thought i would post this column from today seattle pi....i think this pretty much sums it all up
Athletes no longer answer for misdeeds
By ART THIEL
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLUMNIST
The sorting, collating and evaluation of misdeeds by sports figures has lately required forklifts, spreadsheets, and liquid-hydrogen fuel to keep the
Just in the past week, the NBA fracas in Detroit, the college football brawl between South Carolina and Clemson, and Seattle's own little problem,
Seahawks wide receiver Koren Robinson, have inspired sweeping generalizations about the teams, sports and the social fabric.
Many conclude, more or less, that American culture is a runaway 18-wheeler that has blown its jake brakes and is tootling straight to hell.
As an ardent believer in the power of coincidence, I am less inclined to toss my hands in the air and suggest that connecting the sporting dots will
spell the word "doom."
After all, players have fought with fans before, college footballers have rumbled before, and just guessing here, but Robinson is not the first
athlete or citizen to have smoked dope. Precedence does not excuse the current misdeeds, but it does offer the notion that since we've seen it all
before, there is no recent evidence that we are any closer to cliff's edge.
Which doesn't mean there isn't a connection. The issue that ties these matters together is one that some readers of this column might have seen
mentioned before: The fade of accountability as a virtue.
Apart from the startling theater in their actions, what gets me is that Ron Artest and his fellow NBA goofs, as well as the Clemson and South Carolina
clowns and the Seahawks' King Knucklehead, have zero sense of responsibility to their teammates.
If they were tennis players, golfers, swimmers or track athletes, similar misdeeds will reflect poorly on the greater enterprise, but serious
consequences would fall only to the individuals.
But the actions of Artest and his teammates have blown up the season for the Indiana Pacers, as well as their fans, staffers and sponsors. At Clemson
and South Carolina, the school presidents have pulled their teams from bowl consideration because of the brawl. In Seattle, Robinson's suspension put
a tenuous season in further jeopardy, because his replacement, 42-year-old Jerry Rice, is not Robinson at his best.
Yet when reporters encountered Robinson in the locker room this week after the suspensions were announced, he was playfully engaged in a jumping
contest with a couple of his teammates, as if nothing had happened. While there is always a danger of making too much of a moment of play, the image
underscored a widely held belief around the team and league that Robinson has never gotten "it," isn't getting it and will never get it.
By NFL rules with the union, a four-game suspension means you have to have transgressed three times, whether by use of drugs, not reporting for a drug
test, or another behavioral problem that is proscribed in the collective bargaining agreement. In other words, it isn't just one moment's mistake,
perhaps excused as youthful indiscretion. A suspended player has to be serial screw-up.
If I were Chad Brown or Grant Wistrom or Walter Jones, I would find a private moment with Robinson and deliver a boot to the man's backside so harshly
that he would taste leather. Such an action may indeed have occurred, and if so, good for them. But if it has happened, it's hard to imagine Robinson
jacking around in the locker room if he knew how some teammates felt.
Robinson shouldn't even have had the chance to be in the locker room. He should have been banned from all team activities, too. Instead, coach Mike
Holmgren in the past offseason spearheaded a change in the rules to allow suspended players to remain around the team.
The theory that being around the team will be more helpful than being out on the street is wrong.
In making three successive mistakes while under team supervision, it's obvious the precious football environment coaches claim will help players did
nothing to deter Robinson's misbehavior. The only remaining option for motivation, it would seem, is the player's removal from the atmosphere that was
sufficiently indulgent that he thought he could abuse it without consequence.
Now Holmgren and the players must convince Robinson he's done them wrong, while not denying him the privileges and perks of being a professional
How Holmgren could misunderstand that point is mystifying. Then again, the mistake is hardly unique to him. Nearly all coaches are egocentric enough
to think the same way, and nearly all wonder why it doesn't work.
But the misguidedness isn't confined to football coaches. Consider the recent role of the ABC network in reinforcing the disregard of
In the infamous skit that opened the "Monday Night Football" telecast from Philadelphia, a towel-clad trollop from the cast of "Desperate Housewives"
dropped her towel and leaped naked into the arms of star receiver Terrell Owens, who was in uniform and purportedly ready to take the field.
While much was made of the skit's sexuality in front of a TV audience rife with kids, the more serious odiousness was in the words, not the implied
sex. The dialogue had Owens at first refusing her advances because he owed his teammates and the city his efforts in the game. But once she dropped
her towel, he dropped his resistance, and the frolic was on.
What that dialogue did was reinforce the worst stereotypes of athletes as reckless sexual animals oblivious to anything but self-gratification. As
Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy pointed out, it was also racially offensive to him, particularly in light of the Kobe Bryant case.
I'm not sure which was worse: ABC's lame apology that implied it was ignorant of how many ways the skit could be interpreted, or that the network knew
exactly the consequences and didn't care because it would mean future ratings points for the sagging Monday Night enterprise.
Either way, the Disney Co., owner of ABC and ESPN, basically kicked its business partner, the NFL, in the teeth. While I'm a believer in separating
news organizations from the outfits they cover, a pointless exploitation of the worst aspects of athletes isn't the way to make the separation.
I haven't heard whether anyone was fired or suspended. But the fact that no one blinked over making Owens look irresponsible tells me it isn't just
athletes who don't care about accountability.
Sports didn't invent the Enron-style disregard of one's own colleagues as well as customers. But team sports should be a principal bulwark against the
acceptance of me-first destructiveness.
If I were Holmgren, I'd say, "Koren, go ahead and jump up while you're suspended. But if you come down, you're fired."