Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Standing Out

This case is a reminder about the dangers of overgeneralization. “The mainstream media is all bad.” Can anyone equate how Joe Neff covered the case with Duff Wilson’s approach? “Civil rights leaders abandoned their principles.” Can anyone equate Jim Coleman’s response with that of Irving Joyner? “TV covered the case in a shallow fashion.” Can anyone equate 60 Minutes with Nancy Grace?

A similar need for specific analysis occurs in dealing with sports journalists. John Feinstein, Mike Wise, and Mark Purdy have been embarrassing in their work. Yet Aaron Beard covered not only the sports angle of the case exceedingly well, but also was the lead reporter for AP’s solid coverage. And Jason Whitlock was one of the first journalists—of any specialty—to identify the correct storyline for the case.

A sensational column by Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel should be added to the work of Beard and Whitlock. In a week when so many sports reporters seemed to be writing the exact same story (the party was bad, the players aren’t choirboys), Wetzel produced a column that stood out, by introducing readers to an aspect of the players’ personal experience over the past 15 months that has received almost no attention from the national media.

His thesis? “This was a team, in many ways, without a school because it was a school, in many ways, that didn’t want a team. Some faculty members still don’t want it, no matter the dropped charges, the exposed lies and the track record of model behavior since.”

Co-captain Matt Danowski offered one of the most perceptive comments I’ve seen on the situation that the players faced:

We weren’t winning for Duke itself. We weren’t winning for the faculty. We weren’t winning for the students. We were winning for ourselves. It sounds cliché, but at one point all we had was 41 guys and our family. We didn’t have student support. We didn’t have faculty support. It was really just about us.

Danowski’s father, head coach John Danowski, analyzed the faculty’s responses to the allegations last spring: “It was an opportunity for people to move their agendas along. That’s the world. The world is about politics. It’s not about right and wrong or truth.”

As Wetzel noted, “There have been few apologies, fewer retractions. Not from fellow students, not from professors, not from administrators.” To my knowledge, a total of two Duke professors have apologized for their response to the case—Arlie Petters for signing the Group of 88’s statement, Thomas Crowley for submitting an inaccurate op-ed to the Herald-Sun.

Two other Group members privately apologized to lacrosse players, only to, incredibly, retract their apologies by signing the “clarifying” statement, which asserted that the signatories would not apologize for signing the Group of 88 ad. No other Group member has apologized—and many have said they’d do it all over again. The only apology from an administrator came after John Burness’ ill-founded attack on the players’ character on the eve of the innocent proclamation.

In the end, Wetzel (who actually talked to coaches and players on the team, unlike Wise, Feinstein, or Purdy) found out that the players, mostly

just wanted to be a team, even if some players no longer trusted, loved or had pride in the school on the front of their jerseys.

So here on a warm day in Maryland, in front of a record crowd of 48,443 and a national television audience, they were just that—a team trying to be the best team in all the land.

Despite a furious (what else?) comeback, it didn’t happen. A group of men who attend the same school lost a lacrosse game here Monday.

That school had lost a lot more than that a long time ago.

Most people, I think, retain a type of “Mr. Chips” attitude toward the professoriate—that perhaps we’re eccentric, maybe a little bit out of touch, but that we chose our profession because we like working with students. No one who reads Wetzel’s article can conclude that the professors he quoted have such a mission.

41 comments:

Michael said...

For those young people that have followed this case, I think they will be just a little more skeptical around their professors in future years lest they get some of these nuts as professors.

They've tainted their profession though fortunately, they are a small group in a much larger pond.

It reminds me of the effect that Nifong has had on the ability of prosecutors to do their jobs.

dmac614 said...

I am curious why there has not been more about Mike Nifong knowing the Mangum family. Could you explain?

Anonymous said...

That is from the conspiracy folk. There was some kind of LE involvement with Crystal and her family years ago. Now, like so many other things in this case, has evolved into the grassy knoll,

Anonymous said...

It's a great article, but it seems like he borrowed lots of points from KC's blog (and quoted him directly) with some interviews of the players and coach thrown in. Is that worthy of a disclaimer or full-disclosure statement when praising Wetzel's work? Maybe not, just wondering out loud.

