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February 16, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-16

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4A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 16, 2004

OPINION

420 MAYNARD STREET
UANN ARBOR, MI 48109
opinion .mchignaily.com
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
The two defining
events for this year have
been the State of the
Union and
the 'Meet the Press'
interview, and both have
been colossal failures."
- A Republican election strategist, speaking
on condition of anonymity,
explaining why President Bush is set to
begin an aggressive campaign, as
reported yesterday in The New York Times.

SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX

Lamenting the loss of an American institution
JOEL HOARD OT YEAH?

"People will come,
Ray. The one constant
through all the years,
Ray, has been baseball.
America has rolled by
like an army of steam-
rollers. It has been
erased like a black-
board, rebuilt and
erased again. But base-
ball has marked the time. This field, this
game: It 's a part of our past, Ray. It
reminds of us of all that once was good,
and it could be again. Oh, people will
come, Ray. People will most definitely
come.
i dt's been 15 years since I first saw
"Field of Dreams" and heard James
Earl Jones intone those lovely words,
but they still get me every time. I've never
cried during a movie, but whenever I hear
that speech, I come awfully close. One of
these times I'll lose it. You see, I've long
held a romantic notion that baseball is
America's lifeblood, the one constant in an
otherwise chaotic world. Baseball is the
national pastime for a reason; it holds a
special place in our collective heart.
At least it used to. As Sean McAdam
writes on ESPN.com, "More out of habit
than anything else, we still refer to base-
ball as the national pastime." Now baseball
is somewhat of a relic, something Ameri-
cans hold in their minds not because they
necessarily enjoy it or appreciate it, but
because it's a part of our national identity.
It's a lot like the national anthem: It holds
true significance to but a few; to the rest

it's something we pretend to care about for
the sake of our nation's wellbeing.
I consider myself among those few who
still relish baseball for the institution it
once was. It's one of the few things that
get me through the winter doldrums. The
second the first snow starts to fall, I
remind myself: Just wait until March.
Baseball will be back. The snow will melt;
the grass will turn green; and the boys of
summer will return. No matter how hard I
try to escape it, I have to face the fact that
I'll always be just a dorky white guy. I can
explain the infield fly rule and why it
exists. I can tell you how slugging percent-
age is calculated. I can give you Ty Cobb's
lifetime batting average. I can write you a
5,000-word essay on how the A-Rod-to-
the-Yankees trade is the best/worst thing to
ever happen to baseball.
Call me a baseball junkie, which is why
I felt a pang of sadness when I read
McAdam's piece. Because football - and
not baseball - as he explains, is Ameri-
ca's sport of choice in 2004. To be sure,
it's not a novel idea that football has
replaced baseball as the national pastime.
Even the most casual and uninformed fan
can tell you that football now dominates
the American sports landscape.
It would be easy to blame it all on base-
ball itself. The players and owners are
greedy and constantly at odds, and there
may or may not be a steroid epidemic.
But most of the blame falls with mod-
ern American society. We are a people
obsessed with violence and anger, and we
like cheap thrills and flashiness. It's a fact
that's reflected in our preference of foot-

ball to baseball. We turn to football for
release. We relish in its violence.
Not that there's anything necessarily
wrong with that. I enjoy football as much
as the next guy, but it can never be the
intellectual pursuit that baseball is. After
watching a baseball game, I feel enlight-
ened, and the world makes a little bit more
sense. After watching a football game, I
feel stupider, and I crave raw meat.
The contrast between the two sports
was perhaps best described by Washington
Post columnist Thomas Boswell in a piece
he wrote in 1987: "Football is played best
full of adrenaline and anger. Moderation
seldom finds a place. Almost every act of
baseball is a blending of effort and con-
trol; too much of either is fatal."
But Americans no longer desire moder-.
ation and restraint. The very mention of
the concepts is enough to make most peo-
ple cringe. How else can we explain why
the football championship game has such a
gaudy word as "super" in its name?
Unfortunately, this has become a nation
of meatheads. Americans don't want to
think about anything on any level, espe-
cially not when they're watching sports.
There's no other place in the world where
guys like Terry Bradshaw and Sean Salis-
bury would be labeled "analysts."
I hope that one day the average Ameri-
can will come to appreciate baseball's
refinement and sophistication once again.
But for now I'm left to ask, what happened
to my country?

