‘I’m sorry’ apparently not enough for some

first_img“I am sorry.”From the first time you pull a girl’s hair, trap your sister in a closet with a spider or hit your friend in the back with a plastic baseball bat (my bad, Jeff), parents everywhere teach that those three words are the magic solution to set everything right again.It is humiliating to admit you have done something wrong, and most of the time we would rather blame extenuating circumstances — let’s call this the “Bud Selig” defense — rather than admit our mistake. But when you finally are able to suck it up, ignore the feeling of doom in your gut and apologize, we are taught the slate is wiped clean.It is an extreme feeling of relief to admit a mistake and simply move on.Unless, of course, your apology concerns the ever-important world monopolized by ESPN. Then the apology becomes a matter of national concern.How sincere was it? Did emotion show on the athlete’s face? Did the apology come too late? And most importantly, should we accept this admission of guilt or forever begrudge the athlete that dare besmirch our team with his foibles?To be clear, this is not a column about Tiger Woods and whatever he was coerced into saying last Friday. I am following the path the wise men at The Golf Writers Association of America laid out and completely ignoring an irrelevant event. Woods didn’t commit a crime, he didn’t cheat — at golf, anyway — and the only explanation he owes is to his family.No, this column is about senior leader and leading scorer for the Wisconsin basketball team, Trevon Hughes.In case you have broken down mentally from the first batch of midterms, last Thursday the Badgers suffered a 68-52 defeat to border rival Minnesota. In postgame interviews Hughes — completely unsolicited — took the blame for the loss on himself, saying he set a poor example in practice the previous week.“It was all my fault,” Hughes said, also adding he had a “crappy week” in practice. “I was being a goofball in practice all week.”After reporters around Hughes paused in stunned silence, one followed up asking Hughes to clarify what he meant by a “crappy week.”“That’s unacceptable; I’m going to step up my leadership,” Hughes continued. “I wasn’t being a leader; I was just thinking everything was a joke. I was turning the ball over in practice, and it showed up in the game. I’ve just got to be more aggressive and be a better leader.”Walking back up to the media room, I immediately noted to Herald Sports Editor Jordan Schelling how impressive Hughes’ maturity was and how this growth in character was noticeable from his junior year to his senior season.Even more compelling, Hughes finished the game leading the Badgers in scoring with 19 points and shot a respectable 7-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-12 from 3-point range.He may have had a bad week of practice, but it didn’t throw his game off too much.From the reactions I received back in Madison, my opinion is in a small minority.Herald sports editors Adam Holt and Max Henson both expressed to me how “disappointed” they were with Hughes goofing around in practice during the middle of a Big Ten title race. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Badger beat writer Jeff Potrykus wrote on JSOnline’s Badger Blog, “But let’s be honest and blunt. UW fans better hope they don’t hear Hughes making similar comments after any more games this season.”(Stepping onto my soapbox.)At what point did “I am sorry” stop being enough?Hughes is a college kid who made the mistake of having too much fun during basketball practice. While that should be viewed as a minor problem at best, Hughes took responsibility and deflected all the blame to himself after a tough loss. What part of this makes him a poor leader?Let he whose assist-to-turnover ratio remains perfect cast the first stone at this man who dares slander James Naismith’s creation.(Falling off soap box.)Have we become such jackasses — no offense, Adam or Max — that an honest, upfront apology is no longer good enough?And perhaps more importantly, what happens if Hughes reads or hears the responses to his admission? Think about it. Athletes already come coated in a Teflon clich? coating — just read anything Jason Bohannon or Keaton Nankivil say.But can we really blame them, if this is the reaction when they expose themselves?As an athlete, why bother admitting fault to any mistake anymore?It is a sad day for sports society when honesty spurns only more scorn. It is an even sadder day when “I am sorry” doesn’t make things all better.So, Trevon, I’m not sure you have anything to apologize for, but to me at least, it’s all good.Michael is a senior majoring in journalism. Think he needs to stop preaching and write about better topics? Was this too whiny for you? It feels wrong for him to lecture anyone. Email him your thoughts at [email protected]last_img

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