Daunte Wright Dining Car Specials On The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck…

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Naturally, the New York Times has a ticket…The Timed headline in its print edition: “Minnesota Police Kill Another Man As Tensions Build.” Oh, did the jury rule that the Minnesota police officers killed George Floyd already? They didn’t? Then what the hell is the New York Times saying “Another” for?

The news media decided that Derek Chauvin is a murderer and has been repeating that assertion as fact for almost a year now.

2. Wait, the Chaivin jury hasn’t been sequestered? Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had argued yesterday that the jurors should be ordered to avoid all media and spend the rest of the trial sequestered, because he feared that rioting in the nearby community where the Wright shooting took place might limit their ability to be fair jurors. The unrest will be at “forefront of the jury’s mind-set,” Nelson argued. He also asked for new interviews with the jurors to determine whether this recent event had already biased them. The judge, Peter Cahill, denied both requests. “This is a totally different case,” the judge held, since the current riots aren’t about a jury verdict but a shooting.

Wow This pretty much convinces me that this is a kangaroo court, and that the judge is trying to do his best to see Chauvin convicted.

Continue reading

Are Gentlemen Sexist?

"Oh, Tommy---you're such a pig!"

“Oh, Tommy—you’re such a pig!”

On the flip side of the hit post about Emily Heist Moss’s open letter to her harassers, we have the B-side (I know this metaphor marks me as a fogy ): my objections to a New York Times essay by Lynn Messna, who declares that she doesn’t want her son to be gentleman, because gentlemen are sexist.

She writes:

“Start to complain about your preschooler adopting gentlemanly behavior and you quickly discover how out of step you are with the rest of the world. Almost everyone I mention it to thinks it’s lovely and sweet. What’s the harm in teaching little boys to respect little girls?..But I don’t think it’s an overreaction to resent the fact that your son is being given an extra set of rules to follow simply because he’s a boy. His behavior, already constrained by a series of societal norms, now has additional restrictions. Worse than that, he’s actively being taught to treat girls differently,  something I thought we all agreed to stop doing, like, three decades ago. Continue reading

Integrity, Soccer, and Ties

Kissing your sister is better than this.

Honest, this has nothing to do with disappointment over the U.S. women’s soccer team’s loss in the World Cup Finals: I couldn’t care less about soccer of any kind, at any level. But a lot of people do care (my sister and niece are probably under a suicide watch as I write this, so I think that the sport needs to address its integrity deficit.

To be specific: having a major title or tournament in any team sport decided by something as artificial and unteamlike as soccer’s shoot-out tie-breaker is a breach of that sport’s duty to its tradition and its fans. It is solution for solution’s sake, abandoning the purpose of the contest so as to have a resolution, no matter how unfair, cynical, or unrelated to what has gone before. Continue reading

Thanking Dick Williams…Finally

The late Dick Williams, doing what great leaders do

If you are not a baseball fan, or under the age of thirty, you probably never heard of Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who died yesterday at the age of 84. I never met Williams myself, but I have been indebted to him for four decades. I never told him the immense difference he made in my life, just by doing his job.

In the winter of 1967, I was a devoted fan of my home town team, the Boston Red Sox, and had been since 1962.  Over that period I had listened to every single baseball game on my transistor radio when a game wasn’t on TV, which was most of the time, or when I wasn’t at the game, which was almost always the case. I was the only person I knew who followed the team, and for good reason: it was torture. The Red Sox were hopelessly mediocre on the way to awful, and hadn’t had a winning season in more than ten years.

It is a great character builder to follow the fortunes of a terrible baseball team. Almost every day, for six months, you are let down, and yet return to the scene of your despair the next, attempting to muster hope while steeling yourself against likely disappointment. You find yourself finding things to appreciate other than winning: the gallant veteran player who “plays the right way” (Eddie Bressoud, shortstop, 1962-1965); the exciting rookie who gives promise of a better future (Tony Conigliaro, right fielder—rest in peace, Tony); the unique talent who is worth watching for his own sake (Dick Radatz, relief pitcher, 1962-1966). These things help, but following a perennial losing team and caring about them is like being punched in the gut four or five days a week without knowing which day you’re getting it.

Since 1965, I had always reserved seats for the first day of the season and one of the last two home games, just in case those last games would be crucial to a (hahahaha!) Red Sox pennant drive. This was especially pathetic, since the team was getting worse. They had finished in a tie for 9th place in 1966, and as the 1967 season loomed, Vegas had them installed as 100-1 underdogs to win the American League pennant. In truth, the odds should have been longer. Nonetheless, I wrote the Red Sox and got my tickets, this time for the next to last day of the season.

The team was full of rookies and near rookies, and appropriately had hired a minor league manager, Dick Williams, to be the new skipper. Williams was something else, however: he was a gifted leader. One day, in the middle of Spring Training, a Boston scribe asked the new manager what the prospects were for the upcoming season. Would the team escape the cellar? Would there be forward progress? Williams’ answer was instant front page news:

“We’ll win more than we lose.” Continue reading

Dear ESPN: I Know She’s Hot, But Fire Erin Andrews

…or at least suspend her. Show us that a male-dominated sports network can have a modicum of journalistic ethics, and won’t behave like a drooling traffic cop giving a buxom babe a pass for running a red light because she bats her eyes and flashes some cleavage.

