About the death of Bryan Pata: it upsets me in many different ways. It upsets me because it hits too close to home, in more than one sense – Bryan’s apartment is less than a mile from the apartment complex where I lived while attending UM. It upsets me that some moron from MSNBC said, “And so, it doesn’t really matter why Pata was shot or by whom. He played for the Hurricanes. He died violently. If it happened at Ohio State, we would be shocked. But at Miami, it’s not a surprise: when you recruit thugs, such things happen.” That was a boldly racist and ignorant statement.
It upsets me that a young kid with a bright future died way before his time. It also upsets me that many kids from the inner city glorify a lifestyle that celebrates violence and in which it seems events like these are common place.
The endless cycle of violence upsets me. I am very upset that the young men on this team have to face and deal with the death of a team leader. And I am terribly upset that his family lost a son in such a horrific way. I am outraged by the way ESPN and other news sources have portrayed Bryan’s death as a part of the endemic problems inside the university’s football program. How dare they associate the death of a human being with losing football games! They should be held accountable for their lack of professionalism in the court of public opinion, but that will never happen, because it is due to public opinion that the media portrays Miami in such a light – Thug U, as they call it.
ESPN and others are merely selling a product for which there is demand, and currently very strong demand. The demand is for “Thug U” and anything that America can attach to it to confirm its fears that Miami is nothing but thugs playing football. Thus, my greatest outrage comes from that public opinion: Miami is full of thugs and the university embraces that image. That notion is crap! Its genesis stems from the Miami teams of the 1980s that scared America. They scared America because young, talented, brash black men were winning and doing it their way, by talking smack and backing it up.
Miami’s “thug perception” is just that: a perception, not rooted in reality. Why was America terrified by the scene of angry black kids walking off an airplane in fatigues? The kids dressed like G.I. Joe, and this is “Thug U”? Miami graduates more players than any other division IA program, and this is “Thug U”? Tennessee had 27 players arrested in the past 20 months, next to nothing was reported about those arrests, and Miami is “Thug U”? To most of the country, it is.
Sadly, these tragic events have proven to me that this perception is so engrained, any hopes of change are pure fantasy. If the murder of a 22-year-old kid can be written off as “not a surprise, when you recruit thugs, such things happen,” then any hopes that America’s perception of the Hurricanes will change should be quickly abandoned. It is this linking of Bryan’s death to football that disgusts me. It is further proof that nothing will change the perception of Miami, so why fight it? UM has always been a family, and it’s time to stop caring what the world thinks of us. It’s time for Miami to care about Miami and make sure our family is taken care of.
I am terribly sorry that the murder of Bryan Pata cannot be talked about without mentioning UM’s football program, because honestly, to hell with football. A young man with a promising future was taken from his family. Shame on those who will link his death to a football program, a university or a city. Rest in peace, Bryan. We love you and will never forget you.
William Todd Keyes