Friday, April 29, 2005

A Sincere Apology

In yesterday's International Herald Tribune, this delightful 'sports' story appeared:

"Theo Toemion, the chairman of Indonesia's powerful Investment Coordinating Board, is, like most parents, passionate about his son's sporting activities. Just how passionate became evident one recent Sunday when he went on a violent rampage, assaulting a 14-year-old referee and several parents of other children in a dispute over a junior school basketball match."

What caused his rampage against foreigners at Jakarta International School? Why did he break the nose of the opposing coach?

Toemion's 7-year-old son Daniel was accused of too many fouls.

I know exactly how Toemion feels. I, too, was unjustly accused of a disqualifying foul number 5 in an important game in Beaumont, Texas way back in 1977. In those days, I could jump pretty well. They say that white men can't jump, so maybe it was my Cherokee blood. Anyway, because I could dunk two-handed, my Beaumont cousin invited me to play for his independent league team while I was visiting relatives during summer break from university.

I was doing a fine job on the court -- winning tipoffs, grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, scoring from above the rim, and generally playing an aggressive game.

That led to foul trouble, especially since I was playing an aggressive Ozark style that I learned from my high school algebra teacher, who used to go off on tangents and talk about basketball and his coaching days instead of the quadratic equation. In the course of those 'lectures,' Coach Cooper expressed a truth that I've never forgotten:

"If you drive for the basket, make sure that you charge like hell over the man in your way. You'll get a foul that time, but he'll get out of your way next time."

That's true, but you have to charge pretty hard. I guess the Beaumont referee didn't like that style, for my foul number 4 was counted as foul number 5!

"Does an egregious foul count twice?" I wanted to know.

They threw me out of the game. Unlike Toemion, however, I'm a peaceful man off-court, so I didn't throw any punches or break any noses. But a couple of years later, when I saw that referee in a Baylor University cafeteria in Waco, Texas, I confronted him:

"I remember you," I said, but he just looked at me, baffled. I dropped the issue.

Toemion, however, isn't one to let things slide, and he -- a "former foreign exchange dealer" and current "gatekeeper for foreign investors" -- has the advantage of being the victim of 'racist' foreigners. Angry words with the game's coordinator, Michelle Mabee, led Toemion to conclude:

"I was dealing with someone displaying a very racist behavior."

Several contrite days later, however, Toemion must have had some second thoughts, for he penned what he characterized as a "sincere apology":

"My sense of nationalism and Indonesian pride began to dominate and I was prepared to defend myself against all the foreigners who were accosting me."

Perfectly understandable. I certainly wouldn't put up with being 'accosted' by foreigners who have no business investing in my country and whose noses deserve to be broken for their disregard of my high social status.

As just like Toemion, I, too, would draw on my nationalist pride and threaten to have all foreign parents tossed out of my country.

Afterwards, of course, I would sincerely apologize.


At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Gypsy Scholar you and the press have the story all wrong on the basketball incident here in Jakarta. For one the player in question had only 1 foul not 5, this was pointed out by the 14 yr old referee. Yet the incident happened anyway. A sad day in sports indeed, it was not a letter of apology but a personal justification diatribe. The whole episode has made my son a victim where he is a victim and everything a referee should do

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mermaid, thanks for adding to my knowledge, which was previously based solely on the news report in the International Herald Tribune.

Some of your post seems broken off, so I may have missed part of what you wanted to say.

At any rate, I genuinely symphathize with you and your family. The fact that the player in question, Damiel Toemion, had only ONE foul makes the reaction of his father, Theo Toemion, even more indefensible.

Indeed, that was the point of my post on the report. My 'understanding' for Theo Toemion was purely ironic. Such people as he deserve ridicule, and that's what my post did.

I also used a bit of self-irony, which may have had the effect of obscuring my intent.

Anyway, I hope that you read this and that you realize that my sympathies lie with you and your family, not with Toemion.


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