Monday, August 6, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, August 6, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Michael Phelps: gold, but not maize
Noise at the polls
E-MAIL ALICIA AT ALIMARKO@UMICH.EDU.
As the 2012 Summer Olym-
pics approached, I had
the fun task of compiling
a list of the
letes that were
the pond to
So I checked
com's roster of
all the Michi- COLLEEN
gan affiliates THOMAS
found a list of 28 names complete
with their countries, events and
affiliation with the University in a
simple table on the website.
Copy, paste, add a brief bio and
publish the story, right?
Not so fast.
-While it's important to recog-
nize that Michigan coaches going
to London put in the same amount
of time and effort into training
their athletes, it's essential to
celebrate the athletic accomplish-
ments of the student-athletes who
will run, swim and vault in the
Summer Olympics instead.
That eliminates a number of
coaches, assistant or otherwise,
leaving a handful of names. And
I thought to myself, "I wonder if
the Michigan athletic community
embraces Michael Phelps as a
Michigan athlete, since he trained
in Ann Arbor for several years."
I scrolled down to the swim-
mers and saw Phelps' name on the
list. But beside his name was his
affiliation with the University:
a volunteer coach from 2005 to
2008, not 'varsity letterwinner.'
That nixed his name from my list.
True, Phelps came to Ann
Arbor to train with coach Bob
Bowman after Bowman was hired
as the men's swimming coach in
2004. True, Phelps did enroll in
classes at the University - but not
to pursue a degree - and served
as the volunteer coach while
training with Club Wolverine
Phelps was a student, yes, but
not a student-athlete.
Phelps was never offered a
scholarship to Michigan, nor was
he ever recruited to swim for the
Wolverines. He never took to the
pool for a Big Ten meet, and he
never experienced the camara-
derie and teamwork that Peter.
Vanderkaay or Connor Jaeger felt
when they competed for national
titles in a Michigan swim cap.
So if Phelps was never actually
on the swim team despite being a
student, why should he be includ-
ed in the list of Michigan athletes
at the Olympics?
Many people and places -
including Bentley Historical
Library's page compiling the
entire list of Michigan athletes'
all-time Olympic appearances
- claim Phelps as a Wolverine,
citing his block 'M' tattoo on his
lower abdomen and his brief stint
taking classes in Ann Arbor as.
reasons why he should be a part
of the list.
It's almost like the Michigan
community is calling Phelps one
of its own just to boast the most
decorated Olympian ever as a fel-
low Wolverine. Because of that
slight connection, an average fan
or old alum can say they have a
connection to Phelps that every-
one else doesn't, and that Michi-
gan has the "leaders and best"
because Phelps is just like them
- a true Wolverine.
But Phelps wasn't among the
thousands of student-athletes
who put in innumerable hours
in the pool, not to mention the
countless hours sitting in the
Academic Center or the UGLi
doing homework. Those student-
athletes are not only training for
their Big Ten seasons, but also
working hard for a degree that
many of them will actually put to
use once their days as an athlete
I'm not trying to undermine
Phelps' athletic talent at all -
he is an exceptional athlete, no
doubt, and has achieved a feat
that will probably never come
close to being matched.
Phelps swam his way to 22
Olympic medals and countless
world records, but for the Michi-
gan fan base to claim him as one
of their own is unfair to the rest
of the true student-athletes that
don the maize and blue both in
the classroom and on the field.
- Thomas is still #TeamPhelps.
She can be reached at
email@example.com or via
Twitter : @colleenthomas_.
It seems that one cannot walk
across campus without being
approached by someone who wants
ers. I recently
tell the man
who was try-
ing to register
her that she did
not feel com-
fortable voting MATTHEW
because she feltZAK
too uninformed. ZABKA
The man then
tried to con-
vince her of how
very important it was for every sin-
gle eligible American to take advan-
tage of his or her right to vote.
Society seems to chide those who
are eligible to vote but choose not
to: P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" cam-
paign comes to mind, for example.
The stigma, however, is greatly
misplaced. The uninformed voter's
checkmark on a ballot doesn't serve
the republic, and society shouldn't
reproach uninformed non-voters.
Rather, the sigma should be against
being uninformed altogether.
In statistics, random variation
in a system - like random votes in
an election - is called "noise." This
term seems particularly appropri-
ate considering a growing percent-
age of us get our information from
biased shows, with people like Sean
Hannity or Bill Maher yelling about
how stupid they think the other
side is. The ever-louder blubbering
of these talking heads has led to
more statistical noise in elections.
The man who attempted to reg-
ister the woman directed her to a
website where she could inform
herself. His suggestion - and I am
not making this up - was President
Barack Obama's campaign website.
"Everything you need to know is
there." Yes, everything she needed
to know in order to vote exactly
how the guy wanted her to vote.
Informed voters examine issues
and support policies based on what
they think is best, but no voter
should support a policy only because
a particular candidate or political
party has adopted that policy. It's
scary to see how often a party can
take two completely opposite posi-
tions while-the party faithful hap-
pily contradict themselves.
Angry about the Iraq war, many
liberals cheered as then-Sen.
Obama declared, "The President
does not have power under the Con-
stitution to unilaterally authorize a
military attack in a'situation that
does not involve stopping an actual
or imminent threat to the nation."
After his election to the presidency,
Obamatunilaterally authorized mil-
itary attacks against Libya - and*
the same liberals then cheered!
voters are a
Not to be outdone, many conser-
vatives supported spending almost
$1 trillion to topple the dictator of an
oil-rich nation to protect civilians
while a Republican was in the White
House. The same.conservatives then
opposed spending $1 billion to top-
ple the dictator of an oil-rich nation
to protect civilians while a Demo-
crat was in the White House.
