Let me begin today with a situation that poses a simple question:
- What is wrong with this picture?
Issa Thiam was born and raised in Dakar, Senegal and wound up as a basketball player at Rutgers University. Back in March of this year, he was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes involving an assault on a woman one of which involved a knife and a threat to kill the woman with said knife. Even while law enforcement officials were investigating and processing this matter, Rutgers opted to dismiss Thiam from the team. Last year, appearing in 25 games, Thiam averaged 3.8 points per game and 2.3 rebounds per game; we are not talking about the school dismissing a lottery pick caliber player here.
There is nothing particularly unusual about this matter so far – unless you consider the original alleged activities that got the police involved in the first place. However, about a week ago, things got curious. Thiam appeared in court with a plea deal that would obviate any jail time for him; the details of that agreement are not important here. The judge in the case refused to accept the plea agreement after questioning Thiam and the judge ruled that Thiam could not adequately participate in his defense because he could not adequately communicate in English. [Aside: Dakar, Senegal in in Francophone West Africa and Thiam’s native language is Wolof.]
The case was held over until the end of the month when the plea deal will be reviewed again with a certified Wolof interpreter present in the court. Sounds like a victory for Lady Justice, right? Here is the question, though:
- Thiam was a junior at Rutgers when the alleged assault occurred. How did he achieve junior class status as a student-athlete if he cannot adequately communicate in English?
While I am in the mode of recounting press reports that raise questions that remain unanswered, let me move to the University of Arizona. The school announced that it intends to “upgrade the football experience” for its fans. Various surveys and consultants have identified some things that the school might do in and around the stadium to make things more enjoyable for the folks who attend games there. Who can possibly argue with this?
Looking over the press release that announced this effort, I came across some of the “usual suspects” for improvement whenever this type of upgrade is undertaken:
- Improved food choices and food quality…
- Beer and wine sales in the stadium…
- An expanded and more luxurious Skybox…
- Yada, Yada and Yada…
Then, there was an unusual entry on the list of improvements to the football experience planned for the University of Arizona:
“The port-a-potties on the stadium’s ground level will be replaced with first-class restroom trailers.”
Let me be clear here. There is nothing enjoyable about a port-a-potty above and beyond the relief it provides when Nature calls. Anything short of designating a “men’s tree” here and a “women’s shrub” there would be an upgrade. However, the press release language makes me pose this follow-up query:
- What are the features that make a “restroom trailer” into a “first-class restroom trailer”?
In all likelihood, I don’t really want to know the answer to that one…
I got an e-mail from a reader referencing the fact that I like to have fun with team mascots/nicknames. His nephew has decided to attend Heidelberg University in northwestern Ohio. Heidelberg is a Division III school and the mascot/nickname is the Student Prince. Clever, no? So, I wondered who their traditional rival might be to see if there might be a connection there. That was a surprise.
Heidelberg University is part of the 10-team Ohio Athletic Conference. There are several schools there with interesting mascots/nicknames. In addition to the more common nicknames such as Otterbein University Cardinals and the Capital University Crusaders, consider some of these other schools:
- John Carroll University Blue Streaks
- Muskingum University Fighting Muskies
- Ohio Northern University Polar Bears
And, for my money, the best of the all …
- Wilmington College Fighting Quakers – a tad oxymoronic, no?
The Ohio Athletic Conference may be Division III in athletics, but it is top-shelf in terms of creative team names…
Finally, since I mentioned port-a-potties and upgrades thereto above, here is a tangentially related item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Ignas Dovydaitis, 11½ months old, outcrawled 24 rivals over a 5-meter carpeted track to capture the annual baby-racing competition in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“The winning secret, insiders say, is resisting the urge to pit for a new diaper.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………