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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Respect for Rutgers

Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 12th, 2007

The Post had a nice front page photo of the Rutgers women’s basketball team today — nice in that you saw the women as thoughtful, quiet people — and so I read the accompanying articles, not really expecting to get much more out of the ugly story of Imus’ ugly comments.

But I’m glad I did. I didn’t watch much of the college basketball tournaments this year, so maybe that’s why I was surprised to find myself suddenly getting something I hadn’t: how the great achievement of those young women was trampled and vandalized by this lowlife’s remarks. From Adam Kilgore’s article in the Washington Post:

Said [Rutgers coach C. Vivian] Stringer: “While all of you come to talk about this great story, this Don Imus story, in the translation you have lost what this is really all about. At the beginning of the year, we were humiliated. But through perseverance and hard work, determination, ultimately they ended up playing for the national championship. And no one believed in them but them. That’s the greatest story. It’s not where you came from, but where you’re going, not where you start, but where you finish.With five freshmen and no seniors on its 10-player roster, Rutgers lost its first two games of the season and stood at 5-5 after 10 games. Players studied film and practiced for 10 hours daily over winter break, Stringer said, and from that point the Scarlet Knights won 22 of 25 games before Tennessee beat them in the national championship.

Along the way, Rutgers demonstrated its perseverance with stunning victories. It lost to Connecticut by 26 at home on Feb. 26, then beat U-Conn. by eight points eight days later in Hartford, Conn., to win the Big East tournament, the school’s first league championship. In the NCAA tournament, the Scarlet Knights beat No. 1 Duke, which had throttled Rutgers by 40 points in December. Stringer told her players then they were her worst defensive team in 35 years of coaching. In the Final Four, Rutgers set a semifinal record by allowing just 35 points against LSU.

“You are familiar with what you might think is the story,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Robert E. Mulcahy III, who attended the team’s news conference along with Corzine and the school’s president, Richard L. McCormick. “But the real story is not the despicable and degrading comments issued by Don Imus and his producer. The real story is about the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team: their incredible accomplishments, where they came from and how far they went.

(Emphases added.) There will be time enough for a reckoning with serial jockass Imus and his misguided friends, defenders (Tom Oliphant!?), employers, and advertisers. But for now, I suggest that if you’re appalled at what Imus spewed over the airwaves, go over to Hillary Clinton’s web site — and great credit where it’s due for her quick reaction — and join her and others in “Respect for Rutgers.” Don’t let Imus be who that Rutgers team remembers years from now. Instead, as Hillary put it:

Show them that we are proud to stand with them and for them.

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