This is All-Star week in baseball, and I’ll be boycotting the game (see below), but this is a good time to note several ethics developments in the Wide, Wide World of Sports:
In cycling: The idiot who caused a massive accident during the Tour de France was identified: she surrendered to authorities right before they were preparing to arrest her. A French prosecutor said that the woman will face trial in October on charges of reckless endangerment and involuntarily causing injuries, but there is still doubt that this will occur. She’s sorry. She’s ashamed. The police have been getting hate emails. All she wanted to do was send “an affectionate message to her grandparents.” Would the woman attracts such sympathy if a couple of the cyclists had been killed because of her stunt? Yet the fact that they were not is pure moral luck.
In pro football: The NFL fined the Washington Football Team, formerly the Redskins before the death of a black man in Minnesota somehow mandated a name change, $10 million last week following an independent investigation that found the team’s work environment was “highly unprofessional” in its treatment of women. Fifteen former female employees and two journalists who covered the team accused team staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The attorney who led the investigation, said ownership and senior management “paid little or no attention” to the workplace culture, in some cases, acting inappropriately themselves. The investigation concluded that franchise owner Dan Snyder was responsible for the club’s unprofessional and intimidating culture, and that he failed to establish a respectful work environment.Yes, the fish rots from the head down.
In the Olympics: African American hammer thrower Gwen Berry announced her intention of using the Tokyo Olympics to protest against the U.S.after turning her back on the flag during preliminaries. It appears the vast majority of Americans don’t sympathize. A I&I/TIPP poll finds that the public overwhelmingly rejects athletes showing disrespect for the American flag at international games, with 79% of the public saying it’s important “for professional athletes to publicly respect the American flag on the international level,” and 60% saying it is “very important.” 16% of the adults surveyed think it’s not important. (Who ARE these people?)
Nearly two-thirds (61%) of blacks surveyed and 69% of Hispanics also don’t want the athletes in Tokyo to engage in political protests.
Also in the Olympics: Team USA in basketball was defeated in its first exhibition game before the Olympics by Nigeria in a 90-87 over the weekend. Good. The Americans had been 54-2 in exhibition games since NBA players started making a travesty of Olympics basketball in 1992, and just nine years ago beat Nigeria by 83 points in the London Olympics. For decades, the U.S complained about pros from Communist countries crushing our amateurs, and then as soon as it could, the U.S. used its overwhelming dominance in pro basketball to do the same to other nations. Yecchh.
In Major League Baseball: As Major League Baseball heads to the All-Star game ( being played in Denver after MLB beclowned itself by pulling it out of Atlanta as a phony virtue-signaling gesture—“voter suppression,” you know), Dodgers pitcher and sportswriter favorite Trevor Bauer is on indefinite “administrative leave” following his ex-girlfriend’s allegations of horrific sexual abuse. Baseball has been cracking down on domestic abuse by players over the last few years; usually, if the player are good enough, “The King’s Pass” eventually takes over and some team pays them millions following the players’ agents drafting the right apologies. We’ll see about Bauer. If the alleged victim’s account is only half true, the pitcher is one sick and dangerous bastard. He might not be taking the mound for a long time, if ever again.
Also in baseball: At this week’s All-Star Game, the National League, once a showcase for black stars, will have just two African-American players, and before replacement players were named, there was only one, Mookie Betts, who later announced that he would not play. Systemic racism? Hardly: baseball is the most diverse of the professional sports, but the number of black players has declined significantly. African American participation in the majors peaked at 19% in 1986, but on opening day 2021 the figure was just 7.6%. Why? Well, it’s not because teams aren’t eager to hire talented black players. The problem is that baseball is more expensive to play than other sports. The cost of equipment (bat, glove, helmet, spikes) is high; the cost of the youth travel and showcase circuit, which is essential for players to be scouted and drafted, is costly, and Division I baseball programs allow only 11.7 scholarships, most of them partial. Men’s basketball teams get 13, and football teams get 85.