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July 19, 1999 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-07-19

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Monday, July 19, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 5

Ve W POIN u
Bottom line: more to the Demetrius Smith stogy

A reader called to my atten-
tion that my story ("Smith's ath-
letic scholarship terminated,"
7/6/99) led him to believe it was
only about another "thug" who
got into trouble. Because of cer-
tain legal and ethical constraints,
the article was written as bare-
boned, and accurate, as possible.
After receiving the feedback,
d owever, I think it's time to start
utting some meat back on those
bones.
This is probably not the first
occasion that an athlete has been
portrayed as "troubled" without
all the facts coming to light.
Therefore, a little background
information is in order. This way,
everyone interested in Michigan
football can be privy to the same
story I got when I visited
Demetrius' home in Calumet
Wark, Illinois. Everyone will be
able to sit on his mother's light-
blue couch and look at
Demetrius' pictures on the wall.
She, and they, tell the real
story.
While playing football in
high school, Demetrius took
advantage of everything his
eventual 6-foot-2, 245-pound
*rame would give him. He
excelled on the field, and in the
classroom - the many awards
he received throughout the years
speak to that.
He also spent a lot of time
meeting and talking with chil-
dren, which he still does. All the
while, Demetrius managed to
avoid any problems with the law,
according to his mother.
When the time finally came,
se was recruited by many of the
top programs in the nation. They
included Tennessee, Notre
Dame, Northwestern and Ohio
State, to name a few.
I'm sure Michigan head
coach Lloyd Carr knew all about
this when he traveled to the south
side of Chicago a little more than

two years ago to recruit
Demetrius.
Surprisingly, Carr hasn't
spoken to Demetrius' parents,
Diane and Robert, since. From
then on, any contact was made
via offensive coordinator Mike
Debord, whom the family
believes is forced to do whatever
is instructed by Carr.
It was Debord that told Diane
Smith her son's scholarship had
been terminated, without credi-
ble reason - or any reason at all,
for that matter.
On June 23, allegations of a
six-person embezzlement ring
from an Ypsilanti K-mart sur-
faced. Smith's name was includ-
ed - as well as two other
Michigan football players- and
the story quickly became nation-
al news. Five days later, Diane
Smith received a phone call from
Debord. She said Debord told
her "they no longer wanted him
(Demetrius ) on the team," and
as a result, his athletic aid would
be withdrawn.
Common sense asks, why
wouldn't a "student-athlete" (a
position interpreted as vulnera-
ble by many universities, and the
NCAA, in a ploy to protect
them) be given the simple cour-
tesy of notification in person?
Would the athletic depart-
ment have handled it differently
if the incident involved a starting
player (i.e. - James Whitley) on
the chopping block? Just check
next season's roster, as well as
local police records for the
answer to that one.
So what was the big problem
with Demetrius Smith? The only
proven problem was that, during
spring practice, he was indefi-
nitely suspended by the team.
The athletic department said it
was because of "team rule viola-
tions." Although they would not
elaborate on what rules Smith
violated.

As far as the recent embez-
zlement incident is concerned -
after a three-week investigation
by the Washtenaw County
Sheriffs office - Demetrius
remains as guilty of stealing
from K-mart as you and I.
Sadly, the same can't be said
of the other two players involved,
as they have already been issued
felony warrants for their arrests.
Since receiving the school's
official letter of notification,
Demetrius' family has regularly
been trying to contact Athletic
Director Tom Goss for some
answers. All they want is a sim-
ple explanation - not second
hand information.
Bruce Madej, the
University's associate athletic
director for media relations,
told me that Mr. Goss would be
responding to the family's plea.
So far, it hasn't happened. And
I don't see it happening.
Now Demetrius finds him-
self in a position that is utterly
familiar to too many athletes in
college; on the outside looking
in.
On July 7, The Daily
Southtown - a subsidiary of
The Chicago Sun Times -
printed a story about how the
local star from Richards High
School had his Michigan foot-
ball scholarship taken away.
Whether Demetrius' neigh-
bors will ever hear how his story
plays out is anyone's call. Most
likely, they probably won't. And
that, deplorably, is a result of a
system that doesn't consider
anything other than the bottom
line.
"They ruined my life,"
Demetrius said during a phone
conversation recently.
This, to me, seems to be the
real bottom line.
- This viesrpoint was writ-
ten by Daily sports witer
Steve Rom.

