Both sides bauble Bisons' ring row

There's a certain irony to the story about some Manitoba Bisons players setting up a Facebook group because they felt the school was providing a paltry sum to pay for their Vanier Cup rings.

(Short synopsis: The U of M promised $45,000 to subsidize rings for 109 people, which works about to about $419 per index finger. It is a very generous gift, but you know what some people are like. Some players are giving another digit to that idea, saying maybe coaches and players should be taken care of first.)

Now, the hypocrisy is that during the U of M's run to the Vanier Cup, Bisons coach Brian Dobie and some sympathetic hometown reporters did a fair bit of a lily-gilding in response to the hubbub over the advanced age of several of the team's players. The coach was portrayed as a noble educator, Henry Higgins with a whistle, helping give young men who were a bit rough around the edges a chance at higher education, pulling themselves up by the jockstrap. The media in Winnipeg wrote it up and helped advance a feel-good story that generated tons of publicity for the university.

Dobie had a point when he said university is universal, for everyone. Who can't relate to that?

However, when the media help portray the coach as a hero to the common man, they can't turn around and get upset when a few of the players (just a few) turn to Facebook, the last refuge of the common man, to try and get their way. It's called democracy. It works better than anything else that's been tried.

True, the Bisons (if you need names, go find them yourself) behind the Facebook group should have shown more couth and tried to work this matter out privately, or been grateful for what they were getting, but let's face it, that's so 20th century. They acted like young people act, so where the's controversy?

The media who were part of that feel-good story in the final weeks of 2007 don't get to paint the Bisons players as the epitome of Everything Wrong With Sports because they got whiney. Dobie knew what risk he was taking with some of the players he took on. Remember all that rough around the edges, salt of the earth stuff? How can you say that anyone in CIS football is spoiled? Sorry, Adam Wazny, but you and your Winnipeg Sun can't have it both ways.

You love writing about these guys, you have to take them warts and all. That's fair and honest.

It's easy to say after the fact that the players could have and should have aired their beefs privately in order to make their point about how the school's $45Gs could have been distributed. (One point left out of Wazny's one-sided column: Did they really need to buy rings for 109 people? Only about 42 players dressed for the Vanier Cup.) Also, they could have been clearer with why they were utilizing Facebook. Really, who could have objected if they were simply brainstorming a way to get snazzier rings?

Let's hope this works out for the best -- with a traditional Manitoba social that would raise money for the players who are in actual need, if indeed that is the case. It's disappointing to see this.
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