Wegl Wegl said...

A nagging issue throughout this entire debacle is the troubling concept that 18-22 year old young men are to be held to a higher standard of behavior & judgment than a District Attorney, than a University President, than a Board of Trustees, than 88+ Professors, than Editors & Reporters, than Department Chairs, than elected Officials, than any community activist, than ANYONE else involved in this entire fiasco.

Growing into maturity comes from making decisions and yes making occasional mistakes and then (hopefully) learning from those mistakes.

Anonymous said...

And to think that the coward Brodhead had the nerve to show up for the finals even though he has been gutless in this whole matter.
Duke indeed has lost much more than a lacrosse championship. Duke has lost its soul.

Anonymous said...

2:13 wrote: "It's a great article, but it seems like he borrowed lots of points from KC's blog (and quoted him directly) with some interviews of the players and coach thrown in."

As far as I am concerned, the more widely circulated info from this blog becomes the better. Everyone benefits from exposure to actual facts, evidence, and coherent reasoning.

Anonymous said...

"And to think that the coward Brodhead had the nerve to show up for the finals even though he has been gutless in this whole matter."

I trust even someone as supremely stupid as Brodhead didn't make the mistake of approaching the players or entering the locker room. What a prick.

Michael said...

[I trust even someone as supremely stupid as Brodhead didn't make the mistake of approaching the players or entering the locker room. What a prick.]

We don't know what Brodhead would have done had Duke won the game. I would guess that he'd be interviewed at the least.

Anonymous said...

wegl,

the players should be held to a high standard of behavior; they are scholarship athletes, representing a university that costs others hundreds of thousands to attend. their drinking, carousing and past offenses should not be explained away, as kc johnson continuously has done, as students being students, or boys being boys. had nifong done what he should have, drop the charges as soon as he realized there was no case to build, that wouldn't have excused the team's collective record brought to light by a rogue, lying dancer.

Anonymous said...

3:12 What a pain in the ^^^, "But they peed off the porch" crowd are to most folk. Give it up - it is just stupid to write this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Regarding President Brodhead's appearance at the finals, isn't it possible that he was showing support for the team? I can't see any other way to read this, actually.

More importantly, while I understand that many people are angry with him and angry at how he handled the entire case, can you really berate him for not supporting the players on the one hand, and then on the other hand condemn him when he does? It just seems that there needs to be a little balance shown here.

No matter your take on the case I don't think that very many people consider Brodhead "evil" (unlike Nifong), so why damn all his actions, no matter what they are?

bill anderson said...

I trust even someone as supremely stupid as Brodhead didn't make the mistake of approaching the players or entering the locker room. What a prick.

May 29, 2007 2:22:00 PM


Brodhead, it seems, went to where the parents were sitting, made one of them move, and then sat down in their midst. When informed that he really was not welcome in that gathering, he said that he was the president of Duke, which apparently is a special dispensation that permits him to do what he wants.

We are dealing with people who have no conscience. Is it not interesting that people still are vilifying the LAX players when the people in authority have been much worse?

gtp said...

3:12 - They are not "scholarship" athletes. The NCAA allows a D1 Lacrosse team 12.6 full scholarships. It is up to the program to use that allotment as they see fit. Most teams will have several (3-5) players on a full ride, the remaining 40 or so players get the balance.

It is also likely that a large percentage of the team doesn't get any money. What standard of behavior should those non-scholarship athletes be held to?

Anonymous said...

3:37 That does not sound right. Brodhead may not be a stand up guy, but he is a gentleman. Can not imagine his putting himself in a position like that. How could he make anyone move, unless they were in his ticked seat,

Anonymous said...

Curious - Did the tickets at the game have a seat assignment or just General Admission?

Anonymous said...