Neither the Democrats nor the
Republicans examined these issues
and made informed decisions.
Rather, they listened to their politi-
cal party's leaders and talk-show
hosts. When these leaders did a 180,
these voters followed them in lock-
step. I suppose living as one of these
party faithful would be pretty easy.
Why spend time informing yourself
when Messrs. Reid or Boehner will
tell you what to think?
Perhaps scariest is the fact that
independent thinkers are becoming
a smaller percentage of the voting
block. Some polls have indicated
that Obama and Mitt Romney are
fighting over the less than 10 per-
cent of voters who areundecided.
Meanwhile, according to Gallup,
the budget deficit is the second
most important issue in this elec-
tion. Neither Romney nor Obama
has presented a credible plan to
deal with these unsustainable defi-
cits, but incredibly 90 percent of
voters have made up their minds.
It is every American's right
to vote. There's a stigma in this
country against people who do not
exercise this right, but this makes
as much sense as chiding some-
body for not exercising his Second
Amendment rights. Americans
should instead be encouraged to
stay informed and make their own
decisions about what policies are
best. As to how to achieve this, have
you tried putting down the remote
and picking up a newspaper?
Matthew Zabka can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him
on Twitter at @MatthewZabka.
X itl.b ' .., n k.;ma
proud Iof @it4IIG(.d / Ct 1his t4ir
*Phelps! # vdo/Sr i rash! *#GzbbyDou st''
. ~SENo LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@ MICHIGANOAILY.GOM
In support ofDingell
TO THE DAILY:
Dingell stands fo
sity of Michiganz
He not only fig
gan residents as'
Michigan's auto i
Chldester, Taylor finish
summer with Team USA
By COLLEEN THOMAS
After nine days of competi-
tive softball, silver medals hung
around the necks of former Michi-
gan softball players Amanda
Chidester and Jordan Taylor.
But not Olympic silver medals.
After the International Olym-
pic Committee voted to drop base-
ball and softball from the 2012
Olympic program in 2005, things
changed in the world of softball.
Instead of the Olympics being the
peak of a softball career, Chidester
and Taylor competed for gold at
the-International Softball Federa-
tion Women's World Champion-
From July 15-22 in Whitehorse,
Yukon, Team USA battled 15 other
teams for the world title - which
came down to just one inning.
Arguably the best two teams
in softball in the past few years,
Japan and the United States took
the championship game to 10
innings, with the Japanese team
knocking off the defending cham-
pion U.S. squad in a 2-1 final.
The U.S. had outscored its oppo-
nents by 11 points throughout the
tournament, but struggled a bit in
the playoffs. The U.S. scraped by
Canada, 4-2, and beat Japan in the
semifinals, but couldn't pull off
the win in the championship.
Chidester, though, wasn't wor-
ried about the loss - Japan had
beaten them in the championship
of the Canada Cup earlier in the
summer after the -U.S. had beat
them in a previous game.
"They're a really good team
and sometimes we have to look
at the bigger picture - we've
played together for a month, and
Japan's played together all year,"
Chidester said. "It's a really big
difference. We competed with
them the whole way, and we-did
Though most of the players
from the 2011 national team were
on the roster, giving some needed
experience to the young Ameri-
can squad, many collegiate play-
ers, like Chidester, made the team
after tryouts in June.
And even though players from
rival teams made it - Oklahoma's
Keilani Ricketts and Alabama's
Jackie Traina faced each other in
the Women's College World Series
Championship games - Chidester
said there was no bitterness
"One thing he'll never forget
is (USA Softball head coach Ken
Eriksen) saying that (he) didn't
See TEAM USA, Page 9
What I found most interesting about collecting can Recovery ar
signatures for Congressman John Dingell's re- which brought o
election was the surprise on people's faces when He's also a prove
they realized he needed to re-earn his spot on the when unions acre
ballot. "How can an established representative ened. And, lastly,
not have a permanent spot on the ballot?" I was which intludes h
repeatedly asked. I understood their confusion; Species Act andc
Dingell has served under 11 U.S. presidents and on Energy and C
has proven himself as a prolific legislator. Howev- Press to name C
er, it's not just Congressman Dingell's experience "Michigan Green
that reverberates with students, but the support Through con
he has shown, both of Michigan residents and dents, I realized j
students, that makes him the ideal representative ration our comm
for Michigan's~15th.District. Representative in
Students' support of Congressman Dingell is certainly well des
unparalleled. He's championed various bills that ognize the impo:
make access to higher education more readily representative lii
available in addition to supporting bills like the them in Washing:
2010 Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, age all Michigan
which increases student's financial aid through ment that Congre
Pell Grants. Dingell proved instrumental in writ- our community a:
ing and passing the Affordable Care Act, which
protects students by placing them under their Jacob Light
parents' health care plans until the age of 26. LSA Sophomore
or students, both at the Univer-
and across our country.
ghts for students, but for Michi-
well. Dingell's strong support of
ndustry is evident in the Ameri-
nd Reinvestment Act of 2009,
ver 100,000 jobs to Michigan.
n advocate of unions, in a time
oss the country are being threat-
Dingell's environmental record,
is authorship of the Endangered
chairmanship of the Committee
ommerce, led the Detroit Free
ongressman Dingell as a 2011
ersations shared with local resi-
ust how much respect and admi-
unity has for him. As a senior
n the House, this admiration is
served. Ann Arbor residents rec-
rtance of having an experienced
ke Congressman Dingell serving
on. This Aug. 7 primary, Iencour-
students to consider the commit-
ssman John Dingell has made to
nd to re-elect him this fall.
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