Should “Give’ em Hell” Harry S. Truman have dropped Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Should Michael Jordan have come back after going out in seemingly perfect style? Should the United States have invaded Iraq?

By Gus Bode

All of these are famous dilemmas that have drawn up much debate from both sides. Recently, the SIU men’s track team has had its own dilemma with the dismissal of two-time All-American hurdler Jeff Young on April 5.

The reason for the release was because of a decision made by the 4-by-400 meter relay team to not compete at the Cardinal Classic. They had just reason to not run:mid-30s temperature and a chance of injury. But the problem arose when they did not inform SIU head coach Cameron Wright about the decision or ask him to spell them with other runners. Therefore, when it came time for the teams to lineup at the starting line, the SIU squad was not among the teams on the line. This was an embarrassment to an up-and-coming Saluki squad.

The other four runners, not including Young, were slapped with a two-meet suspension being that it was their first offense on the team. It was Young’s second.

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If they were concerned about injuries, Wright would be a moron not to oblige. Why would he risk injuring his top sprinters? All of them are contenders for their respective events at the MVC outdoor championships. Wright was also a former Olympian on the 1996 U.S. squad in the long jump. He knows and understands athletes.

The athletes knew there would be repercussions for their actions, which Young said was a statement against the coaches as well.

The main debate is whether Young should have been dismissed from the team for his actions, which were part of the relay team’s decision.

The problem for Young is that he was on his last leg before that because of an altercation with a coach, which led to his dismissal back in November. At the time, he was told there is no third chance.

Young said he usually had arguments that were mainly due to suggestions he made to better certain things in the program with the assistant coach, but the time in question, he went overboard and said he refused to back down.

Young is a great competitor and hates losing, he was trying to better himself with the suggestions, but once a coach says to stop, that is the law. Most athletes have mild altercations with coaches throughout their career, but it is imperative they don’t go too far.

Also, when you are on your last leg, you don’t have the power to make a statement. Had this been his first offense, he would have received the same punishment.

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Maurice Moss, who was a member on the relay team, said the punishment is fair. He also said that it was not just one occurrence that led to his dismissal.

But it was his relay team’s decision. That put Young in an awkward position. He said at the time, he did not think this action would lead to his release. It did not even cross his mind. The other runners on the team are his best friends, and they, being that, should have realized that this put him in a horrible position.

If the group wanted to make a statement, they should have done it without Young. There are a lot of events in a meet – it did not have to be a relay that involved someone who was already in hot water. Had Young said something telling them that this is not in benefit of him, the relay team would have obliged.

Wright, though, did care, whether Young truly believes that or not. Back in mid-March, Wright called me to do a story on Young. He spoke of Young very highly, and not just his athletic prowess. He has done the same for many of his athletes and cares for all of them. The team’s success is his success.

Wright became worried over a simple paraphrase that said, “Wright said to ask a non-sprinter.” He worried that it might alienate his sprinters. If he did not care about those sprinters, he would not have to ask about the phrase.

If there was a way not to release Young, the coaches would have conjured it. Athletic Director Paul Kowalcyzk would have discovered it. Fact is, no one wanted to release Young. He brought a great amount of athletic pride to the track program, but he just choose the wrong times to make statements. As Kowalcyzk said, he left them with no options.

Truthfully, Young is a good person. When I’ve spoke with him, he has been socialable and thankful. He is an amazing athlete that realized his potential in Carbondale. He is a person who just needed some care. And the compassion he has is immense, but at the moment, he is just too young to realize how to apply that correctly into athletics. I’m not just saying this because he is 6-feet-2 and built and could beat me like a cop at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Of course this is horrible that it happened at the end of his SIU career, but it is just his SIU career. Young has worlds of options still. This is not like he is Lawrence Phillips and will be blacklisted for this. Nothing of the sort. All the coaches have said it, all the athletes who have been asked have said it – his career is nowhere near over.

So in August of next summer or 2008, turn on the tube and there is a favorable chance that you will see Young hurdling right at you.

Zack Creglow is a freshman in journalism. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.

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