Noontime Ethics, 8/18/2021: The Segue Edition


1. Combine mental health with unaccountable female superstar athletes and you get.…another “How dare you expect me to answer questions like any other pro athlete, you sexists racist!” moment from Naomi Osaka. Ahead of the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, tennis’s reigning queen finally agreed to sit down for questions from the press on a Zoom call. You will recall that at the French Open in May, she said she would decline to do pretournament or post-match news conferences, even though they are required of all players. When Osaka was fined $15,000 for skipping her press commitments after her first-round victory, she withdrew before her second-round match in Paris, for the first time playing the mental health card., later used so effectively by Simone Biles at the Olympics. At the session in Mason, Paul Daugherty, a sports columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer, asked ,“You are not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format. Yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform. I guess my question is, How do you balance the two?” Osaka, after an attempt at an answer that wasn’t an answer, ran out of the room in tears. Her agent, Stuart Duguid, said via text message, “The bully at The Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now. Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong, and his sole purpose was to intimidate.”

Imagine that response from a male athlete to a legitimate if tough question. Imagine an agent for such a male athlete calling the questioner a “bully.” Female athletes cannot protest that they must be treated equally with male jocks and still reserve the right to revert to delicate flowers when it serves their purposes.

2. And speaking of imaginary bullying...Former U.S. women’s national soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo declared on a podcast interview that she had observed team leader Megan Rapinoe “almost bullying” her teammates into kneeling while the national anthem was played prior to games, saying

“I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way. But it’s our right as Americans to do it whatever way we’re comfortable with and I think that’s really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes. There’s a lot of pressure and ultimately at the end of the day our number one focus should and has always been to win first.”

This was widely quoted yesterday, especially on conservative blogs, but Solo’s credibility here is dubious. On Aug. 24, 2016, after the United States had fallen to Sweden in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics and goalkeeper Hope Solo had responded to that result by publicly describing the winning team as “a bunch of cowards,”she was suspended for six months by U.S. Soccer and her contract with the women’s national team was terminated.

Three days later, the Seattle Reign soccer team announced Solo was taking personal leave. She never played another game for the Reign or the US Women’s National Team, both of which included Rapinoe. So when Rapinoe first “took a knee” on the field on September 4 during the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick’s obnoxious protest, Solo wasn’t around. She also wasn’t around when Rapinoe repeated that protest about two weeks later, prior to a USWNT exhibition game on September 15. In fact, Rapinoe and Solo were never teammates again after Kaepernick began his protests.

It is easy to imagine Rapinoe bullying team mates, but Solo has an Ethics Alarm rap sheet as long as my arm. She has no credibility. Rapinoe’s many critics, whom she certainly deserves, wanted Solo’s accusation to be true.

3. Another segue! And speaking of people with no credibility...Acclaimed theater executive Christopher Massimine‘s job as the managing director of the prestigious Pioneer Theater Company in Salt Lake City was thrown into crisis after a local television affiliate found that he had embellished his résumé. Well, embellished is putting it lightly. Massimine did not have a master’s degree from NYU,, though his résumé said he did. His claims to have helped develop popular video games and some major advertising campaigns couldn’t be verified. He claimed he was born in Italy—he was born in New Jersey. He said he once a full-time employee of the Dramatists Guild. Well, he was an unpaid interne for a few months. He told The Daily Beast in an interview that he had appeared on Broadway as a child in shows like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Les Misérables.” There are no records of him performing in either show, according to the Broadway League’s database.

Two years ago, his theater put out a news release stating he had been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Performing Arts Action Association and would be honored at a reception in Washington. Massimine traveled to D.C. in January 2020, purportedly to pick up the award, and billed nearly $800 for his expenses. He returned with a photo supposedly taken at the White House, showing him wearing a medal awarded by the National Performing Arts Action Association.

There is no National Performing Arts Action Association.

This week, Massime announced that he was resigning and that he had struggled with mental illness for years.

4. And still speaking of those with no credibility… The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield reassured Wolf Blitzer on CNN by announcing that the UN Security Council issued a “very strongly worded press statement” that the Taliban must respect human rights. “We have expressed in no uncertain terms, here in the United Nations, through a very strongly worded press statement from the Security Council that we expect the Taliban to respect human rights, including the rights of women and girls,” she said. Oh! So there’s nothing to worry about,then!

Wait…what does this remind me of? Oh, right..this:

M Obama selfie

5. OK, I’m tired of segues now…I want to see a debate on this topic between James Bond and Mookie Betts. The current but soon to be ex-James Bond, Daniel Craig, told the UK’s Candis Magazine that he finds the concept of inheritance “distasteful,” and that he doesn’t plan on leaving any money to his three children. Craig has a reported net worth of $160 million.

Meanwhile, the justification given for every major league baseball player who leaves “the great fans and city” where he purports to love for a few more millions of guaranteed income is that he is “doing it for his kids.”

Mookie Betts, Dodgers rightfielder, has earned $82.5 million so far, but is guaranteed another $342 million under his current contract

16 thoughts on “Noontime Ethics, 8/18/2021: The Segue Edition

  1. #5: Perhaps the Brits are more sensitive than most on issues of inherited wealth and privilege. Huge social divides and centuries of wars over which “noble” would have the right to subjugate them have left some marks. They still have a House of Lords, for God’s sake.

  2. Daniel Craig has probably just seen to many spoiled rich kids who grew up knowing the could just swan around being leeches.

    Fortunately (?), my kids don’t have that problem!