You did the right thing in early January, when one of your broadcasters abused a female colleague in a sexist manner; some would say—certainly the fired Ron Franklin—that you reacted a little precipitously, but you are clearly taking a strong stand against gender bias in the workplace, and that’s commendable. Still, don’t you know that what your pin-up, “Dancing With the Stars” reporter Andrews did was far worse? Continue reading

Well, If The Washington Post Won’t Fire A Reporter For Intentionally Publishing Lies, At Least It Gets Angry At Him

Mike Wise, a Washington Post sportswriter and columnist deliberately posted a phony scoop (about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) on Twitter, as an experiment to see how widely it would be picked up. His plan, he now says, was to correct the lie with a follow-up tweet.  Due to bad luck or the intervention of the God of Journalism, however, his Twitter account froze, and what was supposed to be a near immediate correction took almost forty minutes. Several internet sites, from the Miami Herald to NBC’s ProFootballTalk, passed on the original tweet, attributing it to Wise.

Faced with a staff reporter who intentionally published a lie for no other reason than to see what would happen, the Post reacted according to its concern regarding the seriousness of his conduct—that is, deceiving those who trust him, as a member of a legitimate media organization, to report only the truth and to respect the trust of his and his paper’s readers—and suspended him for one month. Continue reading

The Ethics of Booing Manny Ramirez

As it so often does, the world of sport is presenting us with a clear ethical conflict tomorrow night—one of those times when we have to prioritize ethical values, and decide which is more important in our culture, because if we meet one, we violate another.

Manny Ramirez will be returning to Boston’s Fenway Park in a Dodger uniform, as Boston hosts Los Angeles in an inter-league contest. Continue reading

Lindsay Vonn and the Fairness Obsession

Ethicist Rushworth Kidder has challenged the fairness of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, specifically the Ladies’ Super-G skiing event. U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn, the gold medal winner in the Ladies’ Downhill Alpine Skiing event, only won the bronze despite finishing the course in one minute and 20.88 seconds, because Austria’s Andrea Fischbacher at 1:20.14,  and  Slovenia’s Tina Maze at 1:20.63 were less than a second faster. Italy’s Johanna Schnarf, the fourth place finisher, got no prize at all, because she was a miniscule  11 hundredths of a second behind Vonn.

Dr. Kidder is crying foul. Continue reading

Unethical Blog Post of the Day

Darren Rovell writes a sports business blog for CNBC, and maybe he was under a deadline, but it’s no excuse. In his blog today, Rovell writes an essay entitled, “Marathon’s Headline Win Is Empty.” His theme: everyone was excited that, for once, an American runner won the New York Marathon. But Rovell throws cold water on that bit of misguided national pride…

“Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it sounds. Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he’s not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.”

It constantly amazes me that after over 200 years proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that an American whose parents came over on the Mayflower is no more American than one who became a citizen yesterday, some people still fail to respect the wonder of this nation, a community of immigrants and the  descendants of immigrants, bound together by ideals and aspirations, not national origin.  Keflezighi has been a U.S. for eleven years, but he’s still not American enough for Rovell.

If anything, the fact that Keflezighi is a naturalized citizen—like Einstein, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Charles Steinmetz and Cary Grant, like Samuel Gompers and Madeleine Albright, like Bob Hope and Ayn Rand—gives us more reason to be proud of America, and that our system works, making us stronger, smarter, and faster because we can attract the best and boldest from around the globe.

It’s just a business sports blog,  and I suspect Rovell will soon be getting beaten up in media venues with a lot more visibility than this one. And I suspect, or hope,  that he didn’t think through what he wrote very carefully, and will soon be issuing a “I didn’t mean to offend anyone” apology. Still,  the attitude that his words convey, even if he didn’t intend it, is at the heart of the racism, bigotry, and xenophobia that still warps our political discourse and divides our communities.  The core ethical value being neglected here is respect: respect for fellow citizens, respect for the immigrants who have the determination to become Americans, and respect for what being an American means.

Meb Keflezighi is as American as I am, or Darren Rovell. It was sure great to have an American finally win the New York Marathon.

[Hat tip to James Taranto]

Ethics Dunce: Tony Kornheiser

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad “Ochocinco” is a talented professional football player whose specialty is self-promotion and media buzz. (His silly name change to reflect his uniform number is an example: his real name is the unspectacular “Chad Johnson.”) Several of his stunts have gotten him fined by the NFL, but he has received generally good reviews for his latest: a “Lambeau Leap” into the hometown Green Bay Packers crowd following a touchdown.

Ochocinco vowed to score a TD and then make a “Lambeau Leap” into the Green Bay crowd when the Bengals played the Packers. (The “Lambeau Leap” is a traditional celebratory maneuver reserved to Packer players, as Green Bay fans are not inclined to be hospitable to opposing team players invading their domain.) Johnson did make a touchdown, and did leap into the arms of fans in the end zone, some of whom appeared to be Bengal fans. It was an immediate sports show highlight. A few days later, the truth came out: Ochocinco had planted four fans for the purpose, buying them tickets and having them ready to catch him. The whole thing was a set up.

But Tony Kornheiser, the former Washington Post humor writer turned cuddly sports commentator on ESPN’s breezy show,“Pardon the Interruption,” pronounced the stunt “cool.”

No, it’s not cool. Athletes staging “moments” in games using paid confederates undermine the integrity of sports. There are people—my own father is one of them—who have reached the point of cynicism where he believes most, and maybe all, sports are like professional wrestling, staged for television and gullible fans. The fake “Lambeau Leap” reinforces his conviction, and makes even more trusting fans wonder, “What else is staged?” For his own publicity and fame (and the resulting increase in his value for endorsements), Chad Ochocinco took all of professional sports a little further down the road away from athletic integrity toward ersatz drama. And the reaction of Tony Kornheiser (not just Tony, to be fair; call this “selective ethics prosecution”) was that it was “cool.”

Fake masquerading as genuine and spontaneous is never “cool.” It is always unethical. In sports, fake threatens to permanently reduce the thrill and enjoyment of sports for everybody, by making fans wonder whether the amazing moment they saw was real.

People like Tony Kornheiser, who are paid to help us enjoy sports, should at least understand that.