT leaders have recognized that
there are many problems on campus and that
they could successfully combat problems with
the help of student athletes. M-PACT leaders
are also aware that while they cannot get peo-

ple to stop drinking, they can help them with
their problems and provide guidance. Trying
to stop athletes -- or any other students -
from drinking is clearly the wrong way to
attack drinking-related problems on campus.
Alcohol is an integral part of the campus
social scene at the University and nationwide
- a fact that M-PACT accepts, as any group
wishing to be taken seriously by students
would have to.
M-PACT's long term goals will be to insti-
tute team guidelines and work their initiative
into BALANCE, an orientation program that
covers a myriad of campus issues such as per-
sonal safety, sex, drugs and alcohol. BAL-
ANCE focuses on issues that affect the lives
of almost every college student. Many stu-
dents arrive at the University unaware of the
reality of these issues -yet eager to test their
newfound freedom. While not focusing on
responsible drinking before, the new alcohol
initiative developed by M-PACT will definite-
ly add a very important component to the ori-
entation program.
Students behind M-PACT should be com-
mended for taking on a leadership role and
helping shape both the image and actions of
the athletic community. Rather than preaching
"just say no" - or letting an authoritative
group, such as the athletic department, call the
shots - these students have taken matters
into their own hands and developed a program
that they believe students like themselves will
benefit from.

e,

THOMAS KULJURGIS

TF,.NrATIixEiSPEAKIN'KG

REGARDING THE

: S~J A&(

JONF~l

CASi

MAC,

Diplomatic game
Contest played in Cuba could help relations

It has been called everything from baseball
diplomacy to a tacit support of Fidel
Castro's regime, but after 11 innings of
intense on-the-field competition, Sunday's
game between the Baltimore Orioles and the
Cuban national team ended as the same thing
it was when it began: a baseball game. For
the first time since the Cincinnati Reds
played the Los Angeles Dodgers in March
1959, a professional American baseball team
played a game in Cuba. The contest was sug-
gested in a package of new initiatives
towards the Communist island nation, pro-
posed by President Clinton in January. The
Orioles - who play their home games clos-
er to the nation's capital than any other Major
League team - downplayed the game's pos-
sibly contentious political significance in
favor of stressing goodwill between the peo-
ple of both countries: "Through the medium
of baseball, the national game of both coun-
tries, we will be able to establish ties of
friendship and cooperation with the Cuban
people," Peter Angelos, owner of the Orioles,
told reporters before the game.
Ironically, both the United States and
Cuba - bitter political adversaries since
Castro's revolution in 1959 - consider base-
ball to be an important part of their cultural
heritage. Castro, who was a pitcher for the
University of Havana, is an avid fan of the
game and Sunday's international competition
brought a crowd of 50,000 to Havana's
Estadio Latinamericano. Despite the fact that
dozens of Cuban players have defected to the
United States to play for big money in the
Major Leagues - an issue that will be on
everybody's mind when the two teams play a
re-match in Baltimore in May - the Cuban
national team has long enjoyed the status of
one of the world's premiere clubs, winning
the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in
Atlanta. Sunday's extra-inning bout - won
by the Orioles in the 11th - was an indica-
tion that the Cubans can hold their own with
an., teamn nA rti a'4

Beyond the playing field, many have tried
to extract a political message from this con-
troversial game. In the early '70s, when the
U.S. national ping-pong team visited
Beijing, many saw the competition as a lead-
in to President Nixon's famous diplomacy
with Communist China. The two situations
are clearly very different, but some hold out
hope that Sunday's game will be the herald
of improved relations between the two coun-
tries. As Peter Angelos was quoted in The
London Times: "If this leads to an improve-
ment in relations between our two countries,
and ultimately much greater contact between
our two people, certainly the Major Leagues
and the Orioles, and millions of Americans,
would be delighted."
While it is unlikely that a baseball game
will significantly affect U.S. foreign policy,
any event that improves the cultural dialogue
between the two countries and encourages
Americans to further their understanding of
our Caribbean neighbors will be a step in the
right direction.
Cuba remains the last Cold War enemy of
the United States and it has been the site of
some of this century's most tense political
moments. The importance of Sunday's game
was largely symbolic, just as baseball itself
represents so much to both countries involved.
In Cuba, the game's political implications are
bard to deny: in 1959, Fidel Castro's Barbudos
(Beards) played a game against the West team
led by Ernesto "Che" Guevara, after the two
leaders had driven Fulgencio Batista from
power. The recent death of Joe DiMaggio in
America demonstrated how powerfully the
game has left its impression on our collective
consciousness and sense of national identity.
As the Baltimore Orioles met the Cuban
nationals in a spirited competition in Havana
last week, one could almost perceive - if
only for a brief, flashing instant - the tran-
scendent mythology of baseball banishing
years of raging international strife from its
dmann_chnne hnAnre