    • Any number of American billionaires have also stated they plan to give their fortunes away and are not leaving their kids their wealth. Buffet and Gates come to mind. At least those are two that made similar comments.

      • I’m conflicted on this. These guys may just be virtue signaling, or something. Why can’t these children be brought up successfully with a goodly amount of money and be raised to be responsible with it and make something of themselves and raise good grand children? I just don’t get it. Are these kids supposed to be punished? Are they all going to turn into Doris Dukes? They don’t have to. They could start with a lot of dough and do really worthwhile things with their money and their lives. This is just weird.

  3. 4. I thought the same thing. How many of those girls are now in their twenties and been through how much? Just keep pouting, Michelle. In your twelve million dollar robber baron mansion on Martha’s Vineyard.

  4. Non-Sequitur, but I couldn’t wait until Friday, because I’m petty like this:

    “Person Hospitalized After Taking Livestock Ivermectin From Feed Store To Treat COVID-19”

    “You know, please work with your doctor. This is medical treatment. You wouldn’t get your chemotherapy at a feed store,” the state health officer said. “I mean, you wouldn’t want to treat your pneumonia with your animal’s medication. It can be dangerous to get the wrong doses of medication, especially for something that’s meant for a horse or a cow. So we understand the environment we live in. But it’s really important if people have medical needs to go through your physician or provider.”

    Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin to treat people with conditions caused by parasitic worms and external parasites like head lice, the FDA warns that the forms of ivermectin used to treat animals are not the same product.

    “For one thing, animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more,” the FDA wrote in a March 2021 notice. “Such high doses can be toxic in humans.”

    “There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s OK to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong,” the FDA said. “Even the levels of ivermectin for approved uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.”

    Antivaxxers are not sending their best.

  5. On topics….

    1 hit me as kind of an interesting situation. Osaka really does seem to have some kind of issue in talking to the press, and I don’t know how to square the circle. She’s a brilliant tennis player, but she can’t handle press interactions…. What do you do with that? The question was probably the most gentle way to deal with the elephant in the room, and I’m having a hard time processing that she wasn’t prepared for it, but she obviously wasn’t, and she broke. Is the inability, for whatever reason, to interact with the media disqualifying, and if it is, what does that say about the meritocracy of sport? Because while it’s cravenly self dealing and asking for special treatment, Osaka did have a point: Pre-Game interviews certainly throw some athletes off their game, and I can’t think of a non-financial reason to have them. So if having those interviews isn’t necessary, and they reduce the efficiency of some athletes, what’s the justification for having them? Is social toughness part of the sport of tennis? And if it is… When did that happen?

    2 Hope Solo would know, I mean… she’s got all that domestic violence experience.

    4. I hadn’t seen this when I made this, But I made this:

    • I like your thing.

      On Osaka: dealing with the news media is part of the job of being a sports celebrity. What if an elected official said, “I get anxious and nervous answering questions from the news media, so I won’t do it”?

      • I mean, when was the last time Biden held a press conference?

        Seriously though, it’s an awful comparison. Politicians have responsibility and accountability to the public. They’re elected to make decisions that have direct and material impacts on our lives. Professional tennis players hit balls with rackets in ways that some people find entertaining.

        • What they do to require media coverage isn’t the issue. In both cases, allowing the public to know as much as possible is part of their duty if they are going to reap the financial and other benefits of celebrity.

          • I disagree, obviously. I don’t understand where a “duty” to “allow the public to know as much as possible” about tennis came from, but I find the implications fascinating.

            I even disagree with the characterization of these people as celebrities outside of the most tenuously connected of strained inferences. Sports aren’t the WWE. It isn’t acting. A person’s value to the sport is not as subjective as whether a cadre of fans fund them entertaining, it is objective and measurable in things like their win/loss ratio. The entertainment is a byproduct that various organizations have been able to market. Unless it isn’t. And what does that say?

            Even if we want to make the argument that the players have that duty because they’ve agreed to it by entering into the events. I’m not sure the event planners should require it. It’s not just a matter of maximizing profits… I’m not sure what profits could be gleaned from pre-game interviews. But even if there *were* profits to be gained, there are all kinds of things that businesses could do that might maximize profits that would also run counter to their mandates, it doesn’t take much imagination to think of situations they shouldn’t participate in.

            • Not tennis…them. The celebrities. They are rich because people care about them.And they are rich because many, many businesses and products profit off of their fame because people care. They are public personalities, whether their business is sports, politics or performing. They have waived much of their privacy, and to a great extent, it’s a good deal for them. People like Osaka want all the benefits—get paid for what they love to do, get fame, influence, power and wealth, but balk at the minor requirements of celebrity like being available to members of the press, who have to make their living too.

  6. Back off topic (Sorry, but I won’t be here tomorrow):

    Click to access gov.uscourts.cand.372231.69.0.pdf

    Page 47: “In sum, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have stated a claim for civil liability under the TVPRA on the basis of beneficiary liability and that the claim falls within the exemption to Section 230 immunity created by FOSTA”

    I’ve been waiting for a case like this for a while.

    Two 13 year old kids were sexually abused and videotaped. A few years later, that video surfaced and started to be circulated on Twitter. The kid’s parents requested that Twitter remove child pornography and Twitter declined to do so until the kid’s parents contacted The Department of Homeland Security who in turn requested the child pornography be taken down, which they did, nine days later after having been viewed 167,000 times.

    Twitter is arguing that they are exempt from civil liability because they are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and the court has held that the trial can continue because of an exemption to Section 230 created by the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA).

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