“I believe in recovery, and as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.” —Ann Richards
While the staff of Old Capitol Brew Works in Iowa City attempted to close the bar, there were 15 patrons who were not quite done enjoying their Friday night. They argued with the staff and created enough of a scene for the police to be called.
These things happen with in college towns. In the town of the nation’s second highest-rated party school, they happen with startling regularity. That’s why 14 of the 15 patrons involved could have ended up in the police blotter with absolute anonymity (via Iowa City Press-Citizen).
Unfortunately, one of them was a senior cornerback and defensive captain for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
People noticed Micah Hyde.
Hawkeyes fans reacted to the news of Hyde’s arrest with anger and disappointment. There were obvious questions of his judgment, even questions about his level of dedication and attacks on Hyde’s character.
Hyde is a young man who made a mistake. Disappointment is understandable, but judgment and personal attacks on his character are unwarranted.
Despite the emotional investment placed in college athletes by fans and alumni, they simply refuse to stop being 21 years old.
When watching big-time college football it is easy to lose sight of the individuals who make up the revenue-generating brands many of the teams have become. They take the field in Nike, Adidas or Under Armour uniforms thanks to their university’s endorsement deals. Their games are broadcast on national television, sometimes on conference networks created for the specific purpose of cashing in on the players they feature.
Under all of this production are young men between the ages of 18 and 22. And that age range is prime territory for poor decision making.
The most common criticism of Hyde is that he should know better, given his leadership role on the team. It is true athletes are held to a higher standard than the average college student, and by and large they live up to those standards. Hyde is no exception.
Hyde arrived in Iowa City in 2009 and immediately established himself as an important player on the Hawkeyes’ roster. He has experienced highs and lows with the program and navigated the emotional spectrum while handling local celebrity status and the access that comes with it.
Saturday morning’s public intoxication, an offense that is handed out dozens of times to his fellow students while celebrating the football games in which he stars, was Hyde’s first legal incident since joining the Hawkeyes.
Not bad for an Ohio kid who came to Iowa as an 18-year-old living independently for the first time.
We will soon learn Hyde’s official punishment. Many are speculating a one-game suspension to be served this week against Michigan State.
One game would be more than enough to send an arbitrary message to a young man who probably does not need a message sent in the first place.
It is unfair to pass judgment on Hyde simply because on one night he failed to live up to the preconceived notion of what he should be, based on the images we see on the football field and the narrative attached to it.
Micah Hyde will not be defined by a minor lapse in judgment on a night out with some friends visiting from his hometown. He will be back on the field making Hawkeyes fans proud with the effort they see every Saturday.
He will also resume his stellar performance off the field, but that will go largely unnoticed.