Sunday, April 15, 2007

Never leave off the last "s" for savings, or "Nobody ever died for dear old Rutger Hauer"

This tastefully typeset block of type about ignorance appears this morning in the center of an otherwise blank page of this morning's New York Times. The only other items printed on the page are the header for page 5 of the April 15, 2007 Sports Sunday section and a small Nike swoosh at the foot of the page.

First of all, the sentiment is fine and should, at this point, be universal.

However, the University from which we graduated was named after Col. Henry Rutgers, and not Rutger Hauer, so line three of Nike's public service announcement should salute "the Rutgers team" and not "Rutger's team". Of course this is probably just an example of faulty copyediting (the same line ends with a sentence fragment and the first line is punctuated to make us believe that ignorance is thanking the reader rather than Nike thanking ignorance) or the same inexplicable theory of punctuation that leads people to put signs that say "The Smith's" rather than "The Smiths" on their front lawns and RVs. However, we can't help thinking Nike's mistaken belief that the team we root for is the "Rutger Scarlet Knights" is due to the fact Rutgers' athletic program still isn't high on Nike's radar screen. After all, we can't imagine America's big sneaker company making a similar mistake when writing about the Louisville Cardinals (little birds) and the Stanford Cardinal (like Scarlet and Crimson, a shade of red).

Despite the recent surge of notoriety, we may have to wait for the 2007 football season before that widespread ignorance about the school on the banks of the old Raritan finally changes forever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Steve Czaban made an interesting point today on his morning show on Fox Sports Radio about self-righteous and opportunistic behavior. Those who would pile on in a situation such as this (are you listening, Nike, pols, activists?) had better be prepared to have their own statements and actions scrutinized for consistency with their indignant points of view.

It's sad that we live in a world where a message containing worthwhile sentiments must be viewed with a cynical eye, but it is what it is. Why, for example, did Nike feel compelled to display their trademark at the bottom of the ad. If their motive were altruistic, wouldn't an anonymous ad have better served the public interest? This was an obvious land-grab for consumer goodwill by Nike, and I find it hilarious that the ad contained errors.

I don't defend what Imus said, but the man has already lost his job. "Judge not lest ye be judged" comes to mind. Public opinion has spoken in this instance, and it's been very easy for everyone to get on board. But if one chooses to make political hay out of such an event, be warned that the conversation never ends.

I don't hear the word "forgiveness" being uttered too frequently with respect to the Imus situation, though he has apologized numerous times since the incident. That's fine, but condemnation without forgiveness cuts both ways. It will be interesting to see whether or not the acquittal of the Duke lacrosse players will result in the holding accountable of individuals (beyond the DA) and groups who were so quick to judge them as guilty.

I also find Vivian Stringer's comment, "I never apologize for anything" (in the context of the troubled young woman with drug and other criminal incidents on the Rutgers women's basketball team) ironic given recent events. Here's hoping she never makes a mistake that forces her to part with her convictions and apologize for something. She certainly was the picture of self-righteousness in demanding one from Imus.