Shame doesn’t seem to exist in the sports world anymore

Does shame no longer exist? Does anyone in positions of power or prestige who exhibit behavior—questionable, nefarious, or anything in between—feel sincere remorse for the wrong they have done?

This is the question that came to me on Tuesday after reading yet another misdeed story by Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, this time by ESPN investigative journalist Don Van Natta. This is the case where we discovered that Snyder may have committed bank fraud by taking out a $55 million loan without the necessary documentation approved by his team’s board of directors and misleading his three now former owner partners.

The story comes a day after The Washington Post ran an article saying that if Snyder sold the Commanders, he would demand that other members of the league’s owners club protect him from all future legal liability and costs, angering their fellow billionaires and rekindling talk that they might at least give a little thought to kicking the irritable Snyder out of their ranks.

And the story comes on the heels of The Athletic’s Saturday report that Snyder won’t sell to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos because Bezos also owns the Washington Post, the source of almost all of the high-profile stories that have led to Snyder’s current public troubles. , beginning with the exposure of a highly toxic work environment for female employees, leading to a mild NFL sanction and congressional investigation.

One of those stories would have made a person capable of shame take the money (Commanders would be sold for $6 billion or more) and run away, but Snyder has demonstrated over and over again over the decades that he is clearly incapable of feeling shame.

(We present as evidence this feature from the Washington City Paper, published in 2010 and documenting all of Snyder’s illegal activities to that point. Since then, the situation has not improved in more than 12 years.)

Anyone accused of some of the crimes Dan Snyder has faced may have been persuaded to sell the football franchise he owns.  But apparently we live in a post-infamous sports world.  (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Anyone accused of some of the crimes Dan Snyder has faced may have been persuaded to sell the football franchise he owns. But apparently we live in a post-infamous sports world. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

But Snyder is far from the only one. If we delved into the political realm, we would be here all day (anyone, George Santos?), although, disgustingly, sports have provided plenty of examples over the past few weeks.

The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell – in addition to reporting a desire to continue covering for Snyder despite him ruining a franchise that was supposed to be a money-making machine – have clearly lost the ability to feel shame.

A league that has long been said to be obsessed with optics and whose figurehead started out in public relations is now shamelessly shoving Jim Brown down our throats as a good guy. Only this year The NFL introduced the “Jim Brown Award” will be awarded annually to the player with the most rushing yards in each season, and then later that month tweeted a five-minute video of Brown via his Inspire Change Twitter handle.

Brown was a terrific running back for the Cleveland Browns and he was a strong voice during the Civil Rights Movement. But he also has a long track record of being a violent, unrepentant domestic aggressor accused of throwing one girl off a balcony and raping another among several alleged incidents.

Instead, the NFL couldn’t glorify Barry Sanders? All the talent and mind blowing moments and, as far as we know, zero rape charges.

Last month, the NBA held its annual All-Star Celebration in Salt Lake City and decided to include Karl Malone in it. Yes, Malone as a basketball player is a jazz icon. Malone also impregnated a 13-year-old when he was a 20-year-old college student, never publicly acknowledged that the resulting child was his, and when the media came across this during an All-Star weekend, he gave this answer: “I don’t discuss this backlash. I don’t care. This is my life, this is my personal life, and I will deal with it like I should have dealt with everything… anything. I am human “.

Yes, Karl Malone is a jazz icon from Utah.  He's also not exactly the kind of person you think the NBA would want to showcase on one of its biggest weekends.  (Photo by PATRIK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
Yes, Karl Malone is a jazz icon from Utah. He’s also not exactly the kind of person you think the NBA would want to showcase on one of its biggest weekends yet. (Photo by PATRIK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Not to be outdone, Alabama men’s basketball plays through it even though one of its star players, Brandon Miller, allegedly handed a gun to Darius Miles, which Miles then handed to a third man, Michael Davis, who is accused of shooting and murder. Jamie Harris, 23, minutes after Miller’s arrival. Miller was not charged by the police, but what we know so far suggests he was involved and, at the very least, should not have played.

Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oates’ initial reaction to the media about Miller’s involvement was to say the player “didn’t do anything wrong” and was just “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Opponent fans shouted, “Lock him up!” and the young woman is dead, her 5-year-old son is motherless, but you need to win the tournament, am I right?

There was a time when public backlash or fear of public outrage meant these things never happened. The new NFL award would be named after someone else, the NBA would thank Malone but not thank you, and The Bama would admit that one of its players, even indirectly involved in the murder charge, looks terrible, regardless how high they rank in polls.

Those days seem long gone.

Beyond that, however, do you see a pattern here? In addition to Snyder’s financial crimes, they all involve violence and abuse against women. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, because my whole life, and my mother’s life, and the life of my grandmothers, and all my offspring before them, have shown that women are still too often treated as second-class citizens.

Leagues, teams and organizations will regularly claim that they care so much about women – until they are allegedly bullied by a man who is part of the club owner of the team, or once played football very well, or brought some money to the basketball team. . a measure of glory (but never a championship), or may lead his school to the top of the college hoops.

Then it’s basically, “I don’t care… whatever.”

Happy Women’s History Month.


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