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Gloating shameful

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, September 19, 2005

I once watched as athletes from an in-state rival university (one that University of Notre Dame football players recently tangled with) simulate defecation on the Spartan S located mid-court in our basketball arena at Michigan State University, after a sound defeat of our men’s team. I vowed then that I would never tolerate such behavior on the part of our own student-athletes.

Accordingly, I apologize on behalf of the Michigan State University community to the Notre Dame community and fans for the flag-planting incident after the football game last Saturday. Intolerant gloating and chest-beating celebration are a true defeat, not a victory. We Spartans know well the feeling of disappointment after heart-breaking athletic events, and never should we force athletic opponents to feel it any more acutely.

I write, too, to express admiration to the Notre Dame community for its thoughtful and prayerful response, on national television, to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. This was a clear victory for Notre Dame, regardless of the game’s final score. I might respectfully disagree with Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, however, in the inscrutability of God’s wisdom with regard to such a natural disaster, because within this calamity clearly there is providence. It brought clarity to the depth of racism and the extremes of poverty and wealth in our nation, and showed us that not only should we open our wallets to aid the victims but open our hearts to end these painfully lingering, intolerable societal illnesses. Perhaps Katrina offers a metaphor for washing them away so that we might build a more just and equitable society.

Edward D. Walker, PhDProfessorDepartment of Microbiology and Molecular GeneticsMichigan State UniversitySept. 17