When time - or at least the media - stands still
SW e live in a media-controlled culture that possibly America's most popular president,
is obsessed with celebrity. whose name is mentioned every time my birth-
Sure, it's shallow and can be misleading - day, Nov. 22, rolls around. The man who
but that's what my generation has grown up inspired thousands of college-aged students,
with and its implications don't disturb me as both then and now. The man whose death
much as they probably should. I fight for the deserved the media stand-still and "where I
latest copy of low-brow People magazine when was when I heard the news" moments etched
waiting at the hairdresser's. I watch into the memories of nearly everyone
anything on the no-brow E! televi- alive at the time.
sion network with little shame. With the disappearance of a son, it
And I've been watching a whole is a little bit harder to remember the
lot about John F. Kennedy, Jr's dis- * father. So who can blame the media for
appearance into the unforgiving being melodramatic. There's no empir-
Atlantic Ocean, where he, his gor- ical way to measure the "importance"
geous wife (for the record: bottle of news, and celebrity culture rules.
blond) and her sister met near-cer- I was not alive when president
tain death. Kennedy was shot. I did not witness
Virtually every television station his son's infamous salute first-hand,
has cleared its schedule to broadcast EMILY JFK Jr.'s disappearance does not
endless footage of fruitless coast ACHENBAUM remind me of his father.
guard boats as TV anchors wait tire- DIAMON t IN As I get sucked into the reports
lessly for any tidbit of news. It's iI 1 on 1o sprinkled with commentaries by
incredibly monotonous and overdone William Safire on the Kennedy family
- but oddly fascinating. "curse," the discussions of east coast weather
What kind of person do you have to be - and flying visibility and JFK's mediocre
what kind of life do you have to live - in order grades at Brown, I am struck more by the loss
for your death to garner undivided national of potential. It is hard to believe that human
attention? life is fragile. Itsis hard for me to think that I
There are very few public figures which I won't live to be eighty and that all my family
think have enough clout to validate total dom- members and friends won't live that long as
ination of television. John-John wasn't one of well.
them. Like his father, JFK was so young and so
He had, in some senses, barely begun to live full of potential - poised in a position to make
his life. Unlike many of his relatives, he was an impact on the rest of the world with his life
not a politician, and did not have a glorified - only to be snatched away.
history of public service. JFK Jr. launched a I may not remember the day JFK was
magazine, gave speeches, married well - he announced missing. But I will remember the
was successful, but not truly outstanding. loss of what could have been - human poten-
What seems to be troubling our country the tial, never allowed to take full flight.
most is not the specific loss of JFK but of the - Emily Achenbam can be reached via
link he provided to the past - to his father, e-mail at emilylsa@umich.edu.
China bomb announcement elicits fear for future
One of the most interesting things about race. American scientists began serious neutron
humans is that the same qualities that make bomb research in the 1970's but Jimmy Carter
us what we are can simultaneously separate us pulled the plug on the project in 1978. When
from ourselves. The ability to think technologi- Reagan came to power, he decided that the neu-
cally is the first of these things that comes to tron bomb did indeed have a place in his vision of
mind - most of our greatest achievements and the United States' future and he resurrected the
follies have been technological. This past week program in 1981.
was particularly noteworthy in the cata- Being relatively ignorant with
logue of human triumphs and failures: regards to the respective arguments for
On the 'glass is half-full' side: The nuclear deterrence and disarmament, I
periodical Science reported that scien- don't really feel qualified to advocate a
tists at the Hewlett-Packard Co. and the solution to the problem. I just hope one
University of California-Los Angeles . side is right, and that the right side wins.
have figured out a way to make com- Otherwise young people, perhaps with
puter components on a molecular level the help of the life-prolonging practices
using a chemical process. The research medical science will yield in the coming
might eventually lead to machines with years, will live looking forward to a few
100 billion times the computing power nuclear holocausts of at least
of today's best personal computers. NICK Hiroshima/Nagasaki proportions in
On the 'glass is half-empty' side: A WOOMER their lifetimes.
Chinese Government angered by the 1, -i) With the glaring exception of math-
United States' allegations that it had i ''N ) ematical proofs, there seems to be a rule
stolen our nuclear secrets released a that once someone figures out how to
statement saying that it had developed the neu- do something, eventually a lot more people will
tron bomb or "enhanced radiation" device. This is be able to do the same thing. Can anyone honest-
a weapon that is detonated above a target and kills ly expect that a human will never be cloned?
all living things under it with a massive dose of There are people who are already planning to do
radiation within a radius twice the sze of that of it. Likewise, can anyone really expect only a
a standard ten kiloton nuke. The "benefit" of a select few responsible super-powers to develop
neutron bomb is that it only destroys living things nukes? It is just plain naive to think that at least a
- weapons and buildings can usually withstand few rogue nations won't be able to do what we did
the blast. more than 50 years ago 50 years from now. I don't
So instead of building telescopes to exploring care how intense the developed world's scrutiny is
the universe or curing diseases, many of the cen- or how many embargoes it places.
tury's finest scientific minds have taken up the Not to be a fearmonger, but this appears to be
noble task of figuring out how to build a bomb one of those situations where there really isn't
that kills exclusively other people on a mass much to protest or complain about. Pandora's
scale. Box may very well have already been opened-
It would be real nice to blame it all on the you just have to sit, wait and see what happens.
Chinese, but the fact of the matter is that their - Nick Woomer can be reached via e-mail at
efforts are just aresponse to ours during the arms nwooer@umich.edus.

" i'
-
[SEND LETTERS TO TUE EDITOR TO daily.Letters@umich.cdu.

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