he grew a beard
I noticed this article over at thebiglead.com, noticed it was written by tyduffy, and figured it would be a hatchet job. Good to know I wasn't disappointed.
The premise is that Birkett should not have been reprimanded for his "snarky" comment regarding Dorsey in the chat a couple of days ago. Now, without rehashing what others have said, I'll remind people that we are talking about a grown man on one side, with a captive audience and the ability to have his voice heard across a broad range of mediums, and a teenager who was just accepted to the University of Michigan to play football but with some skeletons in his closet. Those skeletons were dealt with by the legal system and his record is officially clean, but in the court of public opinion he certainly has a stained and imperfect reputation.
I think what people like tyduffy forget is that we are still talking about teenagers when we rail against recruits, and while this is not necessarily the case with Dorsey, oftentimes they come from less-than-ideal backgrounds both socially and economically. For some reason, we expect these young boys to act like professional athletes, scholars, and good citizens, completely ignoring the fact that many of their peers could barely qualify in one or two of these categories when they step onto campuses across America.
15- and 16-year-olds make mistakes all the time, breaking laws and social norms in ways that are perplexing to the 20, 30, 40, and 50-somethings that love to pass judgment on them. That doesn't mean we should condone delinquency in minors, but we should also not brand them as incurable and cast them off forever. To do so would be an unnecessary overreaction to the maturation process that everyone has gone through in their lives and needlessly imposing draconian punishment on relatively minor offenses; the proverbial "throwing out the baby with the bath water."
It is clear that Demar Dorsey was involved in some activities that, at best immature and at worst criminal. But the legal system took stock of these offenses and meted out a punishment (community service and rehabilitation) it felt was appropriate. Now if you have an issue with the punishment, take it up with the Florida legal system, but don't impugn Dorsey's character simply because he complied with their orders.
Tyduffy counters that while the legal system may be content, society at large should not be some quick to accept Dorsey back:
If someone pled down from convictions in two sexual assault cases and was acquitted at trial in a third, he doesn’t deserve to be treated as upstanding when he applies to coach the girls’ soccer team. AnnArbor.com acting as though he’s wholly innocent is laughable.
Now, beyond getting into the extremely tenuous and misguided logic applied here (comparing a potential rapist to a 17-year-old who stole some electronics), the author clearly is of the opinion that Dorsey is guilty of greater offenses than he admitted to, and that he escaped his "proper" punishment. Now, as an equal citizen under law, men like Tyduffy and Birkett is entitled to their opinions; but so is Rich Rodriguez, the UM athletic department, the admissions office, and everyone else who signed off on Dorsey being admitted to UM. Society allows you to be unhappy, but it doesn't mean everyone else has to share in your unhappiness.
But the author goes on to argue the rather obvious:
Demar Dorsey is receiving a second chance, because he’s a talented football player. As a mere student, that marred past most likely would have kept him from being admitted. Apparently, improving the football team trumps kids feeling safe with their laptops in the dorms.
Yes, Demar Dorsey received a second chance because he is good at football. And guess what - this favortism has been going on since the beginning of organized sports, and will continue well after Demar Dorsey leaves UM. Of course, if both his parents were alums, he was a valedictorian from a disadvantage region, he penned a popular or critically-lauded short story, or was a genius programmer, perhaps his transgressions would also have been overlooked. We have no idea how often such "exceptions" are made for other students because those stories aren't bandied about on talk radio, dragged out in excruciating detail by talking heads on ESPN, or haphazardly vilified by largely anonymous bloggers. They occur behind closed doors and in dusky admissions offices across America, and those individuals go on with their lives. Some surely fall into recidivism, but others learn from their mistakes and become upstanding members of society. They are given second chances because someone, somewhere decides that just because you make a mistake when you were 17 shouldn't define who you are for the rest of your life.
Now this post has gone on for far longer than I expected, so I'll be brief - Birkett's comment probably wasn't meant to be as offensive as it appeared, but it was also immature and unnecessary. This was acknowledged, and both sides would be best served to move on. But as for authors like Tyduffy who demand their pound of flesh from everyone who seems to have "beaten" the system, remember that just because you choose not to give someone the benefit of the doubt doesn't mean they shouldn't be given a second chance to prove you wrong.