3:12 --

How newsworthy is it that even young adults who are attending college on athletic scholarships make the same mistakes that numerous young adults without athletic scholarships make? How many column-inches does it deserve? How much national television coverage should it get? "their drinking, carousing and past offenses should not be explained away, as kc johnson continuously has done, as students being students, or boys being boys." Are you trying to tell us that if you went from coast to coast, you could not find another group of 41 scholarship students who had also engaged in drinking, made some excessive noise, hired strippers for a party? Or are you trying to say that if the news media were ever to discover such a group of 41 students, they would descend upon them like hawks and obsessively trash their names as the Duke lacrosse players are still having theirs trashed?

What is being done to the Duke lacrosse players now, including by you, 3:12, is nothing more than old familiar victim-blaming. "Well, sure, that young woman was assaulted and violated by a conscience-less predator who cold-bloodedly violated her for his own sexual gratification -- but, but, she probably brought it on herself by the way she was dressed!" "Well, sure, those young men were slandered and vilified across the nation because of a conscience-less district attorney who cold-bloodedly framed them for his own political ambition -- but, but, they probably brought it on themselves by 'drinking and carousing'!" Think well about the company you want to keep, 3:12, before throwing in with all the others who seek excuses to keep bad-mouthing the lacrosse players.

wayne fontes said...

To Wegl @ 3:12

My understanding is that there Are only 12-15 scholarships divided up among the 40 plus players. If you feel that any one receiving benefits from Duke has to maintain a high standard of behavior how do you feel about Sebrina Sebring who lied on national TV? I believe she is on a full ride scholarship.

I assume the bar must be set even higher for paid employees of Duke such as Kim Curtis and Wahneema Lubiano.

Anonymous said...

It's possible Pres. Broadhead has learned from his mistakes... and is trying to mend fences. Understandable that he has a long way to go, but I agree you can't fault him for trying. If any of that actually happened. He knows what he is doing by showing up at an important event like yesterdays game. The whole school has to move forward and diplomacy is necessary on all sides at this point for that to happen.
I do hope the families sue the school for legal expenses though. I'd love hear that some of the g88 loose their jobs> the students can effect that by not signing up for their classes and refusing to have them as advisors.
I really look ahead now though and can't wait to hear about the sucesses of the Reid and Collin when they graduate from other institutions as outstanding scholars and atheletes. Dave has to always have the Duke mantel, for better or worse. But I'm glad he is on the road to sucess as well. God speed! You weatherd the storm.

Anonymous said...

3:50 and 3:53--the seats for the final were ticketed. And, actually, a lot of people were sitting in the wrong seats (usually better than their own) and had to move when the ticket holders arrived.

However, I don't know whether arrangements were different in the section of seats allotted to and distributed through Duke University, rather than generally through the NCAA. My guess is they were ticketed also.

locomotive breath said...

I recall reading at some point in the N&O that Duke had 12 scholarships divided among 24 players.
-----------------
If Brodhead wants to mend fences he can start by acknowleging what did and apologize. I imagine that amongst the Duke parents he was as welcome as OJ Simpson at a Brown family reunion.

One Spook said...

KC writes:
This case is a reminder about the dangers of overgeneralization. “The mainstream media is all bad.” Can anyone equate how Joe Neff covered the case with Duff Wilson’s approach?

The mainstream media is clearly not "all bad" but there is a significant amount of documented proof that it is definitely biased.

Joe Neff is a member of the "traditional media" but he could hardly be accused of being the "mainstream media." That desination is reserved for the very biased, left-leaning New York Times, Washington Post, and their emulaters.

As is often the case, Times reporter Wilson's article was taken as gospel by many other publications who haven't the resources, desire, or ability to do primary research and come to their own conclusions. Columnists for most newspapers write 600 words per week and believe that they have a tough job. Most good Bloggers, yourself included, write that much in a day.

In a smilar fashion, publications also rely on the AP for the same reason.

This practice and this bias has been uncovered by thousands of Bloggers on a plethora of subjects.

Your comments seem to imply that you have just woken up to this fact because you read very biased reporting about a subject on which you have done a tremendous job of research and writing.

This disconnect between the truth and what the mainstream media peddles is one of the major reasons Blogs exist ... because those who know and/or are willing to uncover the facts and truth about a particular subject have no voice in the mainstream media.

