There are times when the wide world of sports can fill our hearts with joy and awe us with the human potential for greatness. When an athlete or sports organization does something amazing, or uses the power of their platform to create change and restore our faith in humanity. Then there are the other times. Times when sports provides a window into the depths of human ignorance, greed and idiocy. When athletes or organizations let us down and leave us wondering why the hell we continue to care. This past weekend was the latter for me.
It began Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston as the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft, despite his history of troubling behavior, including accusations of rape. It says a lot about the current state of the NFL when the accused rapist Winston gets picked first, insted of his squeaky clean and equally skilled counterpart, Marcus Mariota. In any year this is a terrible choice, but this year in particular, a mere 5 months after the NFL launched its “NO MORE” anti-sexual and domestic violence camapaign (while also touting new “no-tolerance” policies), it’s a downright idiotic and couterproductive pick. Mariota could have been the face of the “new, more socially conscious” NFL, instead we have Winston to reminded us just how little the NFL cares about truely addressing these issues.
But wait, it gets better! On Friday, during the second-round of the draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Frank Clark, a player kicked off his college team after being arrested for domestic violence. To make matters worse, when questioned about the pick team representatives lied about their research into the player and the violence in question. The Seahaks claimed to have “…done a ton of research on this young man…” leading them to believe that he never committed the violence he was accused of. But it didn’t take long for the truth to come out, that the only “research” they did into the incident was interviewing Clark himself and none of the many witnesses present that night. According to reports, the team didn’t even look at the police report.
Then on Saturday, notorious woman beater Floyd “Money” Mayweather defeted Manny Pacquiao in the much hyped “fight of the century” which according to all accounts was actually a snooze-fest. Mayweather is an unrepentant abuser who’s been given numerous passes for his behavior. Why? Because he’s a money making machine for Las Vegas, boxing, and broadcast partners like Showtime and HBO (as long as they continue to look the other way). Speaking of passes, on the day of the fight, Mayweather’s camp denied press passes to CNN’s Rachel Nichols and ESPN’s Michelle Beadle. Why did his team block these two well known women from doing their jobs? Because they each dared to bring up Mayweather’s history of abuse and his people were idiotic enough to think this would shut them up… clearly Mayweather, like the rest of boxing, couldn’t give two shits about female fans. But unlike the NFL they don’t even begin to pretend like they do.
Finally, as if the weekend wasn’t bad enough, I just read that James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks and their WNBA counterpart the New York Liberty, has placed notorious sexual harasser Isiah Thomas in charge of the Liberty! Let me repeat that… a man who was found so guilty of sexually harassing one of his female emplyees that she won $11.6 million in punitive damages, was put in charge of running a women’s basketball team. I mean come on Mr. Dolan, what’s next? Are you going to hire a convicted child molester to run your company’s daycare center? I’m guessing the Knicks don’t actually have a daycare anywhere in Madison Square Garden, but if they did, this sounds like just the type of thing Dolan would do. Ugh.
So there you have it, your look back at a disturbing week in the world of sports. Clearly certain segments of the sports world have a long way to go when it comes to carring about issues of violence against women. But there is hope… Mayweather is retiring and once he does he will hopefully find the world a lot less tolerant of his abusive ways. Meanwhile, boxing is a dying sport and the NFL is being pressured to match its actions to its own campaign (of course we’ve got to do our part and keep up the pressure). As for Isiah and the Liberty? Well, the WNBA hasn’t approved the move as yet, so there’s still time to give feedback and make sure it never does.