Hoard can be reached at
j.ho@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Language requirement
comes too late to make a real
difference for students
TO THE DAILY:
I am in full agreement with Dan Adams's
proposal to abolish the language requirement
(Estoy enojado, 02/11/04) but I believe he
fails to address some of the most important
reasons to do so.
First, college is simply too late to force
the language burden on people. If someone
hasn't learned a language by the time he is a
first-year student, the odds he will learn it in
subsequent years are not worth the effort the
University invests in attempting to teach him.
While proponents of the requirement point
out that other countries always teach their
students English, they do so starting in ele-
mentary school or earlier. If Americans are
going to learn another language, it needs to
happen long before college - the current
program simply doesn't work well.
Related to this first problem is the issue of
fairness. Every other requirement the University
imposes on students is universal. No matter how
much attention I paid to natural sciences in high
school, I still have to take at least seven credits
when I arrive at the University. The same is true
for every student in every requirement, except in
language. Consequently, students who have
learned a language early in life or had access to
a high quality language program in primary or
secondary school have a diminished require-
ment load compared to students without these
advantages.
Finally, there is the illogical nature of the
claim by language requirement proponents
that language is too important a skill to neg-
lect in modern society. While this claim is
certainly true - if exaggerated in extent -
it is alsoutrue that more important skills have
no requirements at all, let alone the four
semesters of language students are forced to
take. All students should know how to use a
computer, compute interest payments and
speak effectively in public, but these issues
receive only indirect attention at best. Like
Adams, I have no problem with the language
departments, but I do take issue with an
unfair, illogical and ineffective language
requirement.
DYLAN KEENAN
LSA freshman
n -n , ] s irn , rM ,,Ye

entrepreneurs, and he advocates the elimi-
nation of these laws.
Suppose you are an upstart entrepreneur
with a revolutionary new idea. Without any
intellectual property laws to protect your
idea, someone with established economic
power could just copy it and bring it to mar-
ket without giving you a single dime. So
instead of being rewarded for your idea,
you are forced to either starve or work for
one of the "rich industrialists" that Paul
mentions. Then the next time you come up
with an idea, perhaps you'll keep it to your-
self because.there's no point in making the
rich even richer. Or you won't have time to
come up with a new idea because you're
working in a factory.
The problem with Paul's proposed solu-
tion of eliminating intellectual property
laws is that it removes the economic incen-
tive for innovation, invention and creativi-
ty. And contrary to his belief that the only
purpose of the laws is to protect the eco-
nomic elite, they also protect the rights of
people with new ideas against that same
economic elite. I agree with Paul that the
recording industry is not deserving of pity.
However, the best way to avoid handing
your hard earned money to the recording
industry is to buy songs directly from the
musicians. The technology to allow this
kind of purchase already exists, and hope-
fully musicians will begin to cut the
recording industry out of the loop. Elimi-
nating the only protection that musicians
have against the theft of their music, as
Paul advocates, will only make the things
worse.
VIKAs REDDY
Engineering sophomore
roups' accts show they don't
understand V-Day meaning
To THE DAILY:
Last Friday, campus activists gathered
on the Diag as part of a week-long cele-
bration of V-day. V-day is an international
campaign whose purpose is to raise aware-
ness about violence against women. The
American Movement for Israel and the
Jewish Women's Forum apparently missed
that point. While condoms bearing the slo-
gan "Israel, it's still safe to come" distrib-
uted by these groups are certainly clever,
they have no relevance to V-day, or to end-

and Palestinian women in Israel. Perhaps a
more appropriate handout would have
included information about abuse of
women within Israel and Palestine. For
example, Palestinian women under occu-
pation are often subject to abuse from the
Israeli Army, including sexual harassment
and rape. Within Israel, the increased mili-
tarization of Israeli society has contributed
to a rise in domestic violence and rape
rates in the past few years. In the United
States, approximately one in five women
will be raped in her lifetime, and in Israel,
one in three women will be sexually
assaulted. Whitewashing the situation for
women in Israel is incredibly naive and
undermines the purpose of V-Day in its
efforts to end violence against women
worldwide.
ABBY HAUSLOHNER
LSA junior
SHOsH RUSKIN
LSA senior
Ruskin and Hauslohner are co-chairs of
the Progressive Arab Jewish Alliance
Article headline creates
misconception of Protest
TO THE DAILY:
The title of the article "Gratz speaks at
Union amidst massive protest" is mislead-
ing. I was studying at the Michigan Union
at the time of the protest and went to the
lobby to see what was going on. There
were far fewer than 50 people there, even
at the peak. There were less than 10 people
actually yelling outside the door of the
Pond Room. The rest of the people in the
lobby were curious onlookers waiting to
see something interesting happen. This
was not at all a "massive" protest. If I am
able to studyhin a roomjust a few feet
from where this was taking place it could
not possibly be "massive." The title is dis-
respectful to all truly "massive" and
important protests that have taken place on
this campus and in this country.
MICHAEL ROHDE
LSA junior

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