Most legitimate Bloggers today had, in the past, answered reporter's inquiries, submitted letters to the editor, and wrote op-ed pieces ad infinitum, only to be ignored by the mainstream media.

Welcome to the club, KC.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

3:37 Your post looks like a definite intention to deceive.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

"That school (Duke) had lost a lot more than that a long time ago."

How sad, true and unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear that Reade is going to Brown. Ironically, I think he stand a better chance at being just a student at Duke than he does at Brown. For one thing, Brown is an extraordinarily liberal school. If the students run true to form, they will have the same attitude as the Group of 88. Second, like it or not, he is highly recognizable. At Brown he will be a novelty to some, a symbol (of white male privilege) to others. At Duke, they already know him, know his story intimately and already support him.

Anonymous said...

Even Wetzel's article, though, oversimplifies--leaving the distinct impression that the lacrosse team had (and perhaps still has) little or no support within the Duke student body. As those who have followed this blog know well, that is not the case. Many Duke students believed in the players' innocence from early on (and not just the women's lax team, though they had an opportunity to be very public in their support). Many more withheld judgment, or even suspected guilt, at first but, over the summer or during the fall, saw the truth. Relatively few, I think (many of them grad students rather than undergrads), either firmly believed the players guilty or so disliked the idea they had of the players that they vilified them regardless of the facts.

Anonymous said...

the media doesn't descend on other athletes who behave badly? in what world? go check the clips after the miami football fight last season. go see what's been written and implied about black football and basketball players every time they got caught smoking dope or hanging with hookers or pissing off the porch. kc has been right on in his crusade against those who presumed these boys guilty of rape. kudos to him. he's been wrong in his revisionist defense of every transgression on the long list compiled by the university, and his attacks on anyone who disagrees on the behavioral issues have become self-serving and a tad megalomaniacal. the northwestern women's soccer team had its season canceled last year for a couple of hazing incidents caught on cell phone. time to lose the persecution complex and applaud the team for a great season.

Anonymous said...

"Most people, I think, retain a type of “Mr. Chips” attitude toward the professoriate—that perhaps we’re eccentric, maybe a little bit out of touch, but that we chose our profession because we like working with students. No one who reads Wetzel’s article can conclude that the professors he quoted have such a mission."

But they all should - and if they don't, corrective action, which is the responsibility of Duke leadership, must be developed and implemented. Failure to do so is a breach of trust.

I'm not holding my breath since breach of trust is the cornerstone of this whole mess.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 6:53 said...

...I am sorry to hear that Reade is going to Brown. Ironically, I think he stand a better chance at being just a student at Duke than he does at Brown.
::
That is a hard call as you noted.

I think the Brown Anger Studies faculty may be similar to Duke's but I'll bet they are not extremists...as they clearly are at Duke.

Perhaps the Anger Studies faculty at Brown have enough to keep them busy with injustice in the New York City area without having to 'set up' and harass their own students...for 'research' purposes.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

Gary, check out what a Brown student wrote about Brown on Seligmann at Brown thread.

Wegl Wegl said...

Anonymous 3:12 said...
"the players should be held to a high standard of behavior; they are scholarship athletes, representing a university that costs others hundreds of thousands to attend. their drinking, carousing and past offenses should not be explained away, as kc johnson continuously has done, as students being students, or boys being boys. had nifong done what he should have, drop the charges as soon as he realized there was no case to build, that wouldn't have excused the team's collective record brought to light by a rogue, lying dancer."


Never said that they shouldn't be held to a certain standard of behavior. I said they shouldn't be held to a HIGHER standard than any of the other parties I named. If they're guilty of misdemeanor behavior their punishment should be appropriate to the offense.

If a University President who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year isn't responsible for his behavior, if tenured Professors are not responsible for their actions, if Journalists and Editors are not responsible for their errors then how can you expect students to live to some unique standard?

