As you read this, Michigan will likely be playing Illinois in a first-round game of the 2017 Big Ten Tournament. But the Wolverines’ travels to Washington, D.C. were anything but smooth.
If you haven’t already heard the story, the Michigan team plane slid off the runway at Willow Run Airport just outside Ann Arbor on Wednesday. The plane aborted takeoff due to high winds and slid while attempting to brake. According to Michigan officials, no one was injured among the 109 passengers and seven crew members. The accident forced Michigan to travel to D.C. on Thursday, via a charter flight from Detroit’s Metro Airport, just hours before its game versus Illinois.
The Wolverines did eventually arrive — but without their uniforms — at Verizon Center at 10:41 a.m. Thursday, according to MLive.com’s Brendan F. Quinn and the Big Ten pushed the start time of the game with Illinois back 20 minutes to accommodate the late arrival. Despite the accident and late travel, however, Michigan seemed ready to play. During pre-game warm-ups, Big Ten Network analyst Shon Morris contended that the past 24 hours may not faze the Michigan players because young people might not have the same perspective in such matters as older folks might. You can hear the remarks in the following video:
“Young people are pretty resilient,” said Morris. “18-to-22-year-old kids may not necessarily have the perspective of someone that’s a little farther along in life, what could’ve happened.”
The idea that Michigan players may have been ignorant as to how serious the plane accident was raised the eyebrows of several observers, including MGoBlog‘s Ace Anbender.
they're teammates with Austin Hatch. I think they're aware.
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) March 9, 2017
For those unfamiliar with that story, Austin Hatch was involved in a small-plane crash when he was eight years old. His mother, brother and sister were all killed in the crash, and Hatch suffered severe burns that required skin grafts and plastic surgery. Eight years later, Hatch was involved in another small-plane crash that killed his father and stepmother, and left him in a coma for two months.
To be fair, Morris’ comments perhaps could be applied to young people in general, though it seems like only the very young might not understand how serious it is when a plane slides off a runway following an aborted takeoff. It has to be a terrifying, jolting experience that disrupts any feelings of safety. You can be afraid of flying at any age, really.
But that general point about young people’s resiliency obviously doesn’t apply to the Michigan basketball players who heard Hatch’s tragic history first-hand and saw its ramifications up close. Hatch is only two years removed from being an active player who then switched to a medical scholarship and became an undergrad student assistant on coach John Beilein’s staff.
Morris surely didn’t have time to talk to any Michigan players, given their adjusted travel schedule and truncated itinerary before playing Illinois. Even if his primary concern is the games at hand, just a little research or a conversation with Michigan officials might have provided him with the perspective that he says younger people might lack.