Activists on campus
will continue to be
heard
TO THE DAILY:
Too often in the Daily, articles and let-
ters are written that attempt to make an
argument by attacking and insulting those
who hold opposing views. Branden Sanz's
column in the Mar. 29 edition
("Ignorance, naivete and plain old stupid-
ity - the 'U"') is a perfect example. The
author lumps all those who fight against
the death penalty, demand a living wage
for sweatshop workers, are environmen-
talists, oppose the bombing of Iraq,
Kosovo or oppose U.S. imperialism and
declares that they "don't know shit about
life."
I'll agree that I don't personally know
anyone who works in a sweatshop or any-
one who has lived through NATO/U.S.
bombing and sanctioning of their country.
However, one does not have to look far to
see the effects of poverty and despair to
know that it is very real. Those of us who
"don't know shit about life" are attempt-
ing to point out that humanity cannot in
good consciousness continue to support a
society that promotes a system where
people are forced to live under such dire
conditions.
The fact that there are bad people in
the world or that "the world is not fair"
does not justify poverty or war. Sanz
claims that a lack of common sense or a
real understanding of the issues is the
cause for this apparent stupidity on the
part of activists. Has he ever stopped to
actually communicate and share ideas
with one of the people he attacks? They
have usually spent large amounts of time
and effort educating themselves.
Does he think that Students
Organizing for Labor and Economic
Equality was able to go in and make their
demands on the simple premise that they
don't think sweatshops are nice? Does he
think that no one who lives in the com-
munities affected by poverty and war are
fighting to end their oppression? It is not
naivete that drives many of us to educate
ourselves and fight against the atrocities
in the world, it is the fact that we are
aware that drives us.
The University provides an excellent
forum for people of different views to share
those views, but Sanz prefers not to
acknowledge the validity of any views that
are not his own. We are here to gain our
voice in this world, and whether or not Sanz
approves, we will continue to be heard.
ELIZABETH HAMILTON
SNRE JUNIOR
'Chess' review did
not give play
enough credit
TO THE DAILY:
This plav review was extremely

cast of Chess ("'Chess' dull to watch,"
3/29/99). I was present at the Sunday
matinee showing and felt the performance
was phenomenal as well as the message
about life and the Cold War that it shared.
The play's cast, director, stage managers
and other persons involved in this produc-
tion invested much time, effort and heart
into this weekend's performance and do
not deserve this incredulous critique.
It is not fair to those involved with the
performanceto say their dedication was
completely and utterly uninspired and
worthless to the community.
Granted, there were a few problems
with sound, lighting and set changes, but
not enough to overwhelmingly affect the
entire performance. For instance, the lead
characters' voices were beautiful, strong
and in tune. So much emotion and
strength was portrayed through their
words and body language that only one
who was unattentive would miss the qual-
ity of their performances. '
To say that Freddie was "the only
character to capture the audiences' atten-
tion" is a bit short sighted. The struggles
within and between characters, such as
Anatoli's wife's visit and Walter's desper-
ate greed for money, sparked audience
interest much more than Freddie's rebel-
lious antics. The tension on stage when
the two women, Florence and Svetlana,
meet in the same restaurant and then enter
the terrace together, alone, was superb
and yet frightening - after all, what does
one say to the woman who takes her hus-
band away?
Furthermore, the interactions between
characters was suspenseful yet fascinat-
ing. When Anatoli first toucles Florence,
a heart skips a beat. One asks if the
American Florence can really betray her
best friend and fall in love with a Russian
opponent - only to be answered by a
kiss. Then, when Florence sees her father
again after 18 years, she is apprehensive
and untrusting - could this really be
him? Her silence and still actions hold the
audience in dreadful anticipation until her
hand enters the soft yellow light, reaching
for the fragile, welcoming reach of her
father.
This play as a whole did not deserve
the review that it received. Unfortunately,
those who did not get a chance to see it
could only catch a glimpse of it through

hopes of restoring the confidence of the
cast and crew of "Chess" and to reiterate
that there were people who did thorough-
ly enjoy the production and were equally
grateful for an entertaining and enlighten-
ing three hours.
KRISTIE AIUTO
ENGINEERING JUNIOP
Mass e-mail does
not promote
student bonding
TO THE DAILY:
This is in response to Joel Snyder's let-
ter defending e-mail group lists ("Mass e-
mail can help bring students together"
(3/26/99).
I went to Andover and heard about this
cheerful list. Funny, I did not see any of the
aforementioned bonding going on: I saw the
nerds from Andover letting the popular peo-
ple know how much they sucked.
The first response to a solicitation by,*
some student government candidates was
hate mail from one of the nerds saying,
"you never liked me and I never liked you."
I can feel the bonding, Joel. As a
result of the vindictive mail, a flurry of
responses arose. And because most of the
people were in the College of Literature,
Science and the Arts, they checked "yes"
when asked "Reply to all recipients?"
Soon enough, warfare ensued between
different factions, those factions being
the people who were cool at Andover, the
people who were nerds at Andover and
the people who just liked to piss people
off.
This is all because some MSA candi-
dates wanted some extra votes. You readers
say, Justin, you sound bitter. No, I'm not
bitter at all my pals from high school. Hell,
the love was so deep between me and my
high school buddies that I did not even
make the cut to be on this "buddy" list. I
heard about it from a friend. So Joel, until
people use these lists with proper etiquette,
I am not sold on their benefits.
In. closing, I hope no one takes this per-
sonally.
JUSTIN ADAMS

mc~xr o 0ots~
- ULJ U Cs l 9 {-ulju-@ OM~ck. ech

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