If your comments are aimed to discuss character education then it is best to remember that character is taught by both precept and by example. During this entire fiasco how have Brodhead's actions been an example of character that should be emulated? The Group of 88's? The Duke Board of Trustees? The Durham District Attorney or any of his underlings? The Herald Sun? The Washington Post? The New York Times? ESPN? Nancy Grace? The NAACP?

Who then has shown any personal growth at all during this other than the lacrosse players?

Anonymous said...

There is a problem with NOT generalizing too. Generalization leads to abstraction, which allows us to not have to deal individually with all the myriad minor exceptions.

Here is a thought. Very shortly after this whole madness began, it was clear to anyone who looked at the evidence there was a good chance these boys were innocent.

Yet, within the sensibilities we have adopted in the far left, we come up with a decline in the value of reason, an ascendence of perspective over facts, and a horde of other evil group think attitudes, its no surprise what happened.

Anonymous said...

10:09--
Agreed, without some generalization we can't really function. The trick is to find the right balance. Generalization helps when we need to predict events or behavior, when we need to make choices without complete information, and when we want to get a first read on what we think probably happened or is happening in a situation. It's when we try to use generalizations to judge specific individuals, without consideration of individual facts and circumstances, that it leads us astray.

That being said, I don't really understand how the first part of your post applies to the rest. Do you see a failure to generalize appropriately here? How so?

Anonymous said...

KC,

Interesting that the LAX players were not playing for Duke but only for themselves. Does that mean that they will be returning all of the scholarship money?

Anonymous said...

12:10am

What a prick.

Anonymous said...

Once again, the (relative) lack of support for these guys from the Duke faculty, administration, fellow students, and alumni is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

The fact that a few journalists got the story right is not unexpected. A few academics also got it right. This blog along with other, such as John in Carolina, did serve as guideposts to the facts. A vast majority of journalists and a vast majority of tenured academics let their personal prejudices overcome any commitment to justice or trith.

America's elites don't want facts. They don't want truth. They want adoration. Being a journalist or a professor means never having to say you're sorry. The group of 88 and Brodhead feel that they performed a public service by providing the context through which the facts must be filtered. The journalistic lynch mob believe they have done nothing wrong because the afflicted the comfortable and comforted the afflicted. They, after all, know better than we peasants the higher truths that define society.

Nifong deserves to end up in jail. He might face that yet. The academic lynch mob deserve to be fired. They won't face that. In fact, their careers have been enhanced. The journalistic miscreants deserve to be disbelieved in everything they write. That won't happen either.

If there is any justice in the world, the families of the accused will sue the 88, Brodhead and Durham for about a billion dollars and win. Nothing would be fairer than the academic lynch mob members contibuting half of their earnings for life to the falsely accused.

Anonymous said...

I have to say with one or two exceptions(freshman parents who can not possibly relate) the Duke parents were NOT happy that Broadhead sat with us on Monday. There is NO way that man deserved toeven be there. I wanted to ask him if the his mode of transportation was the bus he threw the players under....

Anonymous said...

12:10- Would you feel better if the Duke team said it was playing for all the NCCU students cheering against them while watching in the dorms on Monday?

Anonymous said...

I see the point, and yet I hope Danowski and company haven't forgotten that many in the Duke community questioned the accusations (Chronicle) and stood steadfastly by the team (women's lacrosse players, many other students).

I'm sure there are complex feelings all around here. There is good and bad in any institution. There is often good and bad in individuals. But I hope everyone remembers that plenty of proud Dukies supported this team. (It's just a shame school's out of session and very few students will be on campus to greet the team.)

I think the biggest mistake made in this blog (mostly among the commenters, but sometimes KC himself) is the simplistic carving of good and evil. Everything the lacrosse players did was perfect. Everything the mainstream media did was evil -- even if that means we have to tell Joe Neff he's no longer in the mainstream media.

What was that you were saying about "overgeneralization"?

Anonymous said...

That being said, I don't really understand how the first part of your post applies to the rest. Do you see a failure to generalize appropriately here? How so?

The post says not to generalize overly regarding those who got it wrong, extending it to a general class.

I believe this is the result of leftist thought, not of individual actions. I generalize this problem as being an outgrowth of leftist thinking.