Monday, September 08, 2014

NFL Suspensions

The league seems to be embracing contradictions. Infractions that affect the outcomes of games, or how people are able to go about their business are one set of problems that sports leagues consequate: gambling, PED's, impugning the integrity (as opposed to the intelligence and accuracy) of the refereeing.

Then there are things players do that make the league look bad: use recreational drugs, abuse women, make embarrassing political or social statements.  These also have their penalties. 

But both of these have changed culturally over time.  This is more noticeable in the second category currently, where making comments that seem denigrating to groups is regarded as just as bad as actually committing crimes. Also, some crimes are apparently worse than others, and appearances matter greatly.

I absolutely get it that the leagues are selling a product, and anything that interferes with selling product is up for review.  They can insist players wear pink - okay, they already do that - or sing only funkadelic music, or sponsor hamster homelessness relief or whatever they damn well please.  They are selling a mythology (winning games is subsidiary to this), and you either fit or you don't. But then they can't turn and say "But we are disapproving of this behavior because we think it's really, really, wrong," according to some objective standard.  Because a lot of things are really wrong, but we care about different ones in different decades.

Sorry, lost my head there.  Of course they can turn and say that, because they are also subject to the rules of the mythology, and must also sell product.  They can't do it honestly or honorably, but what is that?


terri said...

These leagues are subject to the people they are trying to sell to. If the public is disgusted by the actions of one of their players, or owners, it hurts the team. If the majority of people don't want to show up and cheer on wife beaters, or dog fight operators, or owners who seem to think it would be better to have a different type of fan...then they have to do something about it.

I think sports leagues have to be reactive because there is no core morality/integrity within them. It's all about the money. They become "moral" and make "moral choices" only when the public outcry is deafening.

The public can overlook a lot...ignoring things that might be considered rumors, even if they are really true, glossing over "rough edges" and so forth. However, when hard evidence comes to light...the public will have none of it.

It's hard to ignore a player caught on camera knocking his fiancee out and dragging her limp body off of an elevator.

The public recognizes that such a player is a criminal...a legally un-prosecuted and un-convicted criminal...but still a criminal. They don't need a jury to convict him to know what a video plainly shows.

bs king said...

I think it's obviously an area with a lot of grey, and I think it's harder when the product you're selling is entertainment.

The NFL provides nothing, except insofar as you are entertained by it. I remember having this discussion with a friend when the Michael Vick story broke years ago....he was mad Vick had lost endorsements. It confused me, because what is an endorsement deal other than selling an image? There's a reason no one pays me to endorse anything.

If a fabulous doctor/scientist/inventor/ whatever was convicted of domestic violence, it's a bit easier to say "well that has nothing to do with what he contributes to society". Ray Rice has no such recourse. Football is not useful to others, except as entertainment.

All that being said, I am disturbed by the trend of recorded wrongdoings being treated as infinitely worse than unrecorded wrongdoings. Nothing in that tape was substantively different than the initial report. It's the visual that got him fired. Sterling's racism was known for years, yet it was considered different when we heard it. Ray Rice and Donald Sterling are not very sympathetic regardless, but what about others? Slippery slopes and all that jazz. What about men or women who get private naked pictures leaked? I get why we're going down this road, but I think we should all take a good look at all of our private behavior, and ask ourselves how well we'd fare if it were released to the world.

Texan99 said...

I'm ready to ostracize someone who punches out his girlfriend. The fact that it's on tape just frees me from the worry that he was accused unjustly.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

terri, your last paragraph reminds us that "innocent until proven guilty" is a principle of law and courts, not personal evaluation. It may certainly be true that we should be cautious and look for other explanations and evidence, but we are not under the same obligation that a court is to assume innocence. If we know someone is guilty, we can regard them as such, regardless of court outcomes. In the extreme, consider: does his fiancee have an obligation to regard him as innocent?

terri said...

Well, considering that his then-fiancee is now his actual wife, I think that in her mind she considers him "innocent". I would venture to say that she is probably a little messed up in her mind about what is an excusable, justifiable, and acceptable way to be treated by a man, or by anyone for that matter. That isn't surprising for anyone who is at all familiar with how abusive relationships work and the sick dynamics that can occur between two people who supposedly "love" each other.

We are at an interesting time in history when so many of our interactions are recorded without us realizing it. There are certain times when evidence is so blatant that the public certainly doesn't need to have an officially stamped "guilty" title approved by the judicial system in order to make judgments about people. The court of public opinion is very powerful and has a way of extracting justice in ways that the legal system is unable to. Of course, that's also a scary thing when the public gets it wrong and the evidence is not as cut and dry as it is in this particular instance.

Still, being a social pariah is better than sitting in prison, being a convicted felon and possibly being investigated by child services as to whether he has behaved this way in the presence of his child, so Rice should consider himself lucky that he only lost his job.

If he had committed this act upon anyone else who wasn't willing to cover it up and let him get away with it he would be in a much worse position in his life. He's lucky that his wife is so warped that she let him get away with it...though he probably wouldn't be involved with the type of person who wouldn't let him get away with it.

Sam L. said...

"They can't do it honestly or honorably, but what is that?" That is